Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere (3) throws against North Dakota State during the FCS championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in Frisco, Texas. North Dakota State won 38-24. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)
- The 2021 FCS Spring Football playoffs get underway on Saturday, April 24th
- Eastern Washington aims to play spoiler to powerhouse North Dakota State
- Read below for the FCS Spring Bracket and ATS picks for the first round
The 2021 FCS Spring Football playoffs are upon us. Round 1 kicks off on Saturday, April 24th and features numerous matchups with enticing betting value.
Eastern Washington will look to put an early end to North Dakota State’s quest for a fourth straight title, while North Dakota returns from a long layoff to host Missouri State. Elsewhere, VMI aims to continue its cinderella season against JMU. You can see the full 2021 FCS Spring Playoff bracket below.
THE BRACKET 😍🏆#FCSPlayoffs ➡️ https://t.co/0CXs30yPG4 pic.twitter.com/Ho5ZuMDRQx
— NCAA FCS Football (@NCAA_FCS) April 18, 2021
Here are three ATS picks to consider for Round 1 of the FCS playoffs on Saturday.
Eastern Washington vs North Dakota State Odds
|Eastern Washington||+7.5 (-122)||+225||O 56.5 (-110)|
|North Dakota State||-7.5 (+100)||-290||U 56.5 (-110)|
All odds as of April 20th at FanDuel
Barriere Stars Against Bison
Eastern Washington will aim to deny powerhouse North Dakota State a fourth straight FCS championship when the two teams clash in the first round of the playoffs Saturday. The Eagles went 5-1 in the Big Sky Conference this season, while the Bison went 6-2 in the Missouri Valley conference.
EWU has the offense to give NDSU all kinds of problems in this game. The Eagles rank first in the entire country in total offense, thanks in large part to the play of senior QB Eric Barriere. The dual-threat pivot has thrown for 2,192 yards and 18 touchdowns with just six interceptions this season.
Eric Barriere drops a dime and connects with Talolo Limu-Jones for 66 yards to the house!#GoEags #ProtectTheRed pic.twitter.com/sXNxWODIJW
— EWU Football (@EWUFootball) April 10, 2021
The Bison haven’t had that elite level of play at the QB position, as starter Zeb Noland has underwhelmed with only five touchdowns passes and six picks. Freshman Cam Miller saw most of the snaps in NDSU’s most recent game against South Dakota State, but the youngster has never started a playoff game.
EWU has a good chance of winning this outright, which gives them value with the points. The Bison just gave up over 300 rushing yards to the Jackrabbits and have struggled to shutdown mobile quarterbacks. Barriere has been in this spot before and will be the difference against an NDSU team relying on a freshman under center.
- Pick: Eastern Washington +7.5 (-122)
Missouri State vs North Dakota Odds
|Missouri State||+8.5 (-114)||+285||O 44.5 (-106)|
|North Dakota||-8.5 (-106)||-375||U 44.5 (-114)|
Hawks Run Over Bears
Missouri State will be playing in the FCS playoffs for the first time since 1990 when they travel to Grand Forks to face the Fighting Hawks on Saturday. Both teams are members of the MVC, with UND posting a 4-1 record in the regular season and Missouri State going 5-4.
North Dakota likely isn’t getting as many points as they should in this matchup because they haven’t taken the field since a 34-13 loss to North Dakota State on March 20th. Long layoffs haven’t been much of an issue in this unique season, as evidenced by SDSU returning from a four-week absence to upset the Bison last weekend.
🔜#UNDproud | #LGH pic.twitter.com/iOOqgH2TET
— North Dakota Football (@UNDfootball) April 9, 2021
The Fighting Hawks have the run game to dominante the time of possession and control the clock. They rank 14th in the country in rushing offense and will be facing a mediocre Bears’ rushing defense that got exploited by NDSU earlier this year. Expect UND standout sophomore RB Otis Weah to follow suit and help the Hawks take stranglehold of the game.
UND’s rush attack is the reason they’ll win Saturday, but their stout defense is the reason to bet them to cover. The Fighting Hawks are allowing just 131 rushing yards per game and will force turnover-prone QB Jaden Johnson to make plays with his arm. UND has already forced 12 turnovers this year, and they’ll come up with a few big ones on home turf Saturday.
- Pick: North Dakota -8.5 (-106)
VMI vs James Madison Odds
|VMI||+14.5 (-108)||+570||O 46.5 (-110)|
|James Madison||-14.5 (-112)||-900||U 46.5 (-110)|
Keydets Give Dukes a Game
VMI will look to continue its historic season when the team travels to Harrisonburg to take on JMU in the first round of the playoffs Saturday. The Keydets posted a 6-1 record to win their first Southern Conference title since 1977, while the Dukes went a perfect 5-0 in the CAA.
VMI has the weapons on both sides of the ball to keep this game within two touchdowns. The Keydets rank ninth in the nation in passing offense thanks to the excellent play of freshman QB Seth Morgan. The defense, meanwhile, is among the best in the country at getting to opposing quarterbacks, averaging 3.43 sacks per game.
Big S/O to @_sethmorgan_ on being recognized as a finalist for FCS Freshman player of the year.#10TD👣 https://t.co/NljTU5TLpG
— VMI Football (@VMI_Football) April 19, 2021
JMU hasn’t played a team with a passing attack like VMI’s yet, which means Scott Wachenheim’s team could catch the Dukes by surprise. Morgan is completing 76% of his passes and has thrown for over 1,000 yards with just once pick. His top target is the 6’4″ WR Jakob Herres, who is a matchup nightmare for any secondary.
James Madison has the weapons on offense to win this game, but the Keydets relentless pass rush is going to give QB Cole Johnson his toughest game of the season. Bet on VMI’s passing attack to keep pace with JMU and for the Keydets’ defense to clamp down and make this a tight and gruelling affair.
Brady is a passionate hockey fan and sports writer with over five years of experience specializing in digital media, plus a degree in Broadcast Journalism. His work has been published by outlets such as ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and Fox Sports.