You know the college football season is quickly approaching when preseason polls start rolling out, and the Division I Football Championship Subdivision is no different. With kickoff less than a month away, it's time to turn our attention to the teams that project to make the biggest impact on the field.
Those who followed the FCS last year were treated to a fantastic season that saw -- stop me if you've heard this before -- the North Dakota State Bison take home the national championship. While the Bison seem to be the favorites to take home a national title once again, it doesn't mean this season is short of intriguing storylines.
Here are a few examples:
- Jackson State made history when five-star ATH Travis Hunter became the first No. 1 overall recruit to sign with an FCS program out of high school.
- The Colonial Athletic Association transformed into a power conference during realignment by adding Hampton and Monmouth this season, as well as Campbell and North Carolina A&T next year.
- DII power Texas A&M-Commerce, along with Lindenwood and Stonehill, will make the jump to the FCS this season.
- Longtime powers Sam Houston and Jacksonville State have their FCS farewell tour this season, as both are bolting for Conference USA next year.
There are more than enough reasons to be excited about the 2022 FCS season, and we'll do our part weekly here at CBS Sports with our FCS Power Rankings. Our preseason edition of those rankings can be found below:
|1. North Dakota State||0-0||The reigning national champions boast the best fullback in football with Hunter Luepke and enter the season with more confidence at QB with Cam Miller. The Bison finally get another FBS opponent on the schedule (at Arizona) and are unbeaten in their last four FBS matchups.|
|2. South Dakota State||0-0||The Jackrabbits still have one of the FCS' best backfields, led by RB Isaiah Davis, and two tremendous wideouts in the Janke twins. Now, they're healthier at QB. This team has a great chance to get back to the FCS championship game.|
|3. Montana State||0-0||I still believe that if QB Tommy Mellott was healthy for the full FCS championship game vs North Dakota State, the outcome would've been different. A healthy Mellott gives the Bobcats a shot, but they will have to replace some studs on defense.|
|4. Missouri State||0-0||What a remarkable job coach Bobby Petrino has done with this Bears program. Look for QB Jason Shelley to be a Walter Payton Award finalist this year.|
|5. Montana||0-0||The Grizzlies will hang their hats on defense. What that group did last season to Washington was flat-out disrespectful. Look for more "disrespectful" performances this season.|
|6. Southern Illinois||0-0||The Salukis are the latest Missouri Valley team to grace my top 10 and justifiably so. I called them the "Cardiac Salukis" over the last couple of seasons because they are never out of a game thanks to their dynamic offense.|
|7. Jackson State||0-0||Regarding his team last season, coach Deion Sanders said "What you saw in the spring [of 2021], you won't see in the fall." Boy, was he right. This year he's saying last year's offensive line isn't this year's offensive line. I have no choice but to believe in #TheeILove.|
|8. Villanova||0-0||Replacing QB Daniel Smith will be challenging, but whoever steps in will be well-protected up front thanks to a strong offensive line unit led by preseason FCS All-American OL Michael Corbi.|
|9. Stephen F. Austin||0-0||I like the job that coach Colby Carthel is doing with the Lumberjacks. SFA has a challenging schedule but still should be viewed as one of the favorites in the WAC. I'm a big fan of QB Trae Self.|
|10. Kennesaw State||0-0||Owls signal-caller Xavier Shepherd spearheads one of the best rushing offenses in the FCS. Between a ball-control option game and an aggressive defense, playoff appearances have become an annual thing for Brian Bohannon's squad.|
|11. Incarnate Word||0-0||The Cardinals lose former Jerry Rice Award winner Cameron Ward, who transferred to Washington State, but they replace him with an equally exciting and dynamic QB in Lindsey Scott Jr. Defensively, they should be solid once again. UIW opens up with back-to-back challenging and exciting matchups at SIU and Nevada.|
|12. Chattanooga||0-0||Defensive lineman Devonnsha Maxwell, a two-time FCS All-American and All-Southern Conference performer, leads a strong defensive unit for the Mocs. If the passing game improves, they could be a darkhorse for the FCS playoffs.|
|13. Holy Cross||0-0||Coach Bob Chesney has done a phenomenal job with the Crusaders. Can they replicate last year's successful 10-3 record? We'll learn a lot about this year's team within their first three games (at Merrimack, at Buffalo, vs. Yale).|
|14. Sacramento State||0-0||The Hornets have been good under coach Troy Taylor, and they're arguably one of the more consistent squads in the Big Sky. That won't change as they head into the 2022 season.|
|15. Rhode Island||0-0||I love the resurgence in recents seasons from the Rams. They are consistently a tough out for opponents. QB Kasim Hill brings both talent and veteran leadership to the table. The Rams could make a big statement in their opener vs. conference foe Stony Brook.|
|16. Weber State||0-0||The Wildcats are usually strong on both sides of the line of scrimmage. I expect that to be the case this year – just as I expect RB Josh Davis to return to health and ball out in the process.|
|17. Florida A&M||0-0||Coach Willie Simmons has done an excellent job building up this program. A one-point loss last year in the Orange Blossom Classic was the only thing that kept the Rattlers from the Celebration Bowl. FAMU is set up to play postseason ball again this year, whether that's in the Celebration Bowl or, like last season, the FCS playoffs.|
|18. Richmond||0-0||Adding WR Jakob Herres this offseason was a huge get for the Spiders. Unfortunately, they lost their best DL in Kobie Turner to Wake Forest. The transfer portal giveth and taketh away. It doesn't matter, the Spiders will still find a way to stay stout on that side of the ball.|
|19. William & Mary||0-0||I'm a Mike London guy. He's a championship-winning coach that has quietly built up a strong program. The Tribe are ready to take a major step forward this season.|
|20. Mercer||0-0||The Bears were on the cusp of an FCS playoff berth last season, and they fully expect to get there this year. Keep an eye on WR Devron Harper, who dazzled in his debut season after coming over from Gardner-Webb. He'll push for All-America honors when it's all said and done.|
|21. East Tennessee State||0-0||Jacob Saylors gives the Bucs a foundational running back to build around while also softening the blow of losing star tailback Quay Holmes to graduation. Saylors and the Bucs made the FCS playoffs last year and new coach George Quarles hopes to do the same.|
|22. Delaware||0-0||If Nolan Henderson can stay healthy for a full season, the Blue Hens will definitely fly up this list. He's one of the more exciting QBs in the FCS.|
|23. Southeastern Louisiana||0-0||Replacing former Walter Payton Award QB Cole Kelley will be a challenge, but the Lions always do a great job in reloading in a talent-rich state like Louisiana.|
|24. Eastern Kentucky||0-0||Defense should once again be the calling card for the Colonels entering 2022. They'll need a little bit more consistency from the offense if they want to reach their full potential.|
|25. Eastern Washington||0-0||Who steps in at QB for the 2021 Walter Payton Award winner and record-setting QB Eric Barriere will be the storyline to watch. The Eagles have to catch fire after a tough early part of the schedule.|