Powerhouse Bison Among Favorites To Back In FCS Quarterfinals

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, December 4, 2018 2:01 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 2:01 PM UTC

There’s nothing better than the FCS Playoffs with wintry weather, colorful fields and little powerhouses such as defending champ North Dakota State. Let's analyze the matchups for your NCAAF picks.

No. 7 Maine (9-3) at No. 2 Weber State (10-2)Friday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)Free NCAAF Pick: Weber State ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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This one seems like it could be close until you realize the Black Bears play in the Colonial Athletic Conference while Weber State cuts its teeth on the tougher Big Sky, once FCS material, but now home to three nasty schools all still alive with eight teams to go. QB Chris Ferguson and Maine will be traveling 2,594 miles and two time zones (ET to MT) and the Black Bears played 11 games in the ET and one in the CT (WKU), so the site and the Ogden altitude (4,300 feet) might be a problem for visiting Maine over the 60 minutes. Maine is on a five-game winning streak, while Weber State has won seven in a row.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Weber State 27, Maine 17

No. 8 Colgate (10-1) at No. 1 North Dakota State (12-0)Saturday, noon ET (ESPN)Free NCAAF Picks: N.D. State ATS & OverBest Lines Offered: BetOnline

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The Bison roll everyone and play for the FCS postseason and actually save energy late after getting up early. They’re that good. But then again, when you’re playing at home in the friendly confines of Gate City Bank Field and the Fargodome, opponents have little chance. Of all FBS and FCS teams playing since 1894, only CFP participant Oklahoma has a better winning percentage than North Dakota State, which gave up Carson Wentz (Eagles) and has won a mind-blowing six of the last seven NCAA Division I FCS championships. And don’t sleep on this nasty defense. Bet this one early before it goes up if you have access offshore. In Las Vegas, this game won’t hit the betting boards until Friday, meaning probably getting the worst of it for many and making offshores a necessary tool for the serious bettor.

Colgate (324 PF/77 PA) has allowed only 77 points, but the Raiders play in the Patriot League, while NDS has won 14 national championships and William V. Campbell Trophy finalist QB Easton Stick has led the Bison (23-2 SU on national TV) to a record-setting pace of 42.1 points per game, and three NDS running backs were over 100 yards in last week’s 35-14 win over Montana State. NDS has outscored its opponents 505-144 this season. In this first-ever meeting between the two, Lance Dunn and the Bison could go "over" the posted total themselves, always a nice handicapping thought heading in, offering approaches on the side and the total.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: North Dakota State 44, Colgate 10

No. 5 South Dakota State (9-2) at No. 4 Kennesaw State (11-1)Saturday, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN3)Free NCAAF Pick: Kennesaw State ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Big South champion Kennesaw State has the better record and the site advantage, but the line reveals how good the Missouri Valley Conference is with the Jackrabbits having to play the best team in FCS annually; they lost to North Dakota State 21-17 on Sept. 29. That fresh experience along with past FCS postseason experience and expectations should fuel SDS to the win here — and another meeting at NDS a week later — although the game might be closer than the point spread. The Owls (548 PF/173 PA) will be glad to be hosting a quarterfinal game while the Jackrabbits will expect to find a way to win and advance to the semifinals (Dec 14-15).

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: South Dakota State 27, Kennesaw State 24

No. 6 UC Davis (10-2) at No. 3 Eastern Washington (10-2)Saturday, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN3)Free NCAAF Pick: Eastern Washington ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Boise State has the blue turf and Eastern Washington has the red turf, and it’s hard to tell which one is uglier on my HDTV after decades of watching these hidden Pacific Northwest gridiron freaks. Who paints a field blue or red? My (whining old man) point is it’s nearly impossible to see the players, but maybe that’s the point. Like camouflage the opponent to death or something. Football fields should always be green. Anyway, this Big Sky clash is a rematch of a regular-season game won by the Eagles, 59-20, after they trailed the Aggies 10-7 at the end of the first quarter. EW running backs Antoine Custer, Sam McPherson and Tamarick Pierce each had two TD runs in the rout and this one should be a rout, but not quite as ugly as the previous Red Turf Wedding on Nov. 10.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Eastern Washington 47, UC Davis 29

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