The FCS Playoffs Selection Committee can pat themselves on the back when it comes to their seeding decisions. All eight of the nationally seeded teams won their Second Round games, despite two being underdogs per the FCS betting odds. Three of the four lower seeds are favorites to advance this week, with only No. 5 South Dakota State favored on the road.
No. 7 Maine Black Bears at No. 2 Weber State Wildcats, (Friday) 8 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Weber State -6.5, O/U 46)
Weber State played on Friday night in the Quarterfinals last year and nearly knocked off No. 2 James Madison in Harrisonburg. The Wildcats were double-digit underdogs in that game, but a strong performance from Stefan Cantwell nearly led to them pulling off the upset.
Cantwell is gone and the offense hasn’t been as good without him, but the defense has made Weber State one of the best teams in the nation. Despite playing in a conference filled with fantastic offenses, the Wildcats finished the year ranked in the top 20 in total defense, and they have forced 29 turnovers in 12 games.
Maine has a very good defense of its own, but the offense had a field day in a 55-27 pasting of Jacksonville State last week. The Gamecocks couldn’t stop making mistakes early on, turning the ball over inside their own 15 yard line three times in the first 20 minutes of the game, and it was all she wrote from there.
Both of these teams like to run the ball and lean on their defense, and they are pretty risk-averse on offense. That should lead to a close, low-scoring game and I think Weber State will pull out the win.
Prediction: Weber State 23, Maine 20
No. 8 Colgate Raiders at No. 1 North Dakota State Bison, 12 p.m. ET (Betting Line: NDSU -25.5, O/U 42.5)
Colgate has the No. 1 defense in the nation in terms of total defense, and the Raiders are the only team in the country to allow single-digit touchdowns. However, those numbers were greatly aided by playing in the Patriot League, a league that lost a lot of its top offensive talent from last year.
The Raiders were somewhat fortunate against James Madison last week, as Pitt transfer Ben DiNucci had the worst game of his career. He threw five picks and Colgate needed all of those to hold on for a 23-20 win.
They don’t have much of a shot at pulling off the upset against a North Dakota State team that is a -300 favorite to win the national championship, but at least Ty and Dan from the Solid Verbal are going to express their Pat League love in Fargo.
Prediction: North Dakota State 38, Colgate 7
No. 5 South Dakota State Jackrabbits at No. 4 Kennesaw State Owls, 2 p.m. ET (Betting Line: SDSU -7, O/U 56.5)
Kennesaw State has continually underwhelmed against quality opponents all year. The Owls have blown out bad teams with ease all year long, but when they have faced other solid teams like Jacksonville State or Wofford they have struggled.
The Jackrabbits will be the best team that the Owls have faced all year, and yeah I know they played Georgia State earlier. South Dakota State dropped 90 points on Arkansas-Pine Bluff earlier this year and the Jackrabbits hammered Duquesne 51-6 last week. Taryn Christion is the best quarterback in the country, and I think he’ll lead the visitors to a win here.
Prediction: South Dakota State 35, Kennesaw State 24
No. 6 UC Davis Aggies at No. 3 Eastern Washington Eagles, 4 p.m. ET (Betting Line: Eastern Washington -8.5, O/U 71)
This is a rematch of a game from four weeks ago. UC Davis was a slight favorite when these teams met in Cheney, but Eastern Washington scored 59 of the last 69 points to rout the Aggies. Jake Maier wasn’t able to do much through the air, and it ended up coming back to bite them in the end.
The Eagles are much better on defense than they have been in prior years, but the run defense has had some trouble in recent weeks. They allowed some big runs to UC Davis earlier in the year, and Nicholls State was able to have a lot of success on the ground last week. Look for the Aggies to be more run-oriented this time.
Prediction: Eastern Washington 34, UC Davis 28