FCS Playoffs Betting Guide: Tips, Insights for Every Quarterfinal Matchup
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dawson Weber
We’ve got betting trends, analysis, picks and more for every FCS quarterfinal matchup this weekend.
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.
Maine Black Bears at Weber State Wildcats
- Odds: Weber State -6.5
- Over/Under: 46
- Time: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)
- TV: ESPN2
A majority of spread tickets are on Maine, and since 2005, it’s not been profitable to fade the public in the FCS postseason. Teams receiving fewer than 50% of spread tickets have gone 70-76-1 against the spread. — John Ewing
Is the Public Overvaluing Maine?
Maine has a legitimate rush defense, ranking second in FCS with a strength of schedule of 36th in FCS. Weber State has a similar strength of schedule, but falls short in almost every statistical category including sacks, total defense and total offense.
However, Sagarin ratings call for this to be Weber State -6.5 on a neutral site. But money on the Black Bears, who have hit their offensive stride as of late, will continue to push this number down. — Collin Wilson
Metrics that Matter
Weber State’s aggressive defense — led by two excellent senior linebackers — ranks fourth in the nation on third down (27.0%). Maine’s offense, which ranks 82nd at 34.7% on third downs, could have trouble sustaining drives.
However, Weber State’s offense has actually performed even worse on third down, converting only 28.7% of the time (111th in nation). Maine has been almost as stout on third down defense at No. 8 in the nation (28.0%).
These are two defenses that also rank in the top 10 in sacks and forced turnovers.
I think this is an under game dominated by both defenses, especially on third downs. In a matchup of two top 25 scoring defenses — both allow around 21 points per game — I think it’s first to 24 wins.
Look out for Weber State special teams, which is top five in FCS in kick return average and successfully faked two punts in last week’s playoff victory. — Stuckey
Colgate Raiders at North Dakota State Bison
- Odds: NDSU -25
- Over/Under: 42.5
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
North Dakota State is the Alabama of FCS. Winners of 18 straight games, this will be the Bison’s ninth straight quarterfinal appearance.
But just how good is North Dakota State? Well, per Sagarin ratings, the Bison are the 24th best team in the nation — that includes FBS teams.
If you take that as science, NDSU would be favored on a neutral field over the following teams (and many others): Miami, Michigan State, Boise State and Oregon. — Stuckey
Trends to Know
North Dakota State is 22-2 straight-up and 16-7-1 ATS in postseason games since 2005, covering by an average of 8.2 points. — Ewing
NDSU Has Faced Tougher Tests
This spread opened at Colgate +28 on Sunday before being hammered down to North Dakota State -21 at multiple shops. The number is back on the rise — it’s at 25 as of writing — and is expected to close back at Colgate plus four scores.
Sagarin ratings make this game North Dakota State -20.5 at a neutral site, but the FargoDome is the complete opposite of neutral and could be classified as the most hostile environment in all of FCS.
This game will pit strength against strength as the Colgate rush defense ranks fourth against North Dakota State’s ninth-ranked rush offense.
Strength of schedule is always important in FCS, where the Bison have a major advantage with the 14th-toughest schedule compared to the the Raiders’ 77th. Colgate plays in the Patriot league, which is considered the 11th-strongest of 13 leagues in FCS by the BennettRank. — Wilson
Bet to Watch
NDSU averages just 184.3 passing yards per game (87th in nation), so as Collin mentioned, its top 10 rushing attack makes the offense go. The Bison average an impressive 6.4 yards per carry.
Well, led by two excellent senior linebackers, Colgate boasts a run defense that allows a stingy 2.62 yards per rush, which ranks in the top three in all of FCS. We already saw what this Colgate defense can do against a very good FBS rushing attack in Army.
Colgate held the Black Knights to 4.4 yards per attempt — 0.3 yards below their season average of 4.7. The Raiders can clearly compete with a solid FBS caliber rushing attack, which is what NDSU has.
Army’s yards per rush by opponent:
- Duke: 3.6
- Liberty: 6.1
- Hawaii: 4.6
- Oklahoma: 4.3
- Buffalo: 4.4
- SJSU: 5.2
- Miami: 4.7
- Eastern Michigan: 4.0
- Air Force: 4.1
- Lafayette: 5.1
- Colgate: 4.4
Colgate has the No. 1 scoring defense in all of FCS, holding opponents to a silly 7.0 points per game, including an FCS-record five shutouts. The Raiders will face a Bison offense that ranks in the top six in scoring with 42.1 points per game. And while many will publicize this as NDSU offense vs. Colgate defense, don’t sleep on the Bison defense, which ranks second in FCS in scoring at 12 points per game.
I think this is simply too many points in what should be a defensive battle. Colgate’s run defense can keep the Raiders in this game. I like Colgate and the under, especially considering NDSU plays slow.
That experience Colgate got at Army will pay off here. The Raiders weren’t intimidated then and I expect them to be even less intimidated on Saturday. — Stuckey
South Dakota State Jackrabbits at Kennesaw State Owls
- Odds: South Dakota State -6.5
- Over/Under: 57
- Time: 2 p.m. ET
- TV: WatchESPN
In existence for only four seasons, Kennesaw State has won 15 straight games at home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the team has a great home-field advantage, which is a newsworthy topic after only 3,500 showed up for last week’s playoff victory over Wofford.
Kennesaw State has defeated every FCS opponent it’s faced this season and really should’ve won at FBS Georgia State to start the year.
Trend to Know
Since 2005, favorites of a touchdown or more have gone 51-36 (59%) ATS in FCS postseason play, but road favorites of at least seven points are only 2-3 ATS. — Ewing
Good Matchup for Kennesaw State?
According to Sagarin ratings, this line might be off, with South Dakota State being favored by 10 on a neutral field over Kennesaw State.
You can expect plenty of points in this contest, as South Dakota State ranks fifth in total offense to Kennesaw State’s rank of 20th.
Kennesaw State implements one of the best triple option attacks in FCS, which may be an issue for a Jacks team that allows 4.1 yards per carry. South Dakota State uses a quick strike offense through the air, so expect the Owls to play possession football while leaning on a pass defense that allows just 152.4 yards per game, good enough to rank seventh in FCS. — Wilson
Triple Option Will Pose Problems for SDSU
I love Kennesaw State at anything +7 or higher, as I think the Owls have a great shot of winning this game. Collin mentioned the triple option, which is indeed deadly: The Owls average 356.3 yards per game on the ground, which is the second-most in FCS. They also had an FCS-leading 56 rushing touchdowns.
Their triple-headed monster starts with touchdown machine Chandler Burks at quarterback, but the real explosiveness is in their very deep backfield that’s led by Darnell Holland, who averages a ridiculous 11.9 yards per carry.
Most importantly: South Dakota State hasn’t faced a triple option attack since 2016 when it got torched by Cal Poly for 440 rushing yards in a 38-31 home loss. The Jacks simply don’t face these types of offenses in their conference.
In regards to the total, I think this is a great spot to look at the over, assuming the weather isn’t too bad (as winds and rain could play a major role in Kennesaw this weekend).
Kennesaw has great defensive numbers, but it hasn’t faced this caliber of offense this season. The over is obvious on the surface with two of the three highest scoring teams in the nation, but the fact that neither has faced this type of offense all season puts it over the top for me. — Stuckey
UC Davis Aggies at Eastern Washington Eagles
- Odds: Eastern Washington -8
- Over/Under: 71
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
- TV: WatchESPN
There’s a real difference in pedigree here: This is EWU’s 10th trip to the quarterfinals, while UC Davis won its first ever playoff game last week. — Stuckey
Favorites have gone 81-69-1 (54%) ATS in FCS postseason play since 2005. When the home team is favored by at least a touchdown, they’ve gone 44-28 (61%) ATS. — Ewing
EWU Offense Should Keep Rolling
Sagarin has this game at Eastern Washington -8 at a neutral site, but these teams played just one month ago in a 59-20 blitz by EWU at Roos Field. This could be an uphill climb again for UC Davis, which has never beaten Eastern Washington in seven games between the two programs.
UC Davis is 86th in total defense against an Eastern Washington team that ranks second overall in total offense. The Aggies did keep this close through first half in last month’s game, but look for Eastern Washington to stay in rhythm after scoring 48, 59, 74 and 42 in its past four games. — Wilson
UC Davis Should Score, Too
UC Davis has one of the most electric passing attacks in all of FCS. Jake Maier is one of the best quarterbacks at that level and Keelan Doss (109 catches) is a future NFL wide receiver.
Both teams rank in the top 10 in FCS scoring. EWU one of the best offenses in the country but is also balanced, ranking top 20 in both passing and defense. The Eagles also boast a very opportunistic defense that leads FCS with six touchdowns.
I think the look here is over or nothing. — Stuckey
Editor’s note: The opinions on these games are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.