How Many FCS Teams Will Beat FBS Teams in 2022?
Although the gap is widening between the truly elite college football teams and everyone else, the gap is narrowing between the worst teams in the FCS and the best teams in the FBS. We saw a record 12 FCS teams defeat FBS teams in 2021, and FCS juggernaut North Dakota State didn’t even play an FBS team. There are sure to be some FCS wins over FBS teams in Week 1, so let’s take a look at some of the possible victims.
Florida International (vs. Bryant)
The Panthers are only single-digit favorites against the Bryant Bulldogs on Thursday night in south Florida, and a lot of action has come in on the visitors since this line opened on Wednesday morning. Bill Connelly’s SP+ rates Florida International as the third-worst team in the FBS coming into the season, as the Panthers lost a ton of players in the transfer portal this offseason. Bryant went 7-4 last year in the NEC, so the Bulldogs could score the first FCS over FBS win in 2022.
Arizona State (vs. Northern Arizona)
The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks have three wins over FBS opponents in the last decade. Northern Arizona knocked off UNLV in 2012, hammered UTEP in 2018, and edged Arizona by two points last season. The Lumberjacks have struggled somewhat since Case Cookus graduated in 2019, but the Arizona State Sun Devils have been in turmoil this offseason. There has been a ton of turnover in Arizona State’s staff due to NCAA violations, and that has led to a shakeup on the roster too. The Sun Devils should not be 25-point favorites on Thursday night given everything going on around this program.
Eastern Michigan (vs. Eastern Kentucky)
Chris Creighton has had more success at Eastern Michigan than any other coach in the modern era. Creighton has led the Eagles to four of their five bowl game appearances, and he needs five more wins to become the most successful coach in program history. He has yet to lose to an FCS team, but Eastern Kentucky is less than a two-touchdown underdog for a reason. The Colonels defeated some solid teams like Jacksonville State, Central Arkansas, and Austin Peay last season.
Iowa (vs. South Dakota State)
The Hawkeyes opened their season with North Dakota State in 2016 and fell to the Bison despite being the No. 13 ranked team in the country at the start of the year. Now, Iowa kicks off this year’s campaign against the second-best team in the FCS in South Dakota State, and the Jackrabbits have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, it’s clear that Iowa’s offense has completely stalled as Kirk Ferentz is following in the footsteps of Bobby Bowden by continuing to promote his son despite growing evidence that the younger Ferentz is not a chip off the old block.
Navy (vs. Delaware)
The easiest time to face Navy is early in the season when you have plenty of time to prepare for the option. That bodes well for a Delaware team that made it to the FCS Semifinals just two years ago. Additionally, the Midshipmen are just 7-15 over the last two seasons, as this program struggles when it doesn’t have the right player to run the triple option.
Southeast Louisiana (vs. Louisiana-Lafayette)
Billy Napier turned Louisiana-Lafayette into a strong program in the Sun Belt, but he took a good amount of his coaching staff and talent with him to Florida. That hasn’t made things easy for new head coach Michael Desormeaux as he looks to continue what Napier built in Lafayette with the Ragin’ Cajuns. Southeast Louisiana enters the year ranked in the FCS Top 25, and this fast-paced offense can be tough to deal with for opponents.