FCS Playoffs Semifinals: Official Plays

Rather than creating a new post for each bet, I am just going to pin this post for the week and go in and add information and plays as they come in. As always, follow me on twitter @MikeyLoBets to be notified as soon as I make any official plays.

Last Week Recap

Last Week: 2-1, +0.05 Units
YTD: 9-5 (64.2%), +5.99 Units

Last Week

All things considered, I feel pretty fortunate to get out of this week without a loss in profit margin. Hand up, I was very wrong on my NDSU -2.5. Sam Houston, particularly their defense, really proved me wrong and showed me something on Saturday. I was somewhat lucky to get 1 unit back on the live +7.5 wager as we caught some big breaks on special teams. I won’t doubt Sam like that again (#SpoilerAlert)

I then got 2 more units back betting South Dakota State live when they fell behind 2 scores in the first half. I knew the South Dakota State offense would get going against the leaky SIU defense and was banking on the SDSU defense making enough half-time adjustments to slow down the SIU passing attack. I also wondered if SIU would wear down a little bit with it being another road game. It wasn’t easy, but we got there.

Spring FCS Playoffs: Semifinals

James Madison @ Sam Houston (+1.5) (Bookmaker)

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As you can see in the official plays at the bottom of this write-up, I like this play at +1.5 but am also playing it as the second leg of a teaser at +8.5. I really like the value of crossing the key numbers of +3, +4, +7, and +8 in this teaser.

Sam Houston really impressed me last weekend. I knew they had a great run defense on paper, but I thought a lot of that was the result of playing in the Southland Conference. But that run defense, particularly the defense line, was huge against a great North Dakota State rushing attack limiting the Bison to only 3.2 yards/carry in a 24-20 win. That score is actually misleading as the Bison got 2 TDs and a safety on special teams. All the offense was able to muster up against the Sam Houston defense was a FG and a 2-point conversion. I’m banking on Sam Houston fixing up their special teams play this week which will make points a lot harder to come by for James Madison than they were for North Dakota State.

This is a short week for both teams, as they both played on Sunday and now have to turn around and play again on Saturday. I think this is a bigger deal for the team that has to travel (James Madison) and is even a slightly bigger factor in this covid-era. After playing on Sunday night, James Madison has to turn around and travel on Thursday and then deal with the covid protocols on Friday before a Saturday game. On the flip side, Sam Houston (who played an earlier game on Saturday) gets to stay home for their 3rd consecutive playoff home game. The temps will be in the 80’s with 50% fan capacity.

Sam Houston has really proven themselves to have a home field advantage in the postseason as evidenced by their 15-0 record at home in the playoffs. To go a step further, their head coach KC Keeler, also has never lost as a DI head coach at home in the playoffs going 8-0 at Delaware and now 8-0 at Sam Houston. I think those trends hold a little more value than usual with this being a short week to prepare.

Both teams will look to establish the run in this game, but both teams have great rush defenses (#3 and #4 in the Nation). I had previously thought that was a product of Sam Houston playing in the pass-heavy Southland conference but they have proved me wrong in the postseason holding Monmouth to 2.2 yards/carry and North Dakota State to 3.2 yards/carry. James Madison’s rush defense has actually gotten a little more leaky in the postseason giving up 5.1 yards/carry to VMI and 4.7 yards/carry to North Dakota.

When the offenses have to go to the air, I give a slight edge to Sam Houston’s QB Eric Schmid over James Madison’s QB Cole Johnson. Johnson has looked better the last two weeks, but still has been unspectacular this season with a 1:1 TD:INT ratio. This will be the toughest defense he has played probably all season and certainly in the post season (as he goes on the road for the first time this postseason). Schmid has been solid all year and made the plays when he had to against NDSU both through the air and on the ground (25-for-37, 236 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT & 10-36, 3.6 1 TD on the ground). I give the advantage here to Sam Houston.

I think this will be a tough, tight game throughout, but Sam Houston looked for real to me last week. With that Sam Houston run defense and their home field advantage on a short week I think they pull out a close one. Give me the Bearkats.

Delaware (+14.5) @ South Dakota State

I didn’t quite have enough confidence to play the +7.5, but I do like the +14.5 for the other teaser leg. I really like the idea of getting more than 2 TD’s with a great defense in a game with a total of 37.

I think Delaware will be the best defense South Dakota State has seen all year. They’ve been money all year, particularly in the playoffs holding Sacred Heart to 10 points on 236 yards, and national seeded Jacksonville State to 14 points on 200 yards. Now they go up against a freshmen QB in Mark Gronkowski. Gronkowski has been really good this year, but he is still a freshmen and I’m not sure he’s seen a defense quite like this yet. The Jackrabbits offense struggled in the first half last week against a very bad SIU defense. If they start slow again this week it could be a lot harder to flip the switch against this defense.

In big games like this, I like having the more experienced QB and that’s what Delaware has in Nolan Henderson. He got a cup of coffee in 2018 and got a good amount of snaps in 2019 throwing 126 passes. He has been the guy for them all year this season and has put up good numbers (99-for-142, 1101 yards, 10 TD and 3 INT). South Dakota State has a very good run defense, but the pass defense struggled last week against SIU giving up 27 completions on 38 attempts for 316 yards. That also doesn’t account for a couple big defensive pass interference penalties that they had. I could see Delaware having some success through the air to keep this game close.

I don’t think either team will pull away in this one, so I like getting +14.5 with the Blue Hens against the Jackrabbits (man they have such sweet nicknames in the FCS, don’t they?).

Official Plays – FCS Playoffs Semifinals

2 Team 7-Point Teaser (-120) (Bookmaker)
Delaware (+14.5) @ South Dakota State
James Madison @ Sam Houston (+8.5)
Risking 1.80 Units to win 1.50 Units

James Madison @ Sam Houston (+1.5) (-109) (Bookmaker)
Risking 2.18 Units to win 2.00 Units

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