Morgan State vs NC Central Odds & Picks: How to Bet Thursday’s FCS Game
Michael Berg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: An NC Central football helmet.
Morgan State vs NC Central Odds
|Morgan State Odds|
-110o / -110u
|NC Central Odds|
-110o / -110u
The North Carolina Central Eagles have had 12 long days to think about their blowout loss to the Campbell Camels.
The loss not only ended a four-game winning streak to start the season, but it also ended their seven-game win streak that dated back to last season — the longest in FCS.
The Eagles now turn their sights to Morgan State as they look to get back on track and open up MEAC play with a win over the Bears.
Morgan State comes into this game already 0-1 in the MEAC after a last-second touchdown by Norfolk State gave the Spartans their first win of the season.
Losing in the closing seconds always hurts, but it hurts even more as Morgan State was set to beat Norfolk State for the first time since 2018 after losing 14 of its last 15 meetings against the Spartans.
And unlike the Eagles, who have had 12 days to prepare, the Bears must move on from that heartbreaking loss and shift their focus with just four days to prepare.
NC Central was voted to finish second in the MEAC, while Morgan State was picked last. Can the Eagles get the job done at home and cover the spread?
Alfonzo Graham is the MEAC's leading rusher, racking up 542 yards and four touchdowns this season while averaging 108.4 yards per contest.
He'll have his work cut out for him this week against NC Central's top-50 FCS run defense, but Morgan State may need him more than ever this game.
Quarterback Carson Baker ranks last in the conference in passing yards per game and second-to-last in completion percentage and efficiency. Going up against the 27th-best pass defense in the FCS, the Bears will lean heavily on Graham and the run game.
On the defensive side of the ball, Morgan State wins at the line of scrimmage. Lawrence Richardson and Erick Hunter lead this unit as both rank inside the top 10 in the conference in total tackles. The Bears also have Nana Asante, who ranks second in the MEAC in tackles for loss.
But when it comes to defending the pass, Morgan State has struggled. The Bears rank second-to-last in the conference in terms of pass defense, giving up an average of 225.4 yards per game.
They'll have to step up in a big way if they want to slow down the Eagles, who lead the conference in offensive efficiency.
As a team, the Eagles average 230.6 yards passing per contest and lead the conference in scoring with an average of 38.2 points.
Quarterback Davius Richard leads the conference in touchdowns on the season while also ranking first among MEAC quarterbacks in efficiency.
Wide receiver Devin Smith ranks second in the conference in receptions per game and is tied for second in touchdowns.
And he isn't alone — three other receivers have racked up over 100 yards on the season, while eight total receivers have more than five receptions. All but one averages at least eight yards per catch.
On the defensive side of the ball, NC Central ranks second in the conference in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 20.4 points per contest.
Its rush defense has limited opponents to 128.6 yards per game, but it will face its biggest challenge of the season against the conference's best back this week.
Morgan State vs NC Central Betting Pick
My biggest concern with Morgan State is penalties. The Bears are the most-penalized team in the MEAC, and it isn't close. Morgan State has 48 penalties on the season and has racked up 530 penalty yards. The next most-penalized team, Delaware State, has racked up 42 penalties for 368 yards on the season.
North Carolina Central has also been a problem in the red zone, giving up a score on only 66.7% of opponent trips. Moreover, the Eagles have three interceptions in the red zone this season. They're tied with SC State for the MEAC lead with six interceptions on the season.
Even if Morgan State's defense can improve against the pass — it's one of the worst in the conference — I still think penalties and the Eagles' red-zone defense will be too much to overcome.
Back the Eagles as high as a 9.5-point favorite, and look for NC Central to pull away late.