The FCS season is rolling along as Week 8 is already here. James Madison is the undisputed top team in the country, earning all 23 votes for the No. 1 ranking. The competition is high, though, including two teams facing off this week as East Tennessee State travels to VMI. Let’s take a look at the NCAAF odds for this game.
East Tennessee State Buccaneers vs. VMI Keydets
Saturday, April 3, 2021 – 12:30 PM at Alumni Memorial Field
East Tennessee State
The 3-1 Buccaneers aren't ranked due to their 17-13 loss to Furman but have won their other battles by seven points in each contest. They boast a stingy defense that does an excellent job limiting opposing offenses to inefficient passing games. The Bucs have also forced four interceptions, making them one of the more dangerous secondaries in the country.
Their run defense has struggled more, but they're a new-age defense. They know the running game won't be why they lose as long as their own offense can do more than the bare minimum. Furman won their matchup as Devin Wynn gashed the defense for 113 yards on 15 carries, but that's been an anomaly thus far. Furman, ranked at No. 17, barely won, and the Bucs showed they belong right in their company.
The surprising part of their success is they're working with redshirt freshman Tyler Riddell at quarterback. The 5'11", 174-pounder has boosted the offense nicely as he gains critical experience every week. His efficiency numbers are better than half the league's more seasoned starters. He also brings a certain flair to the unit, and the energy across the board is impressive.
Riddell will be under the spotlight this week. Junior running back Quay Holmes has proven over the course of his career he's a workhorse back who will carry the offense as far as he can. But the power runner won't be the key piece against the 5-0 Keydets.
The 10th-ranked team in the country is looking to clinch a playoff berth this week with a win. It's been an amazing turnaround for a team that went winless last season. Head coach Scott Wachenheim has this team more disciplined and explosive than we've seen in years from the program.
Wachenheim and company have their work cut out for them, though. Standout quarterback Reece Udinski is out the rest of the season due to a knee injury he suffered two weeks ago. Redshirt freshman Seth Morgan will make his second straight start this week. Udinski will go on to Maryland as a graduate transfer for their 2021 season.
VMI has beaten some quality teams to reach this point, including Furman, by one point. Their running game is inconsistent each week; in one game they'll rush for over 100 yards, and in some others not even try to establish it. They'd been reliant on Udinski until his injury.
There's uncertainty for VMI as they've had explosive passing numbers, but have eeked out two wins by one point, and another one-score game. Morgan threw for 375 yards and rushed for 76 against Wofford last week in a dominant performance, but Wofford isn't a good team.
This game matches up well for East Tennessee State. Morgan may prove to be a perfect replacement for Udinski long-term, but it's easy and fair to be skeptical he'll dominate again in his second career start. VMI must clamp down on defense more than they have, or else the Bucs will eviscerate them.
We're likely looking at a high-scoring affair if Morgan is ready to repeat his output. VMI went from the favorite to the underdog with Udinski out, and we agree that's the right value. For our best bets, we'll take the road favorite in a close matchup that has a direct impact on the FCS playoff picture.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.