I was terrible prognosticating in both levels of college football last week, but at least I had some excuses for my performance at the FCS level.
Weber State went into cruise control against Sacramento State and allowed the Hornets to come all the way back to make it a game after jumping out to a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter. However, I was dead wrong about Central Connecticut State and Chattanooga.
2017 FCS ATS Record
Week 1 Picks: —
Week 2 Picks: 2-2 ATS
Week 3 Picks: 1-3 ATS
East Tennessee State +13.5 vs. Mercer – This line is a massive overreaction to the Bears game against Auburn this past Saturday. Mercer only lost by 14 on The Plains, so people are believing in this team as a potential playoff contender. However, the only reason the Bears were able to keep it that close was because of Auburn turnovers.
The Tigers were able to gash Mercer for over 500 yards of offense, but five turnovers meant that a lot of points were left on the board. Four of those five turnovers were fumbles, a stat which is very much luck-induced, and it is highly unlikely Mercer will force that many turnovers in any game the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, East Tennessee State took a lead into the fourth quarter against The Citadel last week, and the Bulldogs had to rally in order to pull out a victory. The Buccaneers have a reliable kicker that can hit from distance in J.J. Jerman, and that is huge in a game like this one.
Richmond -17.5 vs. Elon – Much like Mercer, people are high on Elon based on one performance that had little to do with anything the Phoenix did. Elon was able to keep the ball on the ground and pick up enough yardage to squeak by Charleston Southern in an upset last week, but Richmond is an entirely different type of team.
The Spiders shellacked Howard last week as Kyle Lauletta started to really grasp the intricacies of the new system. He threw for six touchdowns in the 68-21 win over the Bison and didn’t show any signs that the torn ACL he suffered last season was affecting him in any way.
Weber State -3 vs. Portland State – The UC Davis Aggies are humming with new coach Dan Hawkins running the show. The offense tore up Portland State, a team that nearly beat Oregon State and hung tough with BYU, and the defense made Jalani Eason look human again. The loss against San Diego State looks pretty good after the Aztecs knocked off Stanford last week, and there are a lot of peripheral reasons to like this team.
However, there’s still a reason why Weber State is favored here. The Wildcats are one of the most underrated teams in the FCS currently and my pick to win the Big Sky at season’s end. They have shown they can move the ball on any team, and the defense has played very well when it hasn’t had to try to stop the Cal Golden Bears. Plus, Stefan Cantwell can tear apart this defense.
Montana +11 vs. Eastern Washington – I have had this game circled as an upset special since the offseason, and my one regret is that the line isn’t as high as I was expecting because of how bad Eastern Washington looked in losses against Texas Tech and North Dakota State.
Montana has the best home-field advantage in FCS. The Grizzlies average 5,000 more fans than any other team, and the home crowd will be excited about this year’s team. Although the Grizzlies got hammered by Washington, they looked great against Valparaiso and Savannah State in non-conference play.
Bob Stitt’s offense continues to work, and Montana was one of the unluckier teams in the country last season. The squad should have made the postseason, but its inexplicable loss to Montana State to close out the year cost the Grizzlies that chance.
Now they are facing an Eastern Washington team that has to be exhausted. The Eagles have traveled to Texas Tech, flown back to Washington, and then flown out to face Fordham over the past three weeks. Expect them to be weary heading into this one. Factor in Eastern Washington’s shaky defense and iffy coaching staff and this is a prime upset opportunity.
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