Big Sky Bets

Big Sky Bets – Week 4


The 12-game schedule afforded the Football Championship Subdivision has made the betting picks each week more difficult than usual. The FCS plays 12 games once every five years because of an anomaly on the calendar that pushes Thanksgiving back a week.

Because of the extra opportunity for a non-conference game before the eight-game Big Sky Conference schedule that all 13 of the league’s members endure, many if not most teams in the Big Sky have played one and in some cases two FBS opponents. Those games have been hard to bet against the spread because often, the host favorites have taken their collective feet off the gas, allowing the overmatched visitors to cover.

That’s what happened last week in Utah’s 31-0 win over Idaho State. The Utes were up 24-0 at halftime but did not cover the 36.5-point spread. Montana also found a way to cover at No. 15 Oregon in a 35-3 loss. The Ducks entered the game as a 37.5-point favorite.

Last week, Skyline Sports went 5-6-1 against the spread, moving the overall record to 15-17-1. We blame the unpredictability of the final score of games that have an end result in little question. But the unpredictability is what makes college football, particularly small-school college football, so great.

The Idaho Vandals looked like they belonged on a different field playing a different sport in a 79-7 loss at Penn State to open the season. The following week, UI squeaked out a 41-31 win at home over Division II Central Washington, a result that made last week’s narrow 21-16 loss at FBS Wyoming so surprising. The Vandals covered the 25-point spread by nearly three touchdowns.

Nevada was a nine-point favorite against No. 6 Weber State. But the Wildcats put the rest of the Big Sky on alert once again with a tremendous defensive effort. Two weeks after holding San Diego State to a pair of field goals in a 6-0 loss, Weber held Nevada to 19 points in another six-point defeat.

Portland State failed to cover for the second time in three weeks, missing a field goal to barely miss the 31.5-point spread in a 45-10 loss at Boise State.

We gave Northern Colorado the benefit of the doubt because of the presence of sixth-year senior quarterback Jacob Knipp. Instead, Troy Taylor’s offense put the rest of the league on notice as Sac State scored 50 unanswered points in a 50-0 win over UNC in a non-conference game in which the Hornets were only favored by three points.

Southern Utah needed 13 catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns from Lance Lawson, 409 passing yards and overtime to forge a push in a 45-38 win over Stephen F. Austin. 

On the bright side, we picked Lehigh to cover a 37-point spread, which occurred in a 41-13 loss at No. 4 UC Davis in which Aggies’ quarterback Jake Maier took a seat before the fourth quarter began with his team up 34-0.

Northern Arizona gave up a pair of third quarter touchowns and 21 points overall but Case Cookus threw for 357 yards and four scores on just 12 completions to help NAU just barely cover -33 with a 55-21 win over Western New Mexico.

Oregon State dominated Cal Poly, giving up 3.5 yards per carry to the Mustangs’ triple option offense and easily covering -14.5 in a 45-7 whipping in Corvallis.

Montana State committed 12 penalties, including holding calls on a kick return by Lane Sumner that would’ve resulted in a touchdown and a 90-yard interception for a score by Damien Washington that was al so negated. Yet the Bobcats easily covered as 3-point favorites in a 23-14 victory over Western Illinois. MSU moved up to No. 8 in this week’s STATS FCS Top 25 poll.

And Jacksonville State did more than cover +14. The Gamecocks rallied from a 28-7 fourth-quarter deficit to post a 49-45 win over Eastern Washington. The result vaulted JSU seven spots to No. 10 in this week’s poll. EWU fell seven spots to No. 11.

Last week, Skyline Sports moved to 3-0 with our ‘Lock of the Week’. Montana State extended the streak. Our over/under lock of the week hit for the first time as Cal Poly and Oregon State scored 52 on an O/U of 76.

After two straight weeks of losing records, we are ready to get back on track with this week’s picks.

Week 3 Record: 5-6-1

Overall Record: 15-17-1

3-0 in Locks of the Week.

Week 4

(All lines provided by 5dimes)

Lock of the Week: Northern Iowa (Season 3-0)

Best Investment: Northern Arizona +290

Over/Under Lock of the Week: Idaho State/Northern Iowa Over 49. (Season 1-2)

Saturday September 21

Norfolk State @ Montana State (-27)                              O/U 51                      1:00 PM

Montana State senior Brye Sterk and the Bobcats are up to No. 8 in this week’s poll/ by Jason Bacaj

Montana State used a strong second half to cover for us last week against Western Illinois. The rush attack still hasn’t been stopped this year and don’t look for it to slow down this week. Norfolk State is giving up 250 rushing yards per game, but their offense is only good for 270 total yards per game. Last week Norfolk State was drubbed by Division I Coastal Carolina last week and has a close loss on the road against a decent Old Dominion team. This is a long road trip for the Spartans, and Coach Choate wants to keep Logan Jones and the rushing attack hot. I like Montana State to cover against a tired Norfolk State. Montana State -27

Pick: Montana State -27

Eastern Washington @ Idaho (+11.5)                                   O/U 69                      1:00 PM

Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barrier (3) in 2018/by Brooks Nuanez

Idaho’s season mirrors a weekend at the Corner Club. Rough the first two nights, but you recover on the 3rd night and have confidence going into the next weekend. After a season opening beat down at the hands of Penn State and a somewhat underwhelming home win against Central Washington, the Vandals put together a complete game on the road in Laramie last week. Meanwhile, the Eagles dropped a tough one on the road against now top 10 ranked Jacksonville State. The Eagles defense looks to have two starting linebackers out this week, and thus far has some pass defense issues under first year coordinator Eti Ena. The Vandals have had a success through the air with Jeff Cotton, but are only averaging 190 pass yards per game. I think Eastern will bounce back this week in the dome. I like the Eagles despite their defensive troubles to cover -11.5 in Moscow.

Pick: Eastern Washington -11.5

Monmouth @ Montana (-23.5)                                               O/U 63                      1:00 PM

Montana senior Jerry Louie-McGee celebrates his 74-yard punt return touchdown/ by Blake Hempstead

Montana held their own last week in Oregon. Monmouth is coming off a victory in an overtime thriller against Albany. Word on the street is that this is the largest crowd Monmouth has ever played in front of. Dante Olson was phenomenal last week against a very talented Oregon offensive line. Look for him to rally that defense against Monmouth this weekend. Monmouth gives up 63 rush yards per game and 340 pass yards. Look for Akem, Toure and McGee to have a game. I like Dalton Sneed to make up for the 3 point showing and get the offense back on track. It should be within reach for the Hawks at half, but Griz fans will be at Flathead Brewery by game end. I like the Griz -23.5.

Pick: Montana -23.5

UC Davis @ North Dakota State (-25.5)                     O/U 59                      1:30 PM

North Dakota State linebacker Jabril Cox (42) in 2018/by Brooks Nuanez

This line is brutal. UC Davis has been very impressive this season with a close loss at Cal and a great win on the road in San Diego. As the #4 ranked team in the country, the Aggies roll into the FargoDome as a 25.5 point underdog. North Dakota State is good. I didn’t have to tell you that. They have reloaded again this year and are playing like the dynasty they are. NDSU has outscored their first 3 opponents 142-39 this season. UC Davis will lose by 3 scores, but I think Jake Maier and the Aggies have a great chance cover this massive spread. Give me UC Davis +25.5.

Pick: UC Davis +25.5.

South Dakota @ Northern Colorado (+6)                 O/U 65                      2:00 PM

Northern Colorado senior defensive end Keifer Morris earned All-Big Sky recognition for the third time in his career this fall despite notching career lows with 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks/ by Brooks Nuanez

Northern Colorado laid an egg last week against Sacramento State. Good thing a took them +3. Not this week. South Dakota isn’t the team they have been in the past and just recently lost to Houston Baptist. This ended a 19 game losing streak against FCS opponents for Houston Baptist. This game will is a must win for both programs and I look for it to be close. Unfortunately, I have no faith in either team. But Northern Colorado has more questions than South Dakota. I’ll take South Dakota and the points to cover in Greely. South Dakota -6.

Pick: South Dakota -6

Eastern Oregon @ Portland State (N/           A)                    O/U N/A                   2:05 PM

No lines were given. Look for Portland State to win big at home.

Pick: N/A

Idaho State @ Northern Iowa (-14)                            O/U 49                      3:00 PM

#9 Northern Iowa is my lock of the week. Idaho State hasn’t been up to par this season and I don’t see them improving against a very good Northern Iowa team. Northern Iowa held their own against Iowa State and dominated Southern Utah. The Panthers have a huge game against Weber State next week and this could be a trap game. However, I like the Panthers to dominate the Bengals at home. Corn over potatoes every time. Give me Northern Iowa +14. This is also my over/under lock of the week.

Pick: Northern Iowa -14. Over 49.

Southern Utah @ South Dakota State (-28.5)        O/U 60.5                   5:00 PM

Southern Utah is down this year. They had an okay win against Stephen F Austin last week. South Dakota State has been dominant and are ranked #3 in the country. They should have beat Minnesota in their home opener and dominated a decent Drake team last week. Southern Utah is finding their identity, and it won’t be found this week, especially on the road. I really hate these large lines, but I love the Jackrabbits to roll at home this week. I’ll take South Dakota State -28.5.

Pick: South Dakota State -28.5

Northern Arizona @ Illinois State (-10.5)                  O/U 54                      5:30 PM

#15 Illinois State has bounced back after a road loss against Division I Northern Illinois. They have outscored their opponents 63-17 and have a stout defense this year. As with any game they play this year, Northern Arizona will have the best player on the field: Case Cookus. He will have his fingerprints all over this game, but I think ultimately the Redbirds will win at home. These teams are pretty evenly matched, and the weather is supposed to hold up: 80 degrees at kickoff. I like the Lumberjacks to keep it close. I’m jacked on the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, +10.5 in Normal, IL.

Pick: Northern Arizona +10.5

Sacramento State @ Fresno State (-22.5)                 O/U 54.5                   8:00 PM

Troy Taylor is living up to his 10-year guaranteed contract. He has had the Hornets in a great position to win in Tempe against a good Arizona State team. They have outscored opponents 134-19 this year. Northern Colorado and Southern Oregon are not good programs, but they have a great offense. Fresno State has been in close games with USC and Minnesota to start the season. The Bulldogs will win at home, but the 22.5 spread is too much. Look for the Hornets to be competitive in Fresno. Sacramento State +22.5.

Pick: Sacramento State +22.5

Norfolk State @ Montana State-27511:00 pm
Pick: Montana State -27
Eastern Washington @ Idaho+11.5691:00 pm
Pick: Eastern Washington -11.5
Monmouth @ Montana-23.5631:00 pm
Pick: Montana -23.5
UC Davis @ North Dakota State-25.5591:30 pm
Pick: UC Davis +25.5
South Dakota @ Northern Colorado +6652:00 pm
Pick: South Dakota -6
Eastern Oregon @ Portland StateN/AN/A2:05 pm
Pick: N/A
Idaho State @ Northern Iowa-14493:00 pm
Pick: Northern Iowa -14 ; Over 49
Southern Utah @ South Dakota State-28.560.55:00 pm
Pick: South Dakota State -28.5
Norther Arizona @ Illinois State-10.5545:30 pm
Pick: Northern Arizona +10.5
Sacramento State @ Fresno State-22.554.58:00 pm
Pick: Sacramento State +22.5

About Sam Lewis

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