Saturday FCS Betting Odds & Previews: Villanova vs. Colgate, Youngstown vs. Samford

Saturday FCS Betting Odds & Previews: Villanova vs. Colgate, Youngstown vs. Samford article feature image
Credit:

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: William Latham

True or False: The 2019 college football betting season kicks off at 7 p.m. ET when Florida plays Miami?

FALSE!

The first college football game you can bet is at noon ET between Villanova and No. 13 Colgate. And the second is another FCS matchup later in the afternoon between Youngstown State and Samford. Both are televised and should be highly-competitive.

All four teams lost plenty of production from last year, so there are a lot of new pieces to handicap. Let’s take a quick look at each matchup.

FCS Betting Odds, Spread: Villanova at Colgate

  • Odds: Colgate -7 (opened -3)
  • Over/Under: 35.5
  • Date: Saturday, Aug. 24
  • Time: Noon ET
  • TV: CBSSN
  • Location: Hamilton, N.Y.

Colgate Snapshot

Colgate had an extremely successful 2018 season, primarily due to its record-setting defense.

While Colgate does retain the services of the preseason Patriot League Offensive and Defensive Players of the year (QB Grant Breneman and DE Nick Wheeler, respectively), it lost 14 starters (and 25 total seniors) from last year’s FCS playoff team.

The defense should still be solid but in all likelihood won’t come close to duplicating the FCS-leading 3.85 yards per play it allowed in 2018. On the other side of the ball, the Raiders will still be a rush-first offense. They were one of only 20 FCS teams with at least 500 rush attempts last season.

Villanova Snapshot

That said, Colgate didn’t lose as much as Villanova, which only returns eight starters from last year’s squad. One of those departed starters was senior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk. And Nova apparently still hasn’t settled on a starter among a group of seven (!) QBs with three or four likely candidates, including former NFL wideout Qadry Ismail’s son.

Not only will Villanova have a new quarterback under center, it lost a significant amount of wide receiver production. It will also have a new offensive coordinator — two actually, one for the running game and one for the passing game. Although, according to summer reports, Villanova isn’t expected to drastically change their schemes. (The Wildcats also have a new defensive coordinator and special teams coach.)

This offense should struggle, especially early in the season against any defense with a pulse

Conversely, the Villanova defense, which finished in the top 20 in yards per play last year, has potential. It all starts with one of the best cornerback tandems in the CAA and a respectable linebacker corps.

Betting Preview

As I previously mentioned, Colgate wants to pound the rock but their rushing attack won’t be as potent after the graduation  of 1,000 yard rusher James Holland. And I don’t expect Colgate to get much through the air against a stellar Villanova secondary.

With major questions at quarterback and wide receiver, Villanova will have a tough time exploiting the most vulnerable position group on Colgate’s defense: the secondary.

In what could be an absolute rock fight, the under warrants a look at anything more than 35.

In regards to the side, I actually like Villanova a little if you can get over 3.5.

Yes, ‘Nova is coming off back-to-back disappointing 5-6 seasons but it’s been crushed by horrible injury luck. Remember, this team beat Temple in Week 1 last year.

The Wildcats have also had promising recruiting classes of late — maybe even the best of any FCS team this past offseason. That should pay dividends in the near future.

A lot will come down to the unknown at quarterback, but Villanova can surprise the CAA this year, despite all of the departures. Meanwhile, I think Colgate is being slightly overvalued in the market after a phenomenal season but against very inferior competition in the Patriot League.

Don’t forget Villanova comes from the much superior conference. In fact, Nova is 32-4 all-time against teams from the Patriot League.

Colgate is at home with significant advantages at quarterback and in the kicking game, but getting anything over a field goal in a potential ugly slug-fest is certainly worth a look.

Youngstown State vs. Samford

  • Odds: Youngstown State -2.5 (opened -4)
  • Over/Under: 49.5
  • Date: Saturday, Aug. 24
  • Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
  • Location: Birmingham, AL

Samford Snapshot

Samford lost one of 2018’s best FCS quarterbacks. It won’t be easy to replace Devlin Hodges, who led the nation with 4,283 passing yards, All-American wide receiver Kelvin McKnight and defensive end Ahmad Gooden. To illustrate their impact, all three are currently on NFL rosters.

The quarterback competition at Samford still hasn’t been settled, which is troubling for a fast-paced offense that wants to spread defenses out and throw the ball. The Bulldogs were one of only four FCS teams to attempt more than 500 passes in 2018.

There could be growing pains for the nation’s top passing offense at the FCS level last year.

Youngstown Snapshot

This is actually a pretty fascinating matchup, since it’s a complete contrast in styles. Youngstown State is a physical team that wants to lean on the run. However, it will need to fill the void left by the graduation of star running back Tevin McCaster. The Penguins also lost a good chunk of their starting offensive line.

They do at least have experience at quarterback and receiver.

On the other side of the ball, the defense could be very stingy. It’s a talented unit that will benefit from the return of a few key pieces that missed last season due to injury.

Betting Preview

I have Youngstown State rated higher and think it will have a more successful season than Samford but I wouldn’t lay over a field goal.

This isn’t a true home game for Samford, but Homewood, Ala., isn’t too far from Birmingham. And the biggest advantage the Bulldogs might enjoy is conditioning. It’s supposed to be around 90 degrees which won’t bother Samford as much; the Bulldogs are used to practicing in the brutal southern summer heat.

There are also major question marks surrounding Youngstown’s kicking and punting, which could end up being the difference in what should be a competitive affair.

I said I liked Youngstown at -2.5 on our most recent podcast episode but -4 is a different story. Unless it dips back under a field goal, I would stay away.

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