The FCS season is picking up with a full slate of weekend games for the first time. The Weber State Wildcats travel to the Idaho State Bengals in the first game for both squads.
For those doing some betting online, Weber State, ranked fourth in the FCS preseason poll, opened as 17½-point favorites. The game will be played on Saturday at 6 pm ET.
Weber State Wildcats
Weber State is coming off a strong 2019 campaign, a season in which it made college football news by reaching the FCS semifinals before losing to James Madison, 30-14. The loss capped an 11-4 record, and the strong season has led to the high preseason ranking.
Quarterback Jake Constantine, who led the Wildcats to two Big Sky Conference championships, transferred to Rice University, leaving the team with a hole at quarterback. The starting job appears to be between freshman Bronson Barron and junior Randall Johnson.
Head coach Jay Hill recently described Johnson, a transfer from Middle Tennessee State, as a strong-armed guy who can “chuck it a mile.” Johnson is big at 6-5, 230 pounds, and, at 25 years of age, has the experience you’d expect from a quarterback.
Leading rusher Josh Davis returns for another season with Weber State. In 2019, Davis averaged 6.2 yards per carry en route to 1,136 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The meat of this team’s identity may well be in the trenches, with experienced returning starters on both the offensive and defensive lines. Games often start and end with the lines, and Weber State is hoping to ride this talent to the postseason once again.
Idaho State Bengals
Idaho State is coming off a 3-9 season in 2019 and hopes to beat the college football odds and turn it around in the Big Sky Conference in the unusual spring season ahead. The Bengals’ last game was actually against this very Weber State team, a game in which they took a thrashing, losing 38-10.
The team is undergoing a transitional phase at most of the major positions, with multiple transfers signing on to the team. Tyler Vander Waal, a transfer from Wyoming, will be the starter at quarterback. Vander Waal is another big quarterback, standing 6-4, and had his moments at Division I Wyoming.
It’s not just the transfer quarterback playing with new faces; it’s the entire Idaho State team – as turnover has been the story of the team since 2019. The offensive line has four new starters, and the skill-position players lack much experience.
Despite a 3-9 record in 2019, Idaho State could hang its hat on having new dynamic receivers in Mitch Gueller and Mikey Dean, both first-team All-Conference talents. Unfortunately, both have moved on, leaving two freshmen starting at receiver.
Along the defensive rotation, the Bengals are dealing with a multitude of opt-outs and transfers leaving, so it will be a learning experience on both sides of the ball for this young team.
Weber State has championship aspirations after falling short in the semifinals a season ago. With their experience and talent, expect the Wildcats to live up to their preseason billing and begin their defense of the Big Sky championship.
Idaho State will have an uphill climb ahead of it all season, and its season opener couldn’t be against a tougher opponent. It’s difficult to expect much from this Bengals team with so few returning contributors. This will be the first collegiate action for much of the roster, which should conceivably lead to some growing pains and learning moments.
The spread is big, but the pick here is Weber State. When making your college football picks, give the 17½ points and go with Weber State.