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2018 FCS Playoffs: Second Round Preview

How will James Madison fare considering the rumors surrounding Mike Houston?

NCAA Football: DI Football Championship Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 FCS Playoffs enter the second round today. All of the national seeds will be in action after receiving first-round byes last week, and the top six seeds are all favored to win their match-ups. No. 7 Maine and No. 8 Colgate are underdogs to their opponents, and the Black Bears and Raiders will be out to topple teams that sportsbooks think are superior.

Montana State Bobcats at No. 1 North Dakota State Bison, 3 p.m. ET (Betting Line: NDSU -27.5, O/U 50)

The Bison were favored to win their seventh FCS title this decade at the start of the season, and their odds to win the FCS Championship have since been lowered to -300. North Dakota State is the heaviest favorite I can remember at this stage, and this team is likely to be a double-digit favorite the entire way through the playoffs.

Montana State doesn’t have much of a shot. The Bobcats don’t have the big boys up front to stop NDSU’s power run game, and the offense is one-dimensional in that everything runs through quarterback Troy Andersen. Andersen is a solid runner, but he isn’t much of a passer, and NDSU should have this one put away in the first half.

Southeast Missouri State Redhawks at No. 2 Weber State Wildcats, 4 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Weber State -10.5, O/U 46.5)

Last week, the Redhawks were able to pull off the upset against Stony Brook, but that was more a result of the Seawolves burying themselves than anything else. SEMO only had 240 total yards of offense and were down 14-0 before Stony Brook imploded. The Seawolves committed four turnovers, and the Redhawks capitalized on those chances to advance.

This Weber State team is one of the more disciplined teams in the country, and you won’t see the Wildcats making similar mistakes. The Wildcats will win, and the game should go under the total.

Nicholls State Colonels at No. 3 Eastern Washington Eagles, 5 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Eastern Washington -20.5, O/U 62)

For the first time this decade, Eastern Washington has looked very good on defense over the course of the season. Aaron Best has emphasized defense and the running game more than his predecessor, and the Eagles are no longer the pass-happy team that wants to win every game in a shootout.

That being said, this is too many points. Nicholls State is a sound team with a good dual-threat quarterback in Chase Fourcade, and the weather doesn’t look to be too much of an issue either. The Colonels won their first playoff game in 32 years last week, and they will keep this one close for a while.

Wofford Terriers at No. 4 Kennesaw State Owls, 2 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Kennesaw State -7, O/U 49)

I get why people have been skeptical about Kennesaw State. The Owls don’t play in a great conference, and they weren’t especially dominant in their three non-conference games against quality opponents. They lost to FBS Georgia State in a game they were favored in, needed multiple overtimes to beat Jacksonville State, and only beat Samford by 14.

This is a great match-up for the Owls though. Kennesaw State is solid up front, and Wofford is one-dimensional. I think the Owls will bottle up the triple option and pick up a convincing win.

Duquesne Dukes at No. 5 South Dakota State Jackrabbits, 3 p.m. ET (Betting Line: South Dakota State -22, O/U 60)

Duquesne pulled off the biggest upset of the first round when it knocked off Towson as a sizable underdog, but the weather was a leveling factor. Towson was a team that liked to throw it all over the place with Tom Flacco, but the Tigers couldn’t do that well in the cold, rainy weather.

This week, the Dukes will be facing a much tougher opponent when they take on South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits have a great dual-threat quarterback in Taryn Christion, and they should put up a lot of points against a questionable Duquesne defense.

Northern Iowa Panthers at No. 6 UC Davis Aggies, 7 p.m. ET (Betting Line: UC Davis -9, O/U 55.5)

UC Davis has been a great story, but this is my upset special of the week. Northern Iowa cut its teeth in the tough MVFC, and the Panthers qualified for the playoffs at 6-5 because they played the toughest schedule in the country. Eli Dunne won’t have a poor game like he did last week against Lamar, and I think the Panthers pull off the upset somewhat convincingly.

Jacksonville State Gamecocks at No. 7 Maine Black Bears, 12 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Jacksonville State -3.5, O/U 50.5)

This line has come down somewhat since the beginning of the week as Jacksonville State wasn’t too impressive against East Tennessee State last week. Maine has a good defense, but the Black Bears dodged a lot of the best teams in the Colonial this year, and I’m not a believer. It doesn’t look like the weather will be too bad, so I’m going to go with Jacksonville State to win and cover.

James Madison Dukes at No. 8 Colgate Raiders, 1 p.m. ET (Betting Line: James Madison -6.5, O/U 37.5)

The Mike Houston situation has somewhat overshadowed this game as James Madison’s coach looks to be on his way to East Carolina sometime in the near future. I liked the Dukes to win this one a lot before the news broke that Houston was leaving the program, but now there’s a question of just how prepared the Dukes will be. Colgate had the best defense in the FCS in the regular season, but the Raiders didn’t beat anyone of note and there’s a reason they are touchdown underdogs here.