Our college football handicapper is following the FCS playoffs, and after a set of winning picks for the quarterfinals gives us his picks for the two semifinal games this weekend.
My picks for the FCS quarterfinals went well, as I predicted that all four games would go 'under' the listed total. It took an overtime game for me to be wrong on just one of them. This Friday and Saturday we have the semifinal games, with the championship game Jan. 7. These games are played at the site of the highest seed. Here are my picks for wagering on the FCS semifinals, with all odds currently available at 5Dimes, Season picks record: 38-33-2, +1.60 Units
This game pits the champion of the Colonial Conference, 12-1 James Madison, vs. the Missouri Valley co-champion, 12-1 North Dakota State. Top-seeded NDSU enters after avenging its only loss of the season, destroying South Dakota State 36-10 in the quarterfinals. No. 4 James Madison put up 65 points in a win against Sam Houston State, but gave up just seven points in a matchup that had a total listed at 88 at kickoff.
James Madison had an impressive performance running the ball in that quarterfinal game, with two players rushing over 140 yards. QB Bryan Schor didn't have to do much extra, but was still a very efficient 13 for 17 for 251 yards. The Dukes will have a tougher test this week, as they face a North Dakota State defense that allows just 15.6 points per game and 99.6 rushing yards per game.
The college football line on this game has opened with the four-time defending national champion Bison as 7.5-point home favorites, with the O/U line at 60.5 points. With James Madison scoring 50 or more in its last three games I can't fade the Dukes here, especially with perfect conditions in the Fargodome. I like taking the 7.5 points with James Madison, and expect a classic that can be seen Friday night on ESPN2.
NCAAF Free Pick: James Madison +7.5
Youngstown State At Eastern Washington
In a game that can be seen Saturday evening on ESPNU, the second-seeded 12-1 Eastern Washington University Eagles host the unseeded 11-3 Youngstown State Penguins in Cheney, Wash. Youngstown State beat Wofford 30-23 in overtime to punch its ticket to the semis, while Eastern Washington blanked Richmond 38-0 on the Eagles' home field last weekend.
The story in this game will be the weather as the snow will be done in Cheney but the cold will remain. The high temperature on Saturday is supposed to get up to just 7 and could dip below zero by the end of the game. Luckily, there is little wind in the forecast. This should only help Eastern Washington's defense, which has played very strong at home its their last 4 games and has not given up more than 17 points in any of them.
It pains me to have to pick against a team called the Penguins when the weather is potentially below zero, but Youngstown State's run in the playoffs is set to end here. There are also rumors that five players from their team will be suspended for this game. Eastern Washington and its defense is on a mission, so I am taking EWU on my college football picks.
NCAAF Free Picks: EWU -8.5, 'Under' 55