FCS Football News
FCS playoffs: Defenses key for JMU, North Dakota State
The Sports Network
By Sean Shapiro, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 3rd, 4 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Fargodome (18,700) - Fargo, North Dakota. Surface: AstroTurf. Television: ESPN3.com. Announcers: Jim Barber and Jay Walker. Home Record: James Madison 4-1; North Dakota State 5-1. Away Record: James Madison 4-3; North Dakota State 6-0. Series Record: First meeting. Conference: James Madison - Colonial Athletic Association; North Dakota State - Missouri Valley. Nicknames: James Madison Dukes; North Dakota State Bison. Sports Network/Fathead.com Ranking: James Madison (17); North Dakota State (4). NCAA Playoff Seedings: James Madison (NS); North Dakota State (2). Head Coaches: James Madison - Mickey Matthews (13th season, 96-60 at James Madison and Overall); North Dakota State - Craig Bohl (9th season 71-31 at North Dakota State and Overall). All-Time Record: James Madison (249-191-4); North Dakota State (623-364-34). FCS Playoff Records: James Madison (9-8, one National Championship 2004); North Dakota State (2-1). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: James Madison 9 (1987, 91, 94-95, 99, 2004, 2006-08); North Dakota State 1 (2010).
GAME NOTES: It took a last-second field goal into the wind, but James Madison defeated Eastern Kentucky in the first round of the playoffs, 20-17, last week. On Saturday, the Dukes won't have to defeat the elements, they'll just have to try and knock off the fourth-ranked team in the FCS.
In playoff mode just to make the playoffs, James Madison's impressive defense has continued to impress the past three weeks. Ranked in the Top 15 for rushing (97.4 ypg), total (297.2 ypg) and scoring defense (19.1 ppg), the Dukes have limited their past three opponents to 47 points.
North Dakota State's defense also is impressive and is the second-ranked scoring defense in the FCS (14.9 ppg) and ranked 23rd in the nation for total defense (321.7 ypg). Coulter Boyer is the leader of the Bison's dominant defensive line and has bagged seven sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
James Madison has struggled on offense this season, even when it hasn't been facing the second-ranked scoring defense. The Dukes run the ball often with Dae'Qaun Scott (103.4 ypg), which takes pressure off quarterback Justin Thorpe. The junior may have started half of the Dukes' games, but performed well in adverse conditions and led two fourth-quarter scoring drives last week.
North Dakota State's offense has a pair of consistent running backs in Sam Ojuri (71 ypg) and D.J. McNorton (68.1 ypg), and an efficient quarterback in Brock Jensen. The sophomore has passed for 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions, good for a Top 15 ranking in passing efficiency (151.4).
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 27, James Madison 14
11/30 12:15:07 ET