While the NFL and Division 1A college football remains months away from even spring camps starting up, the FCS ranks are ready for primetime.
After postponing their fall 2020 schedule to COVID-19, most teams are now poised for a spring schedule that while shortened, still should offer a plethora of action.
Let’s take a closer look at the first full weekend of action and see where we can find the edge.
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
Southern Illinois vs. North Dakota (+2.5, O/U 48.5)
While they’re often overshadowed by their cross-state rival in the powerhouse that is North Dakota State, North Dakota has put together a quietly strong program. Led by seventh-year head coach “Bubba” Schweigert, the Fight Hawks return arguably the deepest and most experienced defense Missouri Valley Conference this spring.
For the Southern Illinois Salukis, the offense is carried by sophomore running back Javon Williams Jr. who has rushed for 100 yards or more in his last three games. On the defensive side of the ball, All-MVFC defensive end Anthony Knighton will return, as well as future NFL cornerback Qua Brown.
Entering this one having won 33 straight home openers, a current record in the FCS, the short number here is certainly warranted. What I’m looking at instead, however, is two of the strongest defenses in the Missouri Valley facing two offenses with potentially more questions than answers.
Add on the Salukis’ ability to run the ball, and I like both offenses to stall early and for this one to remain in the teens for each team.
Pick: Under 48.5
Youngstown State vs. North Dakota State (-23.5, O/U 52.5)
Though it’s now been over a year since first hired, Youngstown State brings in new head coach Doug Phillips (former Cincinnatti assistant) to take over what will be a young Penguins team this season. At the quarterback position, the Penguins expect to give both Junior Joe Craycraft and redshirt freshman Mark Waid snaps, at least early in the season.
For Phillips, a welcome to the FCS ranks has the potential to be quite an ugly one. Drawing defending three-time FCS Champion North Dakota State on the road, the Bison have won a record 38-straight games and 29 straight at home. While they lose their starting quarterback, they bring in Iowa State transfer Zeb Noland who should do just fine with some of the best WR talents the FCS has to offer.
Pick: North Dakota State -23.5
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