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2018 FCS Playoffs: First Round Preview

The FCS will waste no time starting its playoff

NCAA Football: Nicholls State at Kansas Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 FCS Playoffs get underway today. There will be eight games over the course of the day with the winner of each game going on to face one of the eight nationally seeded teams next week. Most of the action will come in the mid-afternoon, but there are a couple evening games on the schedule too.

Duquesne Dukes at Towson Tigers, 2 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Towson -14, O/U 66)

Tom Flacco has made Towson one of the most fun teams in the nation this season, and the Tigers made the playoffs for the first time since 2013 with him at the helm. This has been one of the best offenses in the nation to see in action, and it shouldn’t have much of a problem moving the ball on Duquesne. The Dukes played in one of the weakest conferences in the nation, and they have not been good on defense this year.

Towson’s defense may give up some points though. The Tigers have given up at least 20 points to eight of their 11 opponents this season, so this could be the highest-scoring game of the day.

Elon Phoenix at Wofford Terriers, 2 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Elon -3.5, O/U 45.5

Wofford was initially a favorite in this game, but the line has since moved sharply against the Terriers. The Phoenix are now more than a field goal favorite, and this is one of the games where the strength of the CAA will be tested.

Elon has a very good front seven, and it should be able to stop Wofford’s triple option attack. However, Elon’s offense has not been the same without quarterback Davis Cheek, and I think the under is still the best bet on the board.

Stony Brook Seawolves at Southeast Missouri State Redhawks, 2 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Stony Brook -6.5, O/U 54.5

Whichever Joe Carbone shows up for Stony Brook will determine how this game goes. Carbone has been streaky as a passer this season, and he has seemingly regressed. He was pretty bad against Albany last week, and that nearly cost the Seawolves a playoff bid.

SEMO qualified for the postseason largely due to its 37-14 win over Jacksonville State, but that was a nightmare game for the Gamecocks. The Redhawks don’t have a very good defense, so I expect Stony Brook to keep it on the ground and pound out a win.

Delaware Blue Hens at James Madison Dukes, 3 p.m. ET (Betting Line: James Madison -15.5, O/U 46)

This line has fallen quite a bit since it was released. Originally, James Madison was more than a three touchdown favorite, but everyone has realized that initial spread was a bit much against a good Delaware team that plays very good defense.

Don’t expect either team to move the ball much in a low-scoring game that should challenge Elon-Wofford as the lowest-scoring game of the day.

Incarnate Word Cardinals at Montana State Bobcats, 3 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Montana State -8.5, O/U 60.5)

The Cardinals were incredibly fortunate to be selected for the last playoff spot, but now they must head north to Bozeman for a tough game in the cold weather against an underrated Montana State team.

Troy Andersen has been one of the most underrated players in the country this season. He isn’t a great passing threat, but he is a dynamic runner and he will be the best athlete on the field in this game. Andersen has already tallied 19 rushing touchdowns this year, and he should go off against Incarnate Word.

San Diego Toreros at Nicholls State Colonels, 4 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Nicholls State -15, O/U 62)

Chase Fourcade and Nicholls have been somewhat inconsistent this season, but the Colonels should be able to run the ball all day against this San Diego defense. The Toreros allowed an FCS-record 789 rushing yards against Davidson just two weeks ago, and the Colonels should be able to run against this front seven all day long.

Lamar Cardinals at Northern Iowa Panthers, 5 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Northern Iowa -27.5, O/U 52.5)

This game is likely to be ugly. The Southland Conference wasn’t that good this year, and there’s a reason Northern Iowa is the biggest favorite of the day despite going 6-5 this season. The Panthers played the toughest schedule in the FCS over the course of the year, and they have a great homefield advantage to boot.

East Tennessee State Buccaneers at Jacksonville State Gamecocks, 7 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Jacksonville State -17, O/U 52.5)

ETSU was one of the most fortunate teams in the country this year. The Buccaneers won a share of the Southern Conference championship despite finishing with a negative point differential in conference play as all of their six SoCon wins were by three points or less. Jacksonville State is rounding into form after a slow start to the year, and this game could get ugly after the Gamecocks nearly knocked off Kennesaw State last week.