Big Sky Bets



We had a solid start to the 2019 season with a 6-4 record. Not bad for an FCS slate that proved to have many unanswered questions. Overall, the Big Sky conference had a strong showing last weekend.

Northern Arizona started off strong under first-year coach Chris Ball and covered at home against Missouri State.

Northern Colorado had many opportunities to cover last week at San Jose State but a turnover on downs on the 4-yard line shot our hopes of cashing in.

Washington proved that Jacob Eason was every bit of a quarterback the nation thought he was, and dismantled Eastern Washington at home.

Montana had a huge statement win on the road and cashed in as my best investment of the week, beating South Dakota 31-17 and covering.

Idaho looked about as bad as they could have, giving up 79 points against Penn State. But luckily, they won more than us and cashed in on a $1.5 million payday.

Montana State was overmatched against a strong Texas Tech team and didn’t cover. Fortunately for us, Texas Tech was our lock of the week -25.

Portland State scared Arkansas at home and ended up keeping it very close in Fayetteville.

Cal Poly showed the new personnel on offense was nothing to worry about as the Mustangs won big at home against San Diego.

UC Davis kept it close on the road against Cal, but they were unable to cover on the road. Weber State had a defensive shootout of the ages, and lost an LSU-Alabama style battle 6-0. I lost the ranch last week, as my lock of the week was under 36.5 and they missed it by 30 points.

Sacramento State started the Troy Taylor era strong against Southern Oregon and covered at home. Southern Utah couldn’t keep it close in Vegas, and UNLV covered easily. 6-4 was a good start last week, but there are a lot of questions this week. I hope to break even with the picks this week.

A quick explanation of how odds and picks work: The “Best Investment” of the week is based on value of the pick. Last week the Griz were +145, meaning if you bet $100, you would win $145.

As far as spreads go, if a team is -20 points, they are favored to win by 20 points. If a team is +20, they are a 20-point underdog. The over/under (total) is based off of total points. The over/under last week for Weber State-San Diego State was 36.5 points. This means that the oddsmakers believe the total score would be 36-37 points. Vegas tries to get the amount of money gambled on games 50/50 so the house always wins.

For example, Northern Colorado opened as a 10.5 underdog. By the time the game started the line was 18. This means that a lot of money came in on San Jose State, pushing the line higher.

If you have any questions about the line movements, feel free to tweet @MontanaGambler and I should be able to fill you in. Since the FCS is not a popular betting forum, some line movements are hard to track, but I try my best to represent the most updated odds.

Week 1 Record: 6-4

Week 2

Lock of the Week: Washington State -36.5 (Season: 1-0)

Best Investment: SE Missouri State +230

Over/Under Lock of the Week: Weber State/Cal Poly Under 52.5 (Season: 0-1)

Thursday September 5

Idaho State head coach Rob Phenicie in 2017/ by Brooks Nuanez

Western Colorado at Idaho State (-37.5)                 O/U 60                      6:35 PM

The Idaho State Bengals open up their season against a Division II football program that has won three games in the past 2 seasons. The Bengals return 4 of 5 starting offensive linemen as well as 7 defenders and will need to look sharp to start the season. The next 2 weeks (@ Utah and @ Northern Iowa) will be tough away from home. I like Idaho State to start off hot at Holt Arena.

Pick: Idaho State -37.5

Friday September 6

Sacramento State at Arizona State (-36)                   O/U 63.5                   8:00 PM

Sacramento State broke a single-game scoring record last week vs. Southern Oregon. But that is an NAIA school. I think Troy Taylor has Sacramento State headed in the right direction. I think Herm Edwards will have his team ready and 36 points is a huge spread. As of Thursday morning, 60p percent of the money has been placed on Sacramento State. I’m going to fade the public here and take Arizona State -36.

Pick: Arizona State -36

Saturday September 7

Eastern Washington head coach Aaron Best/ by Brooks Nuanez

Lindenwood at Eastern Washington (-43.5)                       O/U 67.5                   2:05 PM

Eastern Washington had a rough start to the season at Washington. They have a Division II opponent in Lindenwood. This is Lindenwood’s first game. Eastern has all the potential on offense and will be looking to recoup after last week’s lack of production. I like Eastern to cover on the inferno.

Pick: Eastern Washington -43.5

Northern Colorado quarterback Jacob Knipp

Northern Colorado at Washington State (-36.5)   O/U 63                      3:00 PM

Northern Colorado opened as a 38.5-point underdog. As of Thursday, the line has moved to 36.5. Northern Colorado had a competitive outing against San Jose State last week, but the Mike Leach Air Raid offense is no joke. I don’t think the defense can hang with the Cougs here. San Jose State threw for 224 yards last week against UNC. Cougs will do much better than that. I like the Cougs to cover on the Palouse. This is my Lock of the Week.

Pick: Washington State -36.5

Southern Utah at Northern Iowa (-24)                      O/U 55                      3:00 PM

Northern Iowa put up 26 points on the road and lost to a dark horse Big 12 favorite in Iowa State on the road last week. The Panthers had every opportunity to win that game. Southern Utah got smoked against a mediocre UNLV team last week. This line should be a lot higher, and if it were in the public spotlight, I believe the spread would be around 32. I like Northern Iowa to come home and win big at the UNI Dome.

Pick: Northern Iowa -24

UC Davis head coach Dan Hawkins/ by UC Davis athletics

UC Davis at San Diego (+17)                                          O/U 69.5                   3:00 PM

UC Davis had a great outing last week against a really tough Cal defense last week. San Diego gave up 52 points to a Cal Poly team that had to replace a lot of personnel on offense. UC Davis will find their offensive identity this week. San Diego will face a tougher defense than last week. I like UC Davis to win big in San Diego.

Pick: UC Davis -17

Simon Fraser @ Portland State (-43.5)                       O/U 62                      3:05 PM

Portland State had a great outing against SEC opponent Arkansas last week. Simon Fraser is a program from Canada. There isn’t a lot of information to go off of here. But recency bias is the only thing I can go off of. I’m going to take Portland State -43.5. Good luck finding a book that has this game available though.

Pick: Portland State (-43.5)

Montana State running back Isaiah Ifanse (22)/by Brooks Nuanez

SE Missouri State at Montana State (-7.5)               O/U 62.5                   6:00 PM

Montana State opened up as a 6.5 favorite against SE Missouri State. The Redhawks had a statement win at home last week against a rebounding Southern Illinois program. Montana State played a tough game in Lubbock, Texas and the talent of Texas Tech proved to be too much.

As of Thursday, the Bobcats are a 7.5 favorite at home against the Redhawks. This top 20 matchup between SE Missouri State (No. 12) and Montana State (No. 14) will be a huge game for these playoff hopefuls. It’s Gold Rush for Montana State, so expect 21,000 fans to show up and give the ‘Cats a true home field advantage. SE Missouri State returns the FCS defensive MVP in linebacker Zach hall and a senior quarterback in Daniel Santacaterina. I like the Redhawks to cover in Bozeman even if the Bobcats pull out a victory.

Pick: SE Missouri State +7.5

Cal Poly @ Weber State (-14.5)                                     O/U 52.5                   8:45 PM

Cal Poly rolled last week against San Diego at home. Weber State had a 6-0 loss in a defensive battle against San Diego State. Cal Poly scored 52 points last week, but Weber State is a much better defense. Weber State looks to score its first points and get its first win at home this season. Cal Poly has replaced a lot on offense, but I like them to keep this game close. I’m taking Cal Poly +14.5 to cover on the road. This is also my Over/Under lock of the week. I’ll take the under 52.5.

Pick: Cal Poly +14.5. Under 52.5

Central Washington @ Idaho (No Line)                    O/U N/A                   7:00 PM

No lines were available for this game. No pick. Look for Idaho to rebound from an absolute beat down against Penn State last week. The Vandals look to win big at the Dome. I’m guessing Idaho wins by 30+ at home.

Pick: N/A

Jace Lewis/ by Brooks Nuanez

North Alabama @ Montana (-24)                                O/U 56.5                   7:00 PM

Montana opened up at 22.5-point favorite at home against North Alabama. The line has since moved to 24. North Alabama beat Western Illinois last week 26-17 at home. Montana had a great outing on the road against South Dakota last week. Dalton Snead threw for 430 yards and three touchdowns. North Alabama gave up 183 yards and zero touchdowns through the air.

The Griz have won 15 straight home openers. Look for North Alabama to be competitive for most of this game. They have experience at key positions and should challenge a stout Montana defense. The deciding factor: the 26,000+ fans at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Montana will pull away late in this game.

Pick: Montana -24

Northern Arizona @ Arizona (-27)                               O/U 65                      8:45 PM

Arizona needed one yard last week to avoid embarrassment in Hawaii. They came up short and return home against a Northern Arizona team that dominated at home against Missouri State. Kevin Sumlin has underperformed as the head coach at Arizona and I think NAU QB Case Cookus has the ability to keep this a 2-score game. Arizona’s defense was shredded by the Rainbow Warriors pass attack last week. I love Northern Arizona to cover in Tempe this weekend. I will take Northern Arizona +26.5.

Pick: Northern Arizona +27

Sam Lewis is a native of Moscow, Idaho who moved to Bozeman, Montana in 2011 to attend Montana State. He graduated from MSU with a master’s in accounting in 2016. Sam works in the accounting profession in Bozeman. He grew up attending games at Washington State and Idaho, developing his life-long love of sports. He is very interested in sports gambling and the impact it will have on the state of Montana.

Matchup Spread Over/Under Time
Western Colorado at Idaho State (-37.5)            60 6:35 PM Thursday
Pick: Idaho State -37.5        
Sacramento State at Arizona State (-36)        63.5              8:00 PM Friday
Pick: Arizona State -36      
Lindenwood at Eastern Washington             (-43.5)             67.5               2:05 PM
Pick: Eastern Washington -43.5        
Northern Colorado at Washington State (-36.5)                           63                 3:00 PM
Pick: Washington State -36.5        
Southern Utah at Northern Iowa (-24)                           55                 3:00 PM
Pick: Northern Iowa -24        
UC Davis at San Diego (+17)                           69.5                  3:00 PM
Pick: UC Davis -17        
Simon Fraser at Portland State (-43.5)                           62 3:05 PM
Pick: Portland State -43.5        
Southeast Missouri State at Montana State (-7.5)                           62.5 6:00 PM
Pick: SEMO +7.5        
Cal Poly at Weber State (-14.5)                           52.5 8:45 PM
Pick: Cal Poly +14.5 & Under 52.5        
Central Washington at Idaho No Line                           N/A 7:00 PM
North Alabama at Montana (-24)                           56.5 7:00 PM
Pick: Montana -24                          
Northern Arizona at Arizona (-27)     65  
  Pick: NAU +27       GOOD LUCK!

About Sam Lewis

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