FCS First Round Preview – Samford at Kennesaw State

It’s been a wild ride for Kennesaw State.

The Owls just launched their football program three years ago and won their first conference championship this season. The Owls dominated every team they squared off against in the Big South and even scored a road win against Montana State. Their dominant performance against 9-2 Monmouth in the season finale not only gave them the Big South Championship, but it led to them getting a first-round home game from the selection committee.

Samford has looked very good at times this season. The Bulldogs went on the road and gave SoCon champion Wofford its lone FCS loss, beat this same Kennesaw State team in their home opener, and knocked off Furman in their season finale to assure themselves of a spot in the postseason. Unfortunately, an inexplicable home loss to Chattanooga the week after beating Wofford meant that Samford missed out on winning the conference title and that may have given the Bulldogs a first-round bye when you consider their resume.

FCS First Round Betting Odds
Samford PK
Kennesaw State PK
Total 48.5

Keep an Eye On…

Devlin Hodges was one of the best quarterbacks at the FCS level this season and made Samford the best passing attack in the conference by a wide margin. Although his numbers are down a little bit off of his totals from 2016, he has still been very impressive.

If you have any question whether or not Hodges is the real deal, look at his performance against Georgia. Yes, Samford got hammered in Athens, but Hodges played very well against a great defense. He went 26-of-35 passing for 227 yards with two touchdowns despite being pressured all game.

He saved his best for when it mattered most, too. Hodges threw for 516 yards and four touchdowns in a shootout loss on the road against Western Carolina, tallied 427 yards and three scores as a visitor in a win over a Top 10 Wofford team, and he was sharp against Mercer and Furman.

This will be the second time he has faced this Owls defense. Although Kennesaw State is holding opposing quarterbacks to just 181 yards per game through the air, much of that is the result of the teams they have faced. Hodges averaged 10 yards per attempt and threw for four touchdowns in the win.

Last Meeting

Don’t let the final score from the season opener fool you. Kennesaw State should have won this game. Samford couldn’t stop the Owls offense all game. The Owls racked up over 300 yards in the first half but a few miscues led to them only taking a 10-7 lead into the half. Although Kennesaw State ended up with 545 total yards compared to just 311 from Samford, those early miscues came back to bite them in a big way.

Kicker Justin Thompson missed two field goals in the loss, but he has been rock solid since. He has made 14 of his last 15 attempts and can be forgiven for missing considering the weather conditions against Samford.


Hodges has had to throw the ball all over the field to make sure Samford keeps winning games. The squad does not have a good defense and has had trouble with option offenses all year. The Owls weren’t the only option attack to tear up this defense. Wofford was able to run the ball for over 400 yards against Samford’s defense, but seven fumbles kept the Terriers from capitalizing on all that success.

Kennesaw State’s defense has really looked good over the last few weeks, but it hasn’t faced much in the way of offense. Liberty and Monmouth are the only other teams in the Big South with good offenses, and both schools were able to find the end zone a few times.

The over is the best bet to me in this one. Both offenses are going to be able to move the ball and I don’t see how either defense puts up much of a fight. The weather forecast is good for Kennesaw and that should lead to both offenses having a lot of success. For a side, I’d go with the Owls. They are playing at home and did outplay Samford last time, but Hodges is an elite quarterback and could will Samford to a win.

Pick: Over 48

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