Upcoming Match-ups

Week 2 FCS Spring Football Picks Against the Spread

Chris Amberley

by Chris Amberley in College Football

Updated Feb 18, 2021 · 7:22 PM PST

Matt Entz North Dakota State Bisons
North Dakota State head coach Matt Entz speaks with an official during the first half of the FCS championship NCAA college football game against James Madison, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)
  • Week 2 of the FCS Spring Football Season kicks off Friday, February 19th
  • Three-time defending champion North Dakota State headlines the action against Youngstown State
  • Read below for analysis on the Week 2  slate and our favorite ATS picks

It hasn’t even been a full two weeks since the Super Bowl champion was crowned, and football is already back in our lives. Week 2 of the FCS Spring Football campaign kicks off on Friday (Feb. 19th), and continues over the weekend with 10 more contests.

All four of the Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Southern and Southland conferences will see action over the next three days, with the rest of the FCS conferences that are participating joining the party over the next few weeks.

This weekend’s action is headlined by three-time defending champion North Dakota State, and we’ll start our betting card by taking the Bisons as heavy favorites over Youngstown State.

Pick #1: Bisons Beat Up Penguins

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Youngstown State Penguins +23.5 (-114) +980 Over 52.5 (-110)
North Dakota State Bisons -23.5 (-106) -2200 Under 52.5 (-110)

Odds taken Feb. 18th at FanDuel. 
This early in the season we want to rely on proven commodities, and there is no surer FCS bet than North Dakota State.

The Bisons have won eight of the last nine FCS championships, feature a league best eight preseason first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference players, and are currently riding a 38-game winning streak. No that is not a typo.

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This program gave the NFL Carson Wentz back in 2016, and are set to hand over another 1st round quarterback prospect in Trey Lance in a couple months. With Lance out of the picture, Zeb Noland will be under center, but I’d be careful about predicting to steep a drop-off.

Noland spent two seasons at Iowa State before transferring to the Bisons, throwing for over 1,200 yards and 6 TD in spot duty. NDSU is returning plenty of talent at the skill positions, and feature the top offensive line in the conference. That stability around Noland should have the Bisons challenging the 37+ points they averaged in 2019 once again this season, a number that Youngstown State simply won’t be able to match.

Despite returning starting quarterback Joe Craycraft, the Penguins are in full blown rebuild mode. Only six starters are back and the receiving corps features no one with more than five career receptions. That spells trouble against NDSU, who held opponents to 12.3 points per game in 2019 and destroyed Youngstown State in their only meeting.

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The Bisons build up a 42-7 first half lead before cruising to a 56-17 victory. They piled up 447 yards on offense and scored three separate touchdowns of at least 69 yards.

With one team in the championship conversation and the other rebuilding, we can expect a similar outcome on Sunday.

Pick: North Dakota State Bisons -23.5 (-106)

Pick #2: Salukis Clip Fighting Hawks

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Southern Illinois Salukis -2.5 (-128) -158 Over 48.5 (-105)
North Dakota Fighting Hawks +2.5 (+104) +128 Under 48.5 (-115)

Our next target is Southern Illinois who hit the road to face North Dakota. The Salukis have a big mismatch in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and will lean heavily on running back Javon Williams, one of the most versatile players in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Williams racked up over 1,000 rushing yards and 19 total TD in 2019, and ran for 135 yards and a score in the Salukis’ only action of the Fall. Southern Illinois averaged 234 yards per game on the ground last season, and North Dakota has a history of struggling versus the run.

Defensively, the Salukis bring a formidable pass rush led by Senior Anthony Knighton, while linebacker Makel Calhoun and Safety Qua Brown give them playmakers at all three levels.

The Fighting Hawks meanwhile, will make their Missouri Valley Conference debut, after playing as an independent in each of the past two seasons. The program checks in at number 7 out of 10 conference teams in the preseason rankings, and doesn’t boast a single player on the preseason all-conference team.

The defense is their strength, as that unit returns eight starters, but there are major questions on offense. Redshirt Freshman Tommy Schuster, who saw action in just three games in 2019, is the new starting quarterback, while nearly all of their most important skill position players from last season are gone.

It’s going to take a while for all the new faces on offense to gel, while the Salukis appear primed to start the Spring campaign off on a winning note.

Pick: Southern Illinois Salukis -2.5 (-128)

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