Hot Reads: You Never Know What an FCS Game Might Tell You
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Hot Reads: You Never Know What an FCS Game Might Tell You

October 25, 2018

There's no line for Nebraska vs. Bethune-Cookman on Saturday, which isn't totally uncommon for a game against an FCS opponent. I don't think that's because the lines could occasionally get laughably high with some of those matchups, but I assume it's more about the difficulty in actually knowing enough about some of the teams in FCS. (At least that's been my experience this week, and we do seem to get more and more FBS-FCS lines.)

I miss the line, however, as a typically reliable piece of information. So far this season the opening line is correctly predicting the straight-up winner 75.8 percent of the time. For Vegas the line's primary purpose isn't to simply say "Team A is better than Team B," but it has to be pretty good at that to accomplish the more detailed job of maintaining the built-in profit margins.

But if you want to know what a Nebraska-Bethune-Cookman line would look like, it's not hard to find.

The Sagarin ratings rank FBS and FCS teams in one group. It currently has Nebraska at 65 and Bethune-Cookman at 221 (out of 255). These ratings have the Huskers as about a 41.7-point favorite at home.

S&P+, which ranks the Huskers higher but we don't know where the Wildcats come in, has Nebraska -34.7. That number is right in the range of previous Nebraska lines against FCS opponents since 2010. Sagarin's number is closer to the top end of the range.

Here are the spreads via's historical logs:

  • 2014: -34 McNeese State (31-24)
  • 2013: -21 South Dakota State (59-20)
  • 2012: -46.5 Idaho State (73-7)
  • 2011: -37 Tennessee-Chattanooga (40-7)
  • 2010: -42 South Dakota State (17-3)

Looking at them in tandem, what a crazy story those South Dakota State numbers are telling. Nebraska was a 40-point favorite in 2010, but just a 21-point favorite three seasons later, which is a pretty accurate snapshot of the two programs' trajectories during that time. But the results go the opposite way.

Neither here nor there, just interesting. You never know what these occasional FCS games might actually be telling you, and this one has all sorts of strange potential storylines once we're beyond the simple result.

Automatic Retweet

Any time this poster shows up in a tweet it's an automatic retweet . . .

. . . but in this case it doesn't just seem like puffery. In this offense, the Huskers might actually have a chance some day.

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