FCS College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet Stephen F. Austin vs. Tarleton State, More Saturday Games

FCS College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet Stephen F. Austin vs. Tarleton State, More Saturday Games article feature image

Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images. Pictured: A white oak bourbon barrel.

  • Saturday's Week 7 college football slate features a number of stellar games at both the FBS and FCS levels.
  • Keg breaks down three FCS games on Saturday, including Stephen F. Austin vs. Tarleton State and Villanova vs. Richmond.
  • Check out all three of Keg's top FCS college football bets for Saturday below.

The first half of the FCS season has been exciting on all fronts, but things are getting serious quickly. We are 38 days away from Selection Sunday, and teams have only another six weeks to prove themselves and find their way into the FCS Playoff picture.

Eight teams have yet to lose a game this season, and only four of those are 5-0. But here's where it gets crazy: Three are in the Big Sky. The only 5-0 non-Big Sky team is Jackson State, which sits at 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the SWAC.

I wake up motivated pic.twitter.com/QwU8r6oUPa

— Deion Sanders Jr (@DeionSandersJr) October 11, 2022

Looking at this week's slate, you might think we were 1-2 weeks away from the end of the season with how many big-name matchups we have — the biggest of all being the battle for the Dakota Marker.

There aren't any undefeated vs. undefeated matchups, but some teams that have yet to lose a game will face their most formidable challenge so far.

One of those is Montana, as it will look to keep the Little Brown Stein in the same place it’s been since 1999 when it takes on Idaho.

A majority of the big matchups I mentioned are coming in the CAA. The CAA leads all conferences with six teams ranked inside the top 25. It’s the biggest conference in the FCS, but regardless, to see the entire conference performing at such a high level is exciting.

Let's look at two CAA matchups that feature four ranked teams and a WAC showdown at the top of the rankings that could have huge implications on FCS Playoff positions.

FCS Week 7 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.

1 p.m. ET
Elon -14
3:30 p.m. ET
Richmond -9.5
7 p.m. ET
Tarleton State -6.5
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.

Elon vs. Rhode Island

Saturday, Oct. 15
1 p.m. ET
Elon -14

The Phoenix sits atop the CAA at 3-0 in the conference and 5-1 overall, having not lost a game since Week 1. Elon is chasing its first playoff berth since 2018, and this team is good enough to not only get there but potentially advance.

To stay undefeated in the conference, it’ll need to pick up a fifth straight series win over Rhode Island. The Phoenix took down the Rams last year in a game that likely kept URI from getting into the playoffs for the first time in over 30 years.

Elon ranks third in the CAA regarding yardage allowed, giving up 332 yards a game. The Rams, meanwhile, are eighth and allow 369.2 yards per contest.

Phoenix quarterback Matthew McKay leads all CAA signal-callers in passing yards this season and ranks second in terms of efficiency. I expect him to have a big game against a Rhode Island defense that ranks sixth in the conference in passing yards allowed.

One thing that could give him trouble, though, is the Rams' secondary. URI ranks second in the conference in picks, but McKay has thrown just two on the season.

The Phoenix lead the conference in time of possession as well, something I think they'll emphasize on the road this week to weaken the Rams’ home-field advantage.

Lines aren’t yet out for this game as of writing, but I like the Phoenix to get the win here.

However, I would be hesitant about them as a big road favorite because Rhode Island is a good team. The Rams aren’t far off in most CAA statistical rankings, and they're a home underdog with a chip on their shoulder from the last few meetings against Elon.

I'll be looking to bet Elon at any number -14 or better.

Pick: Elon -14

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Villanova vs. Richmond

Saturday, Oct. 15
3:30 p.m. ET
Richmond -9.5

Our second CAA matchup of the day will see two more ranked teams square off. Villanova and Richmond enter this game at 1-1 in conference and 3-2 on the season. They’re also both coming off of a bye week.

The Wildcats are a fixture among the top of the FCS, ranking third in active top-25 appearances while winning the conference in 2016 and 2019.

Richmond finds itself in the top 25 more often than not, but it hasn’t beaten Villanova since 2017.

Spiders signal-caller Reece Udinski leads the CAA in completion percentage and passing yards per game. He has also thrown just one interception against 13 passing touchdowns.

The Spiders average more passing yards per game than any other CAA team with 307.8 per contest, but they’ll be going up against a Villanova defense that allows just 163.8 per contest.

The Spiders defense sets these two teams apart the most. Richmond ranks second in scoring defense in the conference, giving up just 19 points per game. It also ranks fifth in both pass and rush defense among CAA teams.

Defensive back Aaron Banks is one of the best in the country, racking up three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and 16 tackles on the season.

I think Richmond will end its losing streak in the series this year. No official line is out yet, but I would back the Spiders as high as a 9.5-point favorite.

Pick: Richmond -9.5

Tarleton State vs. Stephen F. Austin

Saturday, Oct. 15
7 p.m. ET
Tarleton State -6.5

To understand why Saturday's game between Tarleton State and Stephen F. Austin is so important, there are a few things you need to know.

  • The WAC is only halfway through its second year in its return as a football conference. In its prime, the historic conference was home to most of the current Mountain West and a collection of teams that are now scattered across the Big 12, Pac-12, Big Sky, C-USA, etc.
  • Only one team from the WAC and the ASUN will earn an automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs, decided by the ASUN-WAC power ranking. The ASUN-WAC power ranking is calculated by bracketologist Warren Nolan. Only games against FCS teams eligible for the FCS Championship factor into the calculation.
  • Tarleton State is currently in a transition from Division II to the FCS. Despite the Texans leading the WAC at 1-0 in the conference and 4-1 on the season, they’re ineligible to make the FCS Playoffs. Therefore, losing to Tarleton would not affect the Lumberjacks’ standing in the power rankings.

Here is the first released ASUN-WAC power rankings to determine the partnership's automatic qualifying bid to the FCS playoffs. If the regular season was over today, Stephen F. Austin would possess the AQ.

Teams with an asterisk are not eligible for the AQ. pic.twitter.com/kDexSx6dEX

— FCS Football (@FCS_STATS) October 10, 2022

Welcome to the WAC-ASUN, where the conference winner is made up, and wins and losses don’t matter.

Beau Allen went to high school in Lexington, Kentucky, where he was a top-15 quarterback in the nation. He turned down offers from Georgia, Michigan, Maryland, Cincinnati and others to attend Kentucky. Then, in August, just 19 days before the FCS season began, he transferred to Tarleton.

He now has the Texans at the top of the conference and leads the WAC in total offense, passing for 1,545 yards and rushing for 127 in six games. He ranks first in passing yards per game, touchdowns, passing efficiency, yards per attempt, yards per completion and sits second in passing yards on the season.

The Lumberjacks lead the conference in offense, scoring 36 points per game, with the Texans not far off at 34.4 points per contest.

They're close in defensive metrics as well, with neither team being particularly great. Tarleton gives up 29.2 points per contest, while SFA is next in line at 29.33.

One big difference between the two teams lies in the run game. Tarleton ranks second in the conference, averaging 166 rush yards per game, while SFA sits fourth at 129 per game.

And while the Texans have been solid against the rush, allowing only 153 rush yards per game, the Lumberjacks are giving up 208.7 yards per game to rank second-to-last.

Tarleton should still find success passing the ball, but it can still get it done on the ground if it runs into trouble.

SFA leads the WAC in passing defense, giving up just 190 yards through the air per game. But it struggles in the trenches. No team has been worse when it comes to stopping third downs, as opponents are converting those opportunities at a 43.7% clip.

Tarleton is a better team than Stephen F. Austin, in my opinion. I would back the Texans in this game regardless. But with a WAC title being the most significant accomplishment they can achieve this season and SFA knowing that a loss has little impact on its chances to receive an auto bid to the playoffs, I love Tarleton here.

No line is out yet, and this may be one of the most challenging games to figure out where a line opens given all of the factors at play.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Tarleton on either side of a three-point line. Hopefully, we can get Allen and the Texans as an underdog, but I would consider backing them as high as a 6.5-point favorite.

Pick: Tarleton State -6.5

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