FCS Playoffs Best Bets – Quarterfinals

FCS Playoffs Free Picks

The 2021 NCAA Football Championship (FCS) move on to the quarterfinals this week, with the remaining eight to determine the final four of football. We have plenty of intruiging matchups on the docket, with one game between FCS heavyweights scheduled for Friday, Dec. 10, with the remaining three games set for Saturday, Dec. 11. We'll focus on the trio of game for Saturday.

VegasInsider betting expert Dan Dobish provides his Score Predictions, Tips and Betting Analysis for a handful of FCS playoff game matchups.

FCS Playoffs Best Bets

  • Villanova -13.5 (-110)
  • Montana-EWU Over 59.5 (-110)
  • Sam Houston State -13.5 (-110)
Odds per BetMGM - Subject to Change

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FCS Playoffs Betting Analysis

East Tennessee State at North Dakota State

  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 11
  • Network-Time: ESPN, 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome
  • Location: Fargo, N.D.

Score Prediction: North Dakota State 41, East Tennessee State 23

Best Bet: East Tennessee State +25.5 (-110)

The Buccaneers eased by Kennesaw State last weekend by a 32-31 score, erasing a 31-17 deficit. It was a thriller, too, as they needed an onside kick, touchdown and two-point conversion to win their first FCS playoff game in 25 years. ETSU (11-1) experienced its only setback of the season at Chattanooga on Oct. 16 by a 21-16 score. The Bucs have won five in a row since then, and they can more than hold their own on offense, but defense can be an issue. ETSU has coughed up at least 31 points in each of the past three games, and 20 or more points on seven of the past nine occasions.

The Bison of North Dakota State (11-1) have been there, done that. They have won three in a row since, and really bring it on the offensive side of the ball. This NDSU team is averaging 35.3 PPG, while piling up 431.9 total yards per game. North Dakota State will find it challenging running against a solid ETSU defense, but if anybody can do it, it's the Bison. They are rolling up 271.8 yards per game on the ground, and that will be the key to victory here. But 25.5 points? That's a bit much for an East Tennessee State team with an explosive offense capable of hanging with most anyone. I also love the OVER 48.5 (-110), and that makes for a great parlay with the Bucs.

ETSU won its first FCS game in 25 years last week, bumping off Kennesaw State.

South Dakota State at Villanova

  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 11
  • Network-Time: ESPN+, 2:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Villanova Stadium
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pa.

Score Prediction: South Dakota State 26, Villanova 17

Best Bet: South Dakota State -7 (-110)

South Dakota State (10-3) pulls into Philly looking to keep things hopping. They're the Jackrabbits. See what I did there? I promise, I don't do it again. The Jackrabbits snuck by Sacramento State last week by a 24-19 count in their place, so they won't be intimidated about going to Philadelphia. However, that's an awful lot of travel, going to California, then back to the Dakotas, then cross-country the other way to Pennsylvania. Is it going to be the deciding factor here? Villanova has been warm and cozy at home all week, well rested after dispatching Holy Cross last weekend.

The Wildcats will have the fresher legs and will look like the team which played at home last week, although 'Nova wasn't terribly impressive. The Jackrabbits will have heavy legs, and might even fall behind early in this one before getting a burst of adrenaline late in the first half. QB Daniel Smith has struggled a little bit lately for the Wildcats, and he has actually completed less than half of his pass attempts across the past three games, including just an 8-of-22 performance for 133 yards last week vs. HC.

A lot of eyebrows might be raised seeing a quarterfinals host catching a touchdown, but that is why. Smith's struggles, coupled with the dynamic one-two punch of RBs Isaiah Davis and Pierre Strong Jr. Davis gobbled up 108 yards and two touchdowns at Sac State, while Strong had 73 yards and a score. That's the bread and butter for SDSU, and what is going to carry them through to the Semis despite the grueling travel.

Isaiah Davis and the Jackrabbits look to run past Villanova on Saturday.

Montana State at Sam Houston

  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 11
  • Network-Time: ESPN+, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Bowers Stadium
  • Location: Huntsville, Texas

Score Prediction: Sam Houston State 24, Montana State 19

Best Bet: UNDER 48.5 (-110)

Sam Houston rolled up a 49-42 victory over Incarnate Word in a thriller last week in Huntsville. The Bearkats, who now have 21 victories in less than 10 months, continue their iron man schedule. They'll back at it trying to solve one of the better defensive units in the FCS.

The Bobcats have struggled mightily on offense after a quick start, posting just 23.0 PPG across the past six games. But the old saying is that defense wins championships, and Montana State has rode its D to this point. MSU is allowing just 10.0 PPG across the past three outings, and 10.8 PPG across 12 contests overall this season. If they are to dispatch the No. 1 seed in their place, the defense is going to have to continue its amazing play. Even then, it might not help. They need the offense to step up, and they just have not been hitting on all cylinders.

It's been a crazy run for the Bearkats, playing the spring schedule due to COVID, coupled with the quick turnaround. But they haven't shown any signs of falling apart. Yet. But they are going to get a very stern test here, slipping by just barely.

Odds per BetMGM - Subject to Change