The Missouri State Bears lost 25-0 to the North Dakota State Bison at Plaster Stadium on Saturday, March 6, 2021.
- Updated FCS Championship Odds have been released after the playoff bracket was announced
- North Dakota State is the favorite, while Sam Houston is +200 to repeat as champions
- Read below for updated FCS Championship Odds, plus betting analysis
The 2021 FCS Playoffs have arrived, and updated FCS National Championship odds have been released for all 24 contending teams. North Dakota State is favored to win it all despite reigning champion Sam Houston holding the top seed.
The first round of the FCS Playoffs begin Saturday, Nov. 27, and there no shortage of intriguing matchups in Round 1. Among the best matchups in the opening round are South Dakota State vs UC Davis and Eastern Washington vs Northern Iowa.
Let’s take a look at the updated FCS Championship odds and provide you our best bets.
2021-22 FCS National Championship Odds
|North Dakota State||+180|
|South Dakota State||+800|
Odds as of November 24th at DraftKings
Sam Houston State and NDSU Lead the Pack
North Dakota State (10-1) and Sam Houston (10-0) are the top two betting favorites in the updated FCS Championship odds. The Bearkats are out to defend their title after winning it all in 2020, while the Bison are looking to reclaim their status as the premier team at the FCS level. NDSU has won eight of the last 10 FCS titles.
The road to Frisco goes through Huntsville!
— Sam Houston Football (@BearkatsFB) November 21, 2021
Sam Houston enters the 2021 FCS Playoffs on a 21-game winning streak dating back to November 2019. The Bearcats have a balanced offense led by all-American QB Eric Schmid and running back Ramon Jefferson. Schmid ranks 10th in FCS in passing touchdowns (26), while Jefferson ranks top-20 in rushing yards (972).
North Dakota State’s offense hasn’t been impressive as Sam Houston’s, but they do have some key weapons. QB Cam Miller is completing 73.9% of his passes and has one of the FCS’s best receivers at his disposal in Christian Watson. The 6’5″ receiver had six catches for 61 yards in the team’s 52-24 win over South Dakota on Nov. 24th.
Feel like we’ve probably said this a few times before, but ……
Christian Watson. TO. THE. HOUSE. pic.twitter.com/oB16QdliCQ
— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) November 20, 2021
North Dakota State and Sam Houston are well ahead of the pack in the FCS odds for good reason. Both teams are skilled at each position and well-coached under Matt Entz and K.C. Keeler, respectively. Where NDSU holds the edge on SHSU is defense. The Bison are only allowing 262 yards and 12 points per game, while the Bearkats are allowing 320 yards and 17 points per contest.
North Dakota State appears to be peaking at the right team ahead of FCS playoffs, which is never a good sign for opponents. In several of NDSU’s recent championship runs, they’ve heated up in the final games of the regular season. This time around, they’ve exploded for an average of 50 points in back-to-back weeks against Youngstown State and South Dakota.
Sam Houston has a slightly easier path to reach the Championship game, but their defense isn’t on the level of North Dakota State’s. The Bearkats have had a few defensive slip-ups this season, including allowing 35 points to Central Arkansas. NDSU’s defense has been more steady, which makes the Bison the better bet in the updated FCS Championship odds.
What About James Madison?
James Madison (10-1) is listed as the third-favorite in the updated FCS Championship odds at +550 entering the playoffs. Along with the other top-eight ranked teams, the Dukes will get a bye to the second round of the playoffs where they’ll face the winner of Southeastern Louisiana vs Florida A&M.
There’s lots to like about this James Madison team, including QB Cole Johnson. The senior was named CAA Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 2,953 yards and 32 TDs with just two interceptions this season. JMU ranks fifth nationally in scoring offense, averaging 39.5 points per game.
𝙊𝙛𝙛𝙚𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙋𝙡𝙖𝙮𝙚𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙔𝙚𝙖𝙧
— JMU Football (@JMUFootball) November 23, 2021
JMU’s defense is also impressive, as they rank 10th in scoring defense (15.5 PPG) and second in total defense (252.6 YDS). One of the reasons the Dukes are ranked second in both the Stats Perform Top 25 poll and the FCS Coaches’ Poll is because they lead the country with a +1.55 turnover margin.
JMU is the best value bet you can make in the updated FCS National Championship odds. They’ll have to get through NDSU in the semi-finals, but that matchup is likely to determine the National Champion winner. JMU has made the Championship game in three of the past five years and beat NDSU at the Fargodome the last time they won it all.
Best Sleeper Bets
You have to tread lightly when it comes to making sleeper bets in the FCS Championship odds. This typically isn’t a division in college football where smaller schools go on big runs. JMU was the only team to knockoff North Dakota State in the last 10 years before Sam Houston won it all in 2020.
Outside of the Dukes, Villanova (+1600) may be the other team worth a sprinkle. They rank third in both total offense and total defense and land a favorable second-round matchup facing the winner of Sacred Heart vs Holy Cross. EWU (+6000) is also tempting due to their stud QB Eric Barriere, but it’s no guarantee they get past UNI in Round 1.
Sam Houston and North Dakota State are going to have home-field advantage throughout these playoffs, which makes betting a longshot hard to justify. NDSU hasn’t lost a postseason game in Fargo since 2016, while Sam Houston is on a 12-game home winning streak. Outside of some sprinkling, its best to refrain from betting sleepers in the FCS odds.
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.