The FCS Championship Game between the North Dakota State Bison (13-1) and Montana State Bobcats (12-2) takes place Saturday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Oddsmakers opened the Bison as 8-point favorites, but the spread drifted toward the underdog Bobcats in early betting action. As of Thursday, NDSU is -7 at sportsbooks including DraftKings and Caesars, while Montana State can be had for +7.5 at PointsBet and BetMGM.
The total ranges from 41.5 to 42.
|Montana State vs. North Dakota State, Saturday, 1/10 @ 12 PM ET||Best Montana State Odds||Best North Dakota State Odds|
|BetRivers||+7.5 (-113)||Spread||-7.0 (-115||PointsBet|
|PointsBet||Under 42.0 (-110)||Total||Over 41.5 (-108)||BetRivers|
Montana State Bobcats (12-2)
Montana State has grown accustomed to being the underdog during its playoff run. In the quarterfinals, the Bobcats were +9.5 in a 42-19 win over defending FCS champ Sam Houston State. In the semifinals, they cashed as 5-point dogs in a 31-17 outright win over South Dakota State.
The Bobcats beat both of these playoff opponents in roughly the same fashion — by stuffing top-10 rushing games, forcing multiple turnovers, and taking advantage of opportunities those turnovers created. Two interceptions and a turnover on downs helped Montana State get out to a 28-6 halftime lead against Sam Houston State. An interception helped it extend its lead to 14 in the second half against South Dakota State.
Factor in turnovers on downs, and the Bobcats defense had five turnovers against Sam Houston State (three interceptions, two on downs) and five against South Dakota State (one interception, one fumble, and three on downs).
Solid defensive performances in all three playoff games have helped protect QB Tommy Mellott. Mellott did not start until the playoffs but has improved with each game. He has accounted for 860 total yards of offense and 11 touchdowns (four passing, six rushing, and one receiving) over three postseason games.
In Saturday’s FCS Championship Game, the Bobcats D may be up to the task of slowing down the third-best rushing attack in the nation. Montana State’s run defense ranks 13th in the nation against the run, allowing 107.9 yards/game. During the playoff run, the unit has given up just 269 yards on the ground.
North Dakota State Bison (13-1)
The Bison are no strangers to the FCS Championship Game. North Dakota State has played in it a record eight times, all since 2011 — and won all eight. In the two seasons the program did not make it to the title game (2016 and 2020), the Bison lost to the eventual champion (James Madison in 2016, Sam Houston State in 2020).
Coach Chris Klieman led the team to its first seven FCS titles, with Matt Entz taking over in 2019.
Since the start of this dynasty in 2011, the key to success has been running the ball. When the Bison have run for 162+ yards, they are 129-1; when they do not, 19-11. In their three playoff games this season, they ran for 389 (vs. Southern Illinois), 278 (vs. East Tennessee State), and 174 yards (vs. James Madison).
Getting their run game on track will be crucial against the Bobcats. In doing so, North Dakota State can control the clock and keep Mellott off the field.
The offense needs to continue to protect the ball, too. In three playoff games, the Bison offense has turned the ball over just three times (one interception, one fumble, and one on downs).
As for the defense, it needs to live up to its reputation. The unit is the stingiest in the nation (No. 1 scoring defense, No. 3 against the run, and No. 11 against the pass).
Betting Analysis For FCS Championship Game
If you lay the points with North Dakota State, we won’t question your decision. The Bison are an excellent team that appears capable of doing everything Montana State can — but better. However, Montana State rose to the challenge against Sam Houston State and South Dakota State by taking away their run games.
If the Bobcats can do the same against North Dakota State, or at least slow the run game down, Montana State could steal a win against the spread, if not straight up.
Our Pick: Montana State +7.5