Not looking forward to a weekend where Army-Navy is the only FBS game to bet on and watch? The FCS has you covered with quarterfinal action featuring eight of the best teams the division has to offer, starting with the Montana Grizzlies taking on the James Madison Dukes on Friday night (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Most sportsbooks, including Caesars and DraftKings, have the Grizzlies as 7.5-point underdogs against the Dukes, while influential Las Vegas book Circa Sports is dealing +8.
Montana last traveled to Harrisburg to face James Madison in the 2008 FCS semifinals. The Grizzlies were the underdogs in that game but ended up winning, 35-27, and moving on to the finals (where they lost to Richmond). Will history repeat this weekend?
Montana vs. James Madison Betting Odds
|Montana vs. James Madision, Friday, 12/10 @ 7 PM ET||Best Montana Odds||Best James Madison Odds|
|BetRivers||+7.5 (-105)||Spread||-7.0 (-115)||BetRivers|
|BetMGM||Under 46.5 (-110)||Total||Over 45.5 (-107)||BetRivers|
Montana Grizzlies (10-2)
The Grizzlies rank 18th in total defense and eighth in scoring defense in the FCS. It has been incredibly stingy to opposing rushers, allowing just 75.3 yards a game this year, third best in the division nationally. While their pass defense averaged around 242 yards allowed a game (88th in the country), it ranked inside the top 10 in team passing efficiency.
As for the most crucial stat, teams averaged just 15.3 points per game against Montana (8th best in FCS), and half of its opponents scored 10 points or fewer.
On the offensive side of the ball, Montana is not the most prolific passing team, averaging just 229.9 yards per game this season. Quarterback Camron Humphrey takes care of the ball, though. He has thrown just seven interceptions this season and three in his last five games (zero last week).
The run game was not particularly strong during most of the season, averaging 136 yards per game. But it got the job done last week against Eastern Washington with 208 yards.
James Madison Dukes (11-1)
While Montana ranks well in several statistical categories, so does James Madison. The Dukes own the fifth-ranked run defense in the FCS, allowing just 76.1 yards a game on the ground. Their pass defense is 22nd in the nation, allowing under 200 yards per game.
However, teams do tend to score when they get in the red zone; 89 percent of drives into the red zone against JMU have resulted in points. But there have only been 18 such drives this season, and six of them ended in field goals.
Teams averaged just 15.8 points per game against the Dukes, ninth best in FCS.
As for the offense, QB Cole Johnson has continued to play well in the postseason. The senior leads the FCS in passing efficiency this season and has just two interceptions to his name. He is coming off a 321-yard, five-touchdown game against SE Louisiana and has thrown 11 touchdowns in his last two games.
James Madison and Montana are both talented, exciting teams that play well on both sides of the ball. Both teams are also in solid form. Last week saw Montana face the second highest-scoring offense in the FCS and win; James Madison faced the highest-scoring offense and won.
Both put up 50+ points in the process, but the Dukes held SE Louisiana to a season-low of 20-points.
Look for both defenses to control the game in the first half and keep the score relatively low. But in the second, the James Madison defense will force a few turnovers, something they have excelled at all year. With the defense giving him excellent field position, Johnson will take over the game and lead James Madison to the semifinals with ease.