James Madison at North Dakota State FCS Football 2016 Semifinal Breakdown

There was a lot of internet chatter about The FCS Playoff Committee’s decision to make #1 ranked Sam Houston State the #5-seed in the playoffs.  Friday night’s 65-7 thrashing by James Madison over Sam Houston State was the closing argument in The Committee’s public trial on that decision.  Verdict?  The Committee obviously got it right.  The game wasn’t even as close as the score indicated, as the Dukes led 65-0 after three quarters, almost completely taking their foot off the gas for the final fifteen minutes.  JMU exploited every weakness and opportunity they were presented.  The defense played huge, intercepting CSM Offensive Player of the Year, Jeremiah Briscoe, twice and had their hands on nearly a half dozen others that could have been.  Strangling the Bearkats highly touted offense to 270 yards, while they exploded for a nearly insane 607!  Quarterback Bryan Schor was nearly perfect after his first pass was picked off and running backs Trai Sharp and Khalid Abdullah each ran for over 140 yards a piece and combined for five rushing touchdowns.
North Dakota State fell behind 10-0 early to rival South Dakota State.  After that, the Bison stampeded to 36 consecutive points to finish off the only team who handed them a defeat this season.  The biggest play of the game was actually 20 of them.  A nearly unheard of 20-play, 12-minute drive all but took the steam completely out of the Jackrabbits defense.  The second half was a seemingly endless barrage of power running and just enough timely passing from quarterback Easton Stick.  Stick, along with backs Lance Dunn and King Frazier, all covered at least 80 yards on the ground individually, as the Bison rolled for 302 total on the turf.  Stick only threw for 188 yards, but for the most part, it was nothing more than pastels on a beautifully inked outline of a game plan.  The defense held SDSU in check for only 37 yards rushing.  Jacks’ quarterback Taryn Christion was solid and his favorite targets, tight end Dallas Goedert and wide receiver Jake Wieneke, each had decent efforts.  However, the overall efficiency was stomped out under the Bison defense’s hooves.
This match-up looks to be very interesting, especially when you think about how dominant James Madison was over a previously undefeated team.  But don’t overlook what North Dakota State did to a team that not only beat them in October, but was probably every bit as good as JMU’s opponent.  It is going to be a trip traveling from Virginia to North Dakota, not that Bison fans allow many non-green and gold fans into the FargoDome.  The weather conditions will be perfect under the roof, but field conditions are a lot trickier for road teams in this venue because of the home team that’s waiting for them.
Projected Score: North Dakota State 31, James Madison 24