With the NFL season reaching its conclusion this past Sunday and the NCAA Tournament still about a month away, the eyes of the Nation will now turn to the FCS Spring Football season (okay, maybe just mine). While some high profile FCS teams, like Montana and Montana State, have opted out it does appear like we are going to get a shortened FCS Spring season with a reduced 16-team playoff to crown a champion. We have one game to kick things off this weekend as McNeese State will play at Tarleton State on Saturday night in Texas.
McNeese State is coming off of an absolutely brutal off-season. Located in Louisiana, the team (and stadium) are still recovering from the damage done by Hurricane Laura this past August. With Covid-19 and the hurricane recovery this team went more than a full year without a padded practice. Many of the players had to relocate to hotels and some are still living in the hotels.
Amidst all the chaos more than 20 players have left the program since first year head coach Frank Wilson (UTSA) took the job. To top it all off, last week they lost their defensive coordinator to an FBS job at Houston, so now I would imagine they are scrambling to fill that void with an inexperienced head coach. This article from SI does a great job showing just how tough this off-season was for the team.
McNeese does have what appears to be a solid QB in Cody Orgeron (son of LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron) who threw for over 2,600 yards in 2019 with 24 TD and 9 INT.
This is Tarleton State’s first game as an FCS team as they are joining the WAC and moving up from DII. It looks like they have been a DII power coming off 11-1 and 12-1 seasons the last two years. They lost some great production at the QB, RB, and WR position (as well as their leading tackler), but they do have transfer QB Steven Duncan coming in from Western Kentucky where he started 8 games – most recently going 25-for-47 for 245 yards and 3 TD against Louisville in 2019. They are also adding a DII All-American WR in Tarik Bitson.
They put a lot of money into upgrading their facilities this off-season and you have to figure they will be pretty fired up to make their FCS debut at home in a stand-alone game this weekend.
The line currently sits as McNeese State -2 on Draft Kings with a total of 56. The game will be played with some fans in attendance (God bless Texas) and it looks like the weather may be a bit of a factor. The Saturday temperature looks like it will be around 16 degrees with 10 mph winds. That may be kind of chilly if you’re used to playing your whole career in the South in the Fall.
I lean Tarelton State right now. You have to wonder about the mental state of McNeese State after such a brutal off-season. Since they are on probation and not eligible for the Spring season, it’s fair to wonder if they might start to look toward the Fall season. While it’s possible they use this as something to rally behind like the Saints did post-Katrina, I think it’s far more likely that this goes the other way for them.
On the other hand, you have to figure that Tarleton State will be fired up for this one with it being their first FCS football game and with all the money they poured in to their facilities. I just don’t know how much talent difference there is between these two teams right now which is causing me to hesitate.
I’m not going to play anything right now, there is just too much uncertainty. But if the line jumps to +3 or we get an opportunity live (if live betting is offered), I may pull the trigger.