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FCS Game of the Week Preview: No. 7 UC Davis at No. 3 Eastern Washington

The winner will be in the driver’s seat for a first round bye in the FCS playoffs starting at the end of the month

NCAA Football: UC - Davis at San Diego State Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: Saturday, November 10, 2018, 4:05 p.m. ET

Location: Roos Field, Cheney, Washington

How To Watch: Pluto TV

Betting Odds: UC Davis -3, Over/Under 68.5

Most of our writing team at Underdog Dynasty wasn’t even alive the last time the UC Davis Aggies made it to the postseason. The Aggies have only made it to the playoffs or a bowl game five times in their history, and their last appearance came in 1982 when they made it to the Division II National Championship only to lose to the now-Texas State Bobcats.

The Aggies are poised to make it to the FCS playoffs for the first time in their history, and they could win their first-ever Big Sky Conference title too. They are the only team left undefeated in conference play, and they will have just the Causeway Classic left against Sacramento State after their game against the Eastern Washington Eagles on Saturday afternoon.

Reasons to Like UC Davis

Keelan Doss has been one of the best receivers in the country this year. Doss could have probably been a late-round pick in the NFL Draft last season, but he decided to come back to Davis for one more year to try to improve his draft stock. That turned out to be a great decision for the Aggies. He hasn’t been as prolific as he has been in year’s past in a more balanced offense, but he is still likely to end the season with over 100 receptions and more than 1,000 yards again.

The Aggies have taken off this year because they have been able to mix in a lot of run plays in their high-speed offense, wearing out defenses in the process. They have averaged running more than 80 plays a game, so it’s no surprise they rank eighth in the country in total offense. That has also helped them lead the conference in scoring, surpassing other great offenses like Eastern Washington and Idaho State.

Reasons Not to Like UC Davis

The Aggies have not done very well on the defensive side of the ball this year. That comes with the territory somewhat when you decide to run at a fast tempo, but they have fared worse than other teams moving at a similar place. They are 83rd in the nation in total defense, yet they haven’t given up a ton of points because the defense is taking chances to force turnovers. UC Davis currently ranks 12th in the nation in turnover margin.

Reasons to Like Eastern Washington

Gage Gubrud has been declared lost for the season due to the after-effects of a toe injury, but the Eagles have remained one of the best offenses in the country. Eastern Washington has turned to its ground game to move the chains in his absence, and the Eagles have responded well. They are averaging 6.7 yards per carry, and that’s a testament to Aaron Best’s adaptability.

This defense has also improved for the second straight year under Best. Eastern Washington ranks in the top 50 in terms of total defense, and that’s much better than they have been in the past.

Reasons Not to Like Eastern Washington

Eric Barriere has done a good job filling in for Gubrud, but he is no Gubrud. Gubrud was one of the best quarterbacks at the FCS level, and he has been in charge of this offense for the past three years. He was familiar with all the reads and wasn’t afraid to go deep, while Barriere has been checking down underneath often. Barriere is averaging under seven yards per attempt, and that may lead to the Aggies daring him to throw deep.

The Eagles’ defense has been good statistically, but they have also not faced great offenses. Eastern Washington has dodged top offenses like Montana, Idaho State, and until now UC Davis in conference play, and Northern Arizona’s star quarterback Case Cookus was injured early on when those two teams met.

Prediction

Last year, Keelan Doss went off against the Eagles defense, catching 15 passes for 208 yards and a score in a wild 41-38 win. He and the rest of the Aggies offense will prove to be too much, and I see UC Davis winning this game by seven or more.

Final Score: UC Davis 45, Eastern Washington 34