FCS Playoffs 2017: Latest Semifinals Bracket After Friday Quarterfinals Results

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 9, 2017

CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 17:  Bryan Schor #17 of the James Madison Dukes in action against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the game at Kenan Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

James Madison, the No. 1 seed in the FCS Playoffs and defending champion, survived one of college football's best games of the season Friday night to clinch the first spot in the semifinal round of the bracket.

The Dukes used a 47-yard field goal by Ethan Ratke to complete a comeback against a feisty Weber State team that gave them everything it had.

James Madison's thrilling win was just the start of what is expected to be an exhilarating weekend in the FCS, with a few underdogs still alive and looking to knock off perennial favorites for the title.

           

Updated Bracket

No. 1 James Madison vs. No. 5 South Dakoka State/New Hampshire winner

Kennesaw State/No. 6 Sam Houston State winner vs. No. 7 Wofford/No. 2 North Dakota State winner

          

Kennesaw State Looking to Continue Incredible Run

One of the two unseeded teams left in the FCS bracket is Kennesaw State, who knocked off No. 3 Jacksonville State in the second round.

The Owls beat Samford in the opening round 28-17 before handing the third-seeded Dolphins their first defeat in the second round.

Quarterback Chandler Burks was one of the stars of the upset victory, as he threw for 126 yards and ran for 85 more as his defense held Jacksonville State to under 100 passing yards. 

Kennesaw State's defense will be the key for another upset win over Sam Houston State Saturday. The sixth-seeded Bearkats put up 54 points on South Dakota in their second-round matchup behind 505 passing yards from quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe. 

Joe Buvid/Associated Press

Containing Briscoe and the high-flying offense will be a tough task, and it would be the first time an opposing defense has done so in 2017. In all but one of their victories, the Bearkats have scored at least 40 points, and they have put up 50 points in three of their past four games.

             

North Dakota State Hunting to Get Back to Championship

After winning five consecutive FCS National Championships, North Dakota State failed to make the title game in 2016, as James Madison beat Youngstown State to bring home the trophy.

The Bison passed their first postseason test with flying colors, as they knocked off San Diego 38-3 last time out. Saturday's clash with Wofford is expected to be a little more difficult against the seventh-seeded 10-2 Terriers.

IOWA CITY, IOWA- SEPTEMBER 17:  Quarterback Easton Stick #12 of the North Dakota State Bison drops back for a pass in the second quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes, on September 17, 2016 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.  (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty
Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Wofford comes into the game with wins in four of its past five games, with the only defeat coming at the hands of South Carolina.

The player to watch for the Bison is quarterback Easton Stick, who racked up three touchdown passes while throwing for 171 yards in the second-round victory over San Diego.

Lennox McAfee, who was two yards short of 100 in the ground game in the second round, is the weapon Wofford will try to get going on offense against a hungry Bison defense.

                

Taryn Christion Hoping to Lead South Dakota State into Semifinals

If you want to keep an eye on a certain player during Saturday's three-game slate, your best bet may be South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion.

FORT WORTH, TX - SEPTEMBER 3:  Taryn Christion #3 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits rushes for a touchdown against the TCU Horned Frogs on September 3, 2016 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The dual-threat quarterback has thrown for more than 3,000 yards and run for a further 467 while racking up 39 touchdowns for the Jackrabbits.

Christion picked up three passing touchdowns while throwing for 237 yards in the second-round win over Northern Iowa, and he's poised to have another standout showing as the Jackrabbits try to move on to the semifinals in the hopes of featuring in a showdown with North Dakota State in the championship.

A win on Saturday would also hand the Jackrabbits their first appearance in the FCS playoff semifinal. They were one step away from the final four a year ago before dropping a result to North Dakota State.

           

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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