FCS College Football Odds, Picks & Predictions: 3 Bets for Saturday’s Slate
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- Keg has three best bets for the FCS slate, including Fordham vs. Holy Cross and Rhode Island vs. William & Mary.
- Dive in below now!
With November fast approaching, we enter crunch time of the FCS season. Only four weeks of the regular season remain before the FCS Playoff selection show on Nov. 20.
As we draw closer, some teams find themselves fighting for playoff position, while others will soon accept that their playoff hopes have ended — something that will definitely come into handicapping games over the next few weeks.
This week’s premier game is without a doubt Southern at Jackson State, as the Tigers will become just the second team in history to host ESPN’s College GameDay.
Outside of the College GameDay SWAC showdown, there are three games I’m targeting on Saturday’s slate.
FCS College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Fordham vs. Holy Cross
Saturday’s matchup between Fordham and Holy Cross will all but decide the winner of the Patriot League. No other team in the conference has more than two wins on the season, while the Rams and Crusaders have just one loss between them.
Holy Cross will host Fordham in the battle for the Ram-Crusader Cup. The Crusaders lead the all-time series, 32-25-2, while Fordham has not lifted the Cup since the 2016 meeting that took place at Yankee Stadium.
The Rams enter the meeting with one of the best offensive units in FCS, fresh off of a 45-14 rout of Stony Brook. The Crusaders, meanwhile, look to remain undefeated, as they sit 7-0 and are in pursuit of one of the best seasons in program history.
Fordham quarterback TIm DeMorat leads both the FCS and FBS with 3,023 passing yards on the season and ranks second in touchdowns with 33 behind only Incarnate Word’s Lindsey Scott.
DeMorat isn’t quantity over quality either; he’s one of the most efficient signal-callers in the country, completing 67.6% of his passing and posting an efficiency rating of 196.7.
Meanwhile, Rams receivers Fotis Kokosioulis and MJ Wright represent the only two players on a single FCS team averaging over 100 receiving yards per game.
The Crusaders defense represents Fordham’s toughest challenge of the season. Holy Cross is holding opponents to just 181.4 passing yards and allowing an average completion percentage of just 53.3% per game — a far cry from the 436.9 yards and 68% the Rams average.
Holy Cross has also logged eight interceptions while giving up a third-down conversion rate of 38% and allowing points on just 64.7% of opponent trips to the red zone. This Holy Cross defense is no joke.
Complementing that unit is the 18th-best rushing offense in FCS. Holy Cross has the ability to methodically move the ball down the field and keep the ball out of DeMorat’s hands, which is its most direct path to victory.
However, that can quickly become jeopardized by a Holy Cross team that ranks bottom-25 among all FCS teams in penalty yards. The Crusaders average 72 penalty yards per game. If these mistakes continue, there’s no doubt it could cost them their season.
Despite the penalty concerns, I still think this Crusaders team is on the fast track to an FCS Playoffs semifinal appearance. Back the Crusaders to move to 8-0 and keep the Ram-Crusader Cup in Worcester.
Lines aren’t put as of writing, but I would feel comfortable backing the Crusaders as high as a 6-point favorite.
Pick: Holy Cross -6 or Better
Rhode Island vs. William & Mary
Rhode Island enters this game coming off one of the most hard-fought battles the college football world has seen. URI and Monmouth’s reenactment of Ali vs. Lyle was perfect right down to the 11th-round knockout.
The seven-overtime performance ending in a 48-46 Rams win set the record for the most overtimes in an FCS game. — though, I’m not sure that record will hang around long with these awful overtime rules.
Be that as it may, the Rams must shift their focus to the Tribe. Both teams enter the matchup at 3-1 in CAA play, tied for second with Delaware and Richmond both there as well.
If the Rams want to knock off the 10th-ranked team, they’ll need another stand-out performance from running back Marques DeShields for the second game in a row. He set a season-high with 161 yards rushing while tacking on two touchdowns against Monmouth.
William & Mary, meanwhile, ranks fourth in the CAA, giving up 136 rush yards per contest.
Speaking of defense, I’m not sure Rhode Island will have an answer for the Tribe on the ground. The Rams rank ninth among CAA teams, giving up 163.6 yards per contest. On the other side, the Tribe lead the conference in rushing offense, averaging 5.7 yards per carry and posting 253 rushing yards per contest.
I don’t see the Rams pulling this off through the air either. William & Mary boasts the third-best passing defense in the CAA, compared to a Rams passing attack that ranks sixth in yards per game and 10th when it comes to competition percentage at just 55.3%.
The Rams have played great football as of late, and if they win this game, it would send the conference into an absolute frenzy. There’s nothing I’d love more than chaos the rest of the season in the CAA.
But Rhode Island has had turnover issues, giving the ball up seven times in its last three games.
In addition to turnovers and their inability to stop William & Mary’s run game, the Rams have been awful when it comes to maintaining possession. Meanwhile, the Tribe have been one of the best teams in this area.
W&M ranks inside the top 20 in FCS with 33 minutes of possession per game compared to the Rams, who hold the ball for just 27 minutes per contest.
What sealed the deal for me has been Rhode Island’s performance in the red zone. The Rams have scored on just 69% of trips while allowing opponents to come away with points 83.3% of the time.
Back William and Mary to take care of business as high as a 3-point favorite.
Pick: William & Mary -3 or Better
Chattanooga vs. Furman
My Mocs. Your Mocs. Our Mocs.
Writing the FCS Bottom of the Barrel has been fun, but I’m not afraid to admit that winners haven’t been overly abundant — other than one team.
The Chattanooga Mocs are 2-0 when featured in the Bottom of the Barrel after last week’s absolute rout of Mercer.
So, yes, I’m going back to the well with the Mocs. And why wouldn’t I? They’re a great football team — an excellent football team some might say.
— Robby Donoho III (@RobbyDonoho) November 27, 2016
Chattanooga sits atop the SoCon standings at 6-1 on the season and 4-0 in conference play. Our Mocs hit the road to take on 6-2 Furman (4-1 SoCon) on Saturday afternoon.
For those unfamiliar, Chattanooga boasts one of the best defenses among all FCS teams, holding opponents to an average of just 16.4 points and 291 yards per contest.
Now after making quick work of a Mercer team that averages 38.5 points and 453 yards per game, it’ll turn its sights to a Furman team putting up 31.4 points and 430 yards per contest.
Furman enters as the No. 1 rushing offense in the SoCon, averaging 229 yards on the ground per contest. It’s a decently balanced offense as well, averaging 201.5 passing yards per game.
But the Paladins have yet to face a defense quite like the Mocs, who lead the conference by giving up just 86 rush yards a game on average. When Furman faced the fourth-best rush defense in East Tennessee State — which gives up 135 rushing yards per game — it was held to just 191 yards.
One area the Mocs hold an advantage over the Paladins is at the line of scrimmage. Chattanooga ranks second in the conference with 22 sacks on the season, while Furman has allowed 12 sacks on the year.
Turnovers haven’t been a serious issue for the Mocs, but that’s something they’ll need to be extra careful about against the Paladins. Chattanooga posts a turnover margin of +6 to lead the conference, but Furman isn’t far off at +5.
This game marks the Paladins’ homecoming. They’re hot right now, riding a three-game win streak. They’re also ranked inside the top 25 for the first time this season.
But Chattanooga is the better team by far. I think Furman is a good team, but it has benefited greatly from some of the competition it’s faced.
I expect Chattanooga’s run defense to be a rude awakening for the Paladins, which is why I’m backing our Mocs as high as a 6-point favorite to remain unbeaten in the conference.