FCS Playoff Preview: NDSU vs. James Madison will be a Clash of the Titans
Friday night can't come soon enough for either the top-seeded Bison (12-1) from North Dakota State or the 4-seeded Dukes (12-1) from James Madison.
The semifinal matchup in the 2016 FCS Playoffs features two strong teams that are both perhaps the two conference champions from the two strongest conferences in the FCS, NDSU from the Missouri Valley Football Conference and JMU from CAA Football.
The Bison will put their string of five-straight FCS national championships on the line against a very good road team at the Fargodome.
Not only are the Dukes a very good road team, but they lead the FCS in scoring with 49.6 points per game, while only allowing just 22.1 per game. If that's not impressive enough of a statistic, just ask Sam Houston State, whom they routed, 65-7 to advance to the semifinal matchup against NDSU.
JMU's offense converts third and fourth downs at an astonishing combined rate of 53.2 percent. They have a passing game led by quarterback Bryan Schor who is 199 of 267 on the season for 2,648 yards with 24 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Schor has also rushed for 534 yards on 103 carries and 10 touchdowns. Their running back Khalid Abdullah has gone for 1,528 yards on 249 carries and 20 touchdowns.Brandon Ravenel is their leading wide receiver, as well as their kick returner. He has 44 receptions for 708 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The return game is also one of the best for the Dukes, including a punt returner in Rashard Davis, who has returned four touchdowns this year, while Ravenel takes care of the kick return duties. He also had three returned kickoffs for touchdowns this year as well.
On the defensive side, JMU's secondary has 20 interceptions on the season, as they're led by CB Taylor Reynolds and FS Raven Greene.
That being said, NDSU have won 22 consecutive FCS playoff games (17 inside the Fargodome). This will definitely serve as a rough atmosphere for the Dukes.
The Bison counter with their offensive punch of QB Easton Stick (150 of 250, 2,115 yards, 19 TDs, 9 INTs; 104 carries, 664 yards, 7 TDs) and RB King Frazier (171 carries, 835 yards, 10 TDs). Of course, there's also Lance Dunn with 940 yards and 6 TDs. Over the last six games, the Bison rushing attack is averaging 278.3 yards per game.
The NDSU defense is also no slouch, allowing just 15.8 points per game (3rd in FCS), and is led by LB MJ Stumpf (79 TT, 12 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 INTs).
The matchup is all down on paper and the winner will have a date with either Youngstown St. (11-3) or 2-seeded Eastern Washington (12-1) on January 7. Regardless of what happens between NDSU and JMU, the Fargodome is sure to be rockin' on Friday night, with kickoff happening at 6 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Source: Fox Sports