I’ve been interested in FCS pigskin ever since Appalachian State took down Michigan as a 32-point underdog in 2007. Enough fellow college football fans are like-minded that ESPN is able to turn a profit with the occasional prime-time FCS kickoff in fall or winter.
The iconic ’07 upset was no fluke, and the Football Championship Subdivision has gotten better since then. WagerBop doesn’t parrot the narrative that less and less talented youths are interested in playing football, rather it appears there’s more than enough prep gridiron talent for even 120-ish FBS teams to recruit and utilize. North Dakota State tripped #13 ranked Iowa a few years ago, Yale and Fordham have each beaten Army recently, and FCS service academy The Citadel beat Georgia Tech in 2019. Those outcomes should tell you everything about the Football Championship Subdivision’s ability to ball-out against the top level. (Apart from NDSU, none of those Saturday surprises were engineered by FCS playoff contenders, but the rank-and-file of the division.)
But until the coronavirus pandemic forced the FCS to host a “2020” season in the spring semester of 2021, it wasn’t clear just how much the FCS’s popularity has piggybacked off of the FBS. Americans are attuned to expect college and NFL kickoffs in the fall, and we’re happy to tune into FBS vs FCS games or FCS playoff games while pigskin rules the airwaves. Promoting a stand-alone FCS season in a spring during which even the XFL is dormant? That’s a harder chore.
Online sportsbooks are faithfully putting-up markets on the 2021 FCS season, but we can’t blame college football junkies for not taking part in greater numbers. Part of the problem is that the full-fledged return of sports has saturated media coverage; still another issue is that a shaky FCS spring schedule took so long to conjure up that many websites are still advertising the wrong information and dates.
It’s one thing when you have to peruse message boards to get injury info on lesser-known college football teams. Not knowing who is playing when is a lot more prohibitive to betting, especially when there’s a million other attractions at the bookmaker’s counter.
WagerBop will do our part to clear the fog and paint a sharper picture of the spring FCS season. After all, pigskin enthusiasts should be viewing the games as a blessing, a special treat at a time of year when football is usually MIA while Facebook drowns in NBA chatter. We know a bunch of the teams are really good, and a combination of cable TV and streaming makes them easy to watch. Why not?
Let’s create some clarity and find a few fun FCS bets to recommend in a weekly preview. Heck, we might find that Las Vegas is as lazy as Sports Illustrated when it comes to learning about the FCS. Bookmakers who couldn’t care less about a market have 2 things in common – a vulnerability to basic human nature, and a 60% chance to lose money on said market once gamblers figure out the shot.
Scroll onward for our best shot at handicapping Week 10 of the FCS spring football season.
FCS Match-Ups, Odds, and Predictions for Saturday, April 10th
Kennesaw State Owls at Monmouth Hawks
Kennesaw State got an early jump on the spring FCS campaign, beating the Shorter Hawks 35-3 on February 27th. Kennesaw has improved to 4-0 since then by convincing margins, save for a late comeback bid from Charleston Southern in a 24-19 victory for the undefeated Owls.
So why is Monmouth only a (+6.5) underdog at Bet Online? The (Monmouth) Hawks are technically “unbeaten” at 2-0, but there’s more to it than that, starting with the Hawks’ performance against a common opponent on 3/27. Monmouth intercepted Charleston Southern QB Jack Chambers 3 times in a 35-17 win, then went on to destroy Gardner-Webb 48-19 behind 200+ combined rushing yards from sophomore RBs Juwan Farri and Romeo Holden. Farri scored 4 times and was voted Big South Offensive Player of the Week. Monmouth upset a ranked Kennesaw St. squad in 2019.
Saturday’s game will mark Kennesaw State’s maiden road trip of the season. Owl skipper Brian Bohannon stems from the Paul Johnson coaching tree and his team travels well thanks to a patient, methodical Flexbone playbook. But we have no idea how a roster in this kind of weird situation will handle its first road trip against a tougher opponent than any of the 4 teams it has beaten.
Kennesaw State has scored many key victories since Bohannon took the helm of a fledgling program. His Owls are often terrific under pressure. Is the (-6.5) number too generous to the visitors? Sure, but you can easily imagine KSU prevailing by a TD + XP in the contest. Bet Online’s (52.5) O/U total on the kickoff is another story, a stupidly inflated line based on the average point scoring of both schools without consideration for what a grudging battle it’s likely to be. Incidentally, a low-scoring game could result in the point spread looking kind of silly too, even if KSU wins.
Picks: Under (52.5) and Monmouth ATS
Alabama A&M Bulldogs at Jackson State Tigers
ESPN will televise the Jackson State vs Alabama A&M kickoff on Saturday afternoon, and should be pleased to know that the upcoming SWAC battle is more tightly-handicapped than KSU-at-Monmouth with Alabama A&M a (-3) road favorite and forecasted to produce an exciting 8 TDs even at (56) points Over/Under.
Is the latter line optimistic for 2 offenses with out-of-whack biorhythms? After all, this is usually the time for a Spring Game in which the 2 most-exciting plays are a token long run and a pass over the middle for 14 yards. The Alabama A&M Bulldogs have only placed once so far thanks to a forfeit by Alcorn State and other snafus. Jackson State has played a whopping 5 times and leads the SWAC East in victories for at least the time being, but the Tigers fared poorly on offense in a 34-14 loss at home last weekend.
Senior Bulldog QB Aqeel Glass tossed 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in Alabama A&M’s last contest back on 3/6 – the kind of potent, reckless performance that usually spells trouble for “Under” picks moving forward. But the senior has served as team captain, enjoys nice vision at 6’5″ and does not tend to scramble around often. Coaches won’t be able to help but lean on the OL after the Bulldogs pushed SCSU around 31-7 despite all of the turnovers, only to then face a long layoff.
Not to neglect the biggest headlines. “Prime Time” Deion Sanders is coaching the Jackson State Tigers and isn’t resting on his (neon) laurels after losing a football game, announcing a QB change days after the Tigers’ 20-point loss to Southern. Nobody can accuse Sanders of meek decision-making, but a little more patience might be in order. Don’t be surprised to see both teams arrive full of anxiety under bright “lights” or at least nicer cameras and larger viewership than usual.
Youngstown State Penguins at Missouri State Bears
Here’s a counterintuitive point spread for you. Youngstown State, a college steeped in football tradition, located in the middle of Pigskinville USA and veteran of countless “thrash for cash” kickoffs against mighty Penn State, is a (+3) underdog at Missouri State, a school known for NCAA basketball success and the “Wear Bear Hair” tradition in gymnasiums. The Springfield school has only won 1 FCS playoff game.
That could change soon as Missouri State is 4-1 in spring FCS play, boasting 3 straight wins over ranked opponents. Springfield coach Bobby Petrino is the infamous dirt-bag who double-crossed his wife while running the Atlanta Falcons into the pits, but there’s no denying an ex-NFL skipper brings a skill set that the Bears can utilize. Quarterback Matt Struck was cool and confident leading the Bears from behind in last week’s victory over SIU, setting up an even bigger match with Youngstown State.
This pick is a simple matter of motivation. The visiting Penguins
have lost Sidney Crosby for 2 games with an ankle sprain have suffered a bunch of heartbreaking defeats and have no chance to earn conference honors or a playoff bid, unlike Missouri State.
Pick: Missouri State ATS
Holy Cross Crusaders at Colgate Raiders
Whoops – sorry ‘Boppers, we had a prediction set to publish on this Patriot League contest before the game was cancelled less than 24 hours ago. Holy Cross, having risen like Lazarus to regain prominence on the gridiron at an unlikely time, will play Bucknell for the league title next weekend.
North Dakota State at Northern Iowa
The FCS got a whole lot more interesting on February 27th, when North Dakota State football lost for the first time
in 600,000 years since 2017.
It wasn’t like you might imagine, some clash of titans that ended with NDSU coming up just short against an all-time great roster from an opposing school. Southern Illinois simply blasted the Bison, controlling the rock while scoring 38 points and frustrating North Dakota State QB Zeb Noland.
Zeb’s not dead, baby. Zeb’s not dead. NDSU rebounded by whipping Missouri State 25-0, then building up a new 3-game winning streak and beating rival North Dakota by 3 touchdowns. Northern Iowa is a (+9) point underdog for a 4 PM CST kickoff against the visiting Bison this Saturday.
It’s unwise to pick against another North Dakota State streak for another 4-5 years or so, with the Bison having essentially rigged the FCS with Top-25 level recruits and no intentions of
playing a fair schedule moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision any time soon. Even the underdog point spread is an iffy choice considering that Northern Iowa’s offense has fallen flat against athletic opponents.
However, the (34.5) Over/Under line at FanDuel Sportsbook appears to be another wildly-inaccurate point total market, given that NDSU could cover that number by itself with another good game, and/or take out more frustrations on a
lower-division less-talented roster if the Panthers make any kind of statement on offense in the early-going.
Delaware Blue Hens at Delaware State Hornets
Delaware is a proud-enough pigskin program to have a whole playbook named after it, but the generous (-25.5) point spread on the Blue Hens is too generous, considering the rivalry scenario and Delaware State’s recent 38-27 victory over a Howard squad that had 6 weeks to prepare for a rematch.
Pick: Delaware State ATS
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.