Best bets for the FCS opening weekend

The FCS college football season is upon us with 11 games kicking off on both Saturday and Sunday.

Powerhouses like North Dakota State and James Madison will begin their respective marches back to the FCS playoffs while upstarts like Southern Illinois, Samford and Wofford hope to make some noise and carve out a lane for themselves in this unique season.

With DraftKings Sportsbook lines out, let’s comb through some of the best bets for the weekend:

Morehead State at James Madison

Spread: James Madison -42
Point Total: 55.5
Moneyline: N/A

James Madison is a consistent FCS title contender and came up just short in a 28-20 loss to North Dakota State in the national championship game last January.

While the 2019 runner-ups are poised to be in the mix once again, they return just seven starters from that team. Meanwhile, there’s a level of continuity for Morehead State with quarterback Mark Pappas back under center.

While JMU should be able to handle their business at home, 42 points is a bit steep for a team hitting the field for the first time in over a year.

Best Bet: Morehead State +42

Austin Peay at Tennessee Tech

Spread: Austin Peay -6.5
Point Total: 65
Moneyline: Austin Peay -230, Tennessee Tech +175

Austin Peay will enter the 2021 slate not totally rusty as they were one of the rare FCS programs to actually get three games in this past fall. Receiver Baniko Harley averaged 72 receiving yards a game in those three fall outings, but the Governors’ top option is still senior wideout DeAngelo Wilson.

Tennessee Tech is a team coming off a 6-6 season in 2019 where they averaged 29 points a game. With the tandem of quarterback Bailey Fisher and receiver Metrius Fleming returning this spring, there’s a chance the season opener against an in-state foe like Austin Peay could get pointsy.

Best Bet: Over 65

Southern Illinois at North Dakota

Spread: Southern Illinois -3.5
Total Points: 48.5
Moneyline: Southern Illinois -162, North Dakota +132

Both of these programs are coming off respective 7-5 seasons in 2019, and will meet for the first time as conference foes with North Dakota joining the Missouri Valley in the offseason.

Having played one game in the fall, SIU brings a potentially dangerous attack to the Alerus Center that includes star running back Javon Williams Jr. However, ND hasn’t dropped a home opener since 1986, creating the potential for a tight ballgame that could go down to the wire.

Best Bet: North Dakota +3.5

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