(Stats Perform) – The 2022 FCS playoffs will kick off with eight first-round games on Saturday.

The 24-team field will play at school host sites until the championship game on Jan. 8 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

Following are capsule previews of the first-round games (all times ET):

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Elon (8-3, 6-2 CAA) at Furman (9-2, 7-1 SoCon)

Kickoff – Noon at Paladin Stadium in Greenville, South Carolina (ESPN+)

Series – Furman leads 12-8 (last meeting: Elon won 45-7 at home on Sept. 8, 2018)

Coaches – Elon: Tony Trisciani (20-19, fourth season); Furman: Clay Hendrix (40-25, sixth season)

3 Players to Watch – Elon: QB Matthew McKay (177 of 283, 2,471 yards, 21 TDs, 4 INTs; 405 rushing yards, 3 TDs), RB Jalen Hampton (1,023 rushing yards, 10 TDs), Spur Marcus Hillman (73 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 4 FF); Furman: QB Tyler Huff (70.1 completion percentage, 13 TDs; 537 rushing yards, 5 TDs), TE Ryan Miller (61 receptions, 652 yards, 11 TDs), ILB Braden Gilby (76 tackles, 14 TFL)

Notable – Furman won 28-27 at Elon in a 2017 first-round matchup. This season, both teams posted three regular-season wins over ranked opponents, just one shy of the national high. Hampton is an Elon workhorse with over 22 carries per game, but Furman has been solid in a run-oriented SoCon, allowing only 110.5 rushing yards per game. The host Paladins’ 16 interceptions, led by FS Hugh Ryan’s four, are tied for the third-most in the FCS, but Elon has the better turnover margin, plus-9 to plus-6. Elon’s Skyler Davis is 16 of 20 on field goal attempts this season and 67 of 88 (76.1 percent) in his career.

Up Next – The winner will advance to play at No. 7 seed UIW (10-1) in the second round (2 p.m. ET on Dec. 3).

Prediction – Elon 24, Furman 23

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Saint Francis (9-2, 7-0 Northeast) at Delaware (7-4, 4-4 CAA)

Kickoff – 2 p.m. at Delaware Stadium in Newark, Delaware (ESPN+)

Series – Delaware leads 1-0 (Delaware won 27-10 at home on Sept. 11, 2021)

Coaches – Saint Francis: Chris Villarrial (60-73, 12th season); Delaware: Ryan Carty (7-4, first season)

3 Players to Watch – Saint Francis: QB Cole Doyle (134 of 196, 1,849 yards, 21 TDs, 3 INTs; 310 rushing yards), WR Makai Jackson (80 receptions, 920 yards, 8 TDs; KOR TD), DE Donnell Brown (46 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks); Delaware: QB Nolan Henderson 266 of 418, 2,934 yards, 28 TDs, 8 INTs), LB Johnny Buchanan (120 tackles, 5.5 TFL), S Kedrick Whitehead (61 tackles, 3.5 TFL, INT, FF)

Notable – Saint Francis has a nine-game winning streak entering its second all-time playoff appearance, while UD begins its 18th appearance (tying for seventh place in FCS history) off back-to-back losses. While guiding the most-potent offense in SFU’s FCS history, Doyle has 14 TD passes against zero interceptions in his last three games. However, UD’s stout passing defense ranks second among 130 FCS teams in passing yards allowed per game (134.1) and third in pass efficiency rating (100.8). Twelve of the Blue Hens’ 20 turnovers have occurred in their four losses (eight in seven wins).

Up Next – The winner will advance to play at No. 1 seed South Dakota State (10-1) in the second round (3 p.m. ET on Dec. 3)

Prediction – Delaware 28, Saint Francis 17

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Fordham (9-2, 5-1 Patriot) at New Hampshire (8-3, 7-1 CAA)

Kickoff – 2 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium in Durham, New Hampshire (ESPN+)

Series – New Hampshire leads 1-0 (UNH won 44-19 at home in second round on Dec. 6, 2014)

Coaches – Fordham: Joe Conlin (23-25, fifth season); New Hampshire: Rick Santos (14-8, second season)

3 Players to Watch – Fordham: QB Tim DeMorat (301 of 458, 4,561 yards, 53 TDs), WR Fotis Kokosiouslis (89 receptions, 1,180 yards, 14 TDs), LB Ryan Greenhagen (103 tackles, 4.5 sacks); New Hampshire: QB Max Brosmer (2,564 passing yards, 22 TDs, 5 INTs), RB Dylan Laube (162.5 all-purpose yards per game, 15 TDs), DE Josiah Silver (42 tackles, 14 TFL, 8.5 sacks)

Notable – Conlin spent the 2004-10 seasons on the UNH coaching staff. UNH returns to the playoffs for the first time since a 14-year run ended in 2017 (it started with Santos quarterbacking the 2004 team). In addition to the offensive exploits of DeMorat and Kokosiouslis, Fordham’s FCS-leading offense (611.5 yards per game) boasts a second 1,000-yard receiver (Dequece Carter, 1,194) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Trey Sneed, 1,002). UNH ranks second in the CAA with 31 sacks, but it surrendered a season-high 538 yards to Maine in a 42-41 overtime win last Saturday.

Up Next – The winner will advance to play at No. 8 seed Holy Cross (11-0) in the second round (noon ET on Dec. 3)

Prediction – Fordham 38, New Hampshire 35

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Davidson (8-3, 6-2 Pioneer) at Richmond (8-3, 6-2 CAA)

Kickoff – 2 p.m. at E. Claiborne Robins Stadium in Richmond, Virginia (ESPN+)

Series – Richmond leads 19-9-1 (last meeting: Richmond won 42-0 at Davidson on Sept. 15, 1973)

Coaches – Davidson: Scott Abell (34-18, fifth season; 73-42 overall); Richmond: Russ Huesman (32-28, sixth season; 91-65 overall)

3 Players to Watch – Davidson: RB Dylan Sparks (792 rushing yards, 5 TDs), FB Coy Williams (779 rushing yards, 11 TDs), DE Jonathan Hammond (36 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks); Richmond: QB Reece Udinski (329 of 445, 3,152 yards, 24 TDs, 4 INTs), WR Jakob Herres (65 receptions, 850 yards, 5 TDs), LB Tristan Wheeler (97 tackles, 9 TFL, 2 INTs)

Notable – Davidson, from the non-scholarship PFL, has lost in each of the past two playoffs – their first appearances – by a combined 97-35. The Wildcats, facing Richmond for the first time in 49 years, leads the FCS in rushing yards per game (350.5), with QB Jayden Waddell at the controls. They seek to contain a Udinski-led passing attack that boasts the only FCS trio to have 60 or more receptions each (Jasiah Williams, 75; Herres, 65; and Leroy Henley, 61). The Spiders have allowed only 277.4 yards and 15.3 points per game in wins, but it’s 472.7 and 33.7, respectively, in losses.

Up Next – The winner will advance to play at No. 2 seed Sacramento State (11-0) in the second round (5 p.m. ET on Dec. 3)

Prediction – Richmond 42, Davidson 21

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North Dakota (7-4, 5-3) at Weber State (9-2, 6-2 Big Sky)

Kickoff – 4 p.m. at Stewart Stadium in Ogden, Utah (ESPN+)

Series – Weber State leads 4-1 (last meeting: Weber State won 30-27 at home on Nov. 9, 2019)

Coaches – North Dakota: Bubba Schweigert (54-44, ninth season; 76-66 overall); Weber State: Jay Hill (67-38, ninth season)

3 Players to Watch – North Dakota: QB Tommy Schuster (228 of 322, 2,546 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs), RB Tyler Hoosman (885 rushing yards, 12 TDs), LB Devon Krzanowski (54 tackles, 3 sacks); Weber State: QB Bronson Barron (190 of 320, 2,337 yards, 19 TDs, 7 INTs), LB Winston Reid (94 tackles, 10 TFL, 4 FF), CB Maxwell Anderson (38 tackles, 5 INTs, 9 PBU)

Notable – Weber State is the highest-ranked team (No. 9, behind the eight seeds) to be playing in the first round. The Wildcats’ rushing attack (Dontae McMillan leads with 681 yards) usually goes with the hot hand, and UND has allowed 5.1 yards per carry to the opposition. Abraham Williams has a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in four of the last seven games. The Fighting Hawks, behind the efficient Schuster (70.8 completion% – fourth-best in the FCS), ranks fifth nationally in average time of possession (33 minutes, 47 seconds), but while they’ve done well to convert third downs (45.9 percent), the defense has struggled to get off the field in allowing a 50.4 conversion percentage to opponent.

Up Next – The winner will advance to play at No. 4 seed Montana State (10-1) in the second round (3 p.m. ET on Dec. 3)

Prediction – Weber State 29, North Dakota 21

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Gardner-Webb (6-5, 5-0 Big South) at Eastern Kentucky (7-4, 3-2 ASUN)

Kickoff – 5 p.m. at Roy Kidd Stadium in Richmond, Kentucky (ESPN+)

Series – First meeting

Coaches – Gardner-Webb: Tre Lamb (12-14, third season); Eastern Kentucky: Walt Wells (16-13, third season) 3 Players to Watch – Gardner-Webb: QB Bailey Fisher (220 of 339, 2,755 yards, 18 TDs, 10 INTs; 8 TD rushes), DE Ty French (61 tackles, 11 sacks, 15 QBH), LB William Rainey (92 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3 takeaways); Eastern Kentucky: QB Parker McKinney (278 of 402, 3,502 yards, 28 TDs, 7 INTs; 372 rushing yards, 8 TDs), RB Braedon Sloan (600 rushing yards, 7 TDs; 39 receptions, 495 yards, 3 TDs), LB Matthew Jackson (77 tackles, 4 PBU, 2 FR)

Notable – While Gardner-Webb is making its first playoff appearance compared to EKU’s 22nd (tied for second-most in history), the Runnin’ Bulldogs can be encouraged by the Big South’s 9-6 all-time first-round record. Additionally, the Colonels haven’t won a game in their last seven appearances (last playoff win in 1993). When G-W earned FedEx Ground FCS National Team of the Week honors by defeating North Carolina A&T for the conference title, Narii Gaither and Jayden Brown combined to rush for 200 yards and four touchdowns. EKU powered into the playoffs by beating Kennesaw State as McKinney passed for a career-high 427 yards and tied the program’s single-game record with five TD passes.

Up Next – The winner will advance to play at No. 5 seed William & Mary (10-1) in the second round (2 p.m. ET on Dec. 3)

Prediction – Eastern Kentucky 31, Gardner-Webb 28

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Idaho (7-4, 6-2 Big Sky) at Southeastern Louisiana (8-3, 5-1 Southland)

Kickoff – 7 p.m. at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond, Louisiana (ESPN+)

Series – First meeting

Coaches – Idaho: Jason Eck (7-4, first season); Southeastern Louisiana: Frank Scelfo (33-22, fifth season)

3 Players to Watch – Idaho: QB Gevani McCoy (185 of 272, 2,376 yards, 25 TDs, 5 INTs), WR Hayden Hatten (74 receptions, 1,000 yards, 15 TDs), LB Fa’Avae Fa’Avae (99 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2 FF); Southeastern Louisiana: QB Eli Sawyer (121 of 194, 1,605 yards, 11 TDs, 1 INT), WR Gage Larvadain (45 receptions, 582 yards, 2 TDs; 25.0-yard KOR average), LB Donte’ Daniels (79 tackles, 5.5 TFL)

Notable – Idaho is enjoying its first winning season since 2016, and that includes the first four season of the Vandals’ return from the FBS level. McCoy, the Big Sky freshman of the year, missed the regular-season finale, with Jack Layne stepping in to pass for 255 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Woods (814 rushing yards, 2 TDs) is the Vandals’ rushing leader, but Roshaun Johnson (12 total TDs) does the heavy lifting around an opponent’s goal line. SLU handed UIW (10-1) its only loss and Jacksonville State (9-2) one of its two losses. With Zy Alexander, Jack Henderson and Ferlando Jordan, the Lions gained three of the five defensive back spots on the All-Southland first team. Sawyer and Cephus Johnson III (1,146 passing yards, 419 rushing yards) split time behind center.

Up Next – The winner will advance to play at No. 6 seed Samford (10-1) on Dec. 3 (3 p.m. ET on Dec. 3)

Prediction – Southeastern Louisiana 33, Idaho 31

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Southeast Missouri (9-2, 5-0 Ohio Valley) at Montana (7-4, 4-4 Big Sky)

Kickoff – 10 p.m. at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula, Montana (ESPN2)

Series – First meeting

Coaches – Southeast Missouri: Tom Matukewicz (50-51, ninth season; 51-51 overall); Montana: Bobby Hauck (115-33, 12th season; 130-82 overall)

3 Players to Watch – Southeast Missouri: RB Geno Hess (206 carries, 1,569 yards; 21 total TDs), ILB Bryce Norman (108 tackles, 7 QBH, 2 takeaways), DB Lawrence Johnson (76 tackles, 4 sacks, INT, 8 PBU); Montana: QB Lucas Johnson (161 of 254, 1,857 yards, 19 TDs, 6 INTs; 7 rush TDs), LB Patrick O’Connell (64 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 takeaways), S Robby Hauck (95 tackles, 4 TFL)

Notable – Montana gained an FCS-record 26th playoff bid despite a 55-21 loss to Montana State last Saturday. Still, the Grizzlies have a plus-206 scoring margin that is sixth-best in the FCS and second-best among teams in action in the first round (Saint Francis, plus-212). Robby Hauck has 459 career tackles, which ranks third in Big Sky history but the total is only 14 shy of the record. Both starting QBs have battled injuries recently. SEMO’s Paxton DeLaurent has missed the last two games, with true freshman Patrick Heitert subbing in for him. Hess is coming off a career-high 317 rushing yards against Murray State, while the 439 UM surrendered to Montana State was its most allowed in nearly 24 years.

Up Next – The winner will advance to play at No. 3 seed North Dakota State (9-2) in the second round (3:30 p.m. on Dec. 3)

Prediction – Montana 42, Southeast Missouri 28