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FCS Playoffs 2019: Quarterfinals Results, Semifinals Schedule and Bracket Update

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 14, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - AUGUST 31:  Quarterback Trey Lance #5 of the North Dakota State Bison passes against the Butler Bulldogs during their game at Target Field on August 31, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
Sam Wasson/Getty Images

The North Dakota State Bison and James Madison Dukes are on a collision course to play in their second FCS football championship in three years. 

Since 2011, North Dakota State has won seven titles and is the two-time reigning champion, while James Madison won the championship three seasons ago. The Weber State Wildcats and Montana State Bobcats face difficult road matchups against the top two seeds. 

Montana State is the only program from outside the top four to advance to the semifinal, as its quarterfinal opponent, Austin Peay, knocked off No. 4 seed Sacramento State in the round of 16. 

The two semifinal winners will square off January 11 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, which has been the championship site since 2010.

                       

Quarterfinal Results

No. 2 James Madison 17, Northern Iowa 0

No. 3 Weber State 17, No. 6 Montana 10

No. 5 Montana State 24, Austin Peay 10

No. 1 North Dakota State 9, Illinois State 3

       

Semifinal Schedule

Saturday, December 21

No. 3 Weber State at No. 2 James Madison (Time TBD)

No. 5 Montana State at No. 1 North Dakota State (Time TBD)

               

Previews

No. 5 Montana State at No. 1 North Dakota State

Montana State, which is making its first semifinal appearance since 1984, scored the most points of any quarterfinal victor. 

The Bobcats come into the Fargodome with six consecutive victories, but earning a seventh will be its most difficult challenge of the season. 

Running back Isaiah Ifanse could put the Bison under duress if he produces at the same clip as Friday night. Ifanse carried the ball 26 times for 196 yards and a score for a Montana State offense that racked up 279 rushing yards on 49 touches. On Saturday, North Dakota State allowed 157 yards on the ground in its tight victory over Illinois State. 

Even though the Redbirds discovered some success, the Bison were able to keep them in check by allowed just three of 12 third-down conversion attempts. 

The 9-3 victory was a rare offensive struggle for the two-time reigning champions, who rank fourth in the FCS in scoring offense with 39.8 points per game

The Bison defense could be the difference-maker in the semifinal, as it allows the fewest points per game in the FCS at 12.3. 

In eight home contests, the top seed has held opponents to a combined 98 points, including just 16 in the first two playoff rounds. 

If the defense continues to play at a high level, quarterback Trey Lance could lead the offense out of the rut that it unexpectedly slipped into Saturday. 

Lance ranks third in the FCS in completion percentage, and he totaled 176 combined yards versus Illinois State. In the playoff opener, he racked up 257 total yards and three scores. 

If the North Dakota State quarterback hurts the Bobcats in both aspects of the offense, the No. 1 seed could avoid a tight affair and move on to the championship. 

                      

No. 3 Weber State at No. 2 James Madison 

James Madison started its quest for a third final appearance in four years by outscoring Monmouth and Northern Iowa 83-21. 

The Dukes shut out Northern Iowa, which upset seventh-seeded South Dakota State, in one of Friday's three semifinals. In the 17-0 win, the No. 2 seed's defense was remarkable, as it allowed 114 total yards and did not allow the Panthers over midfield until the final drive. 

Percy Agyei-Obese and Jawon Hamilton combined for 186 rushing yards on 54 carries and Ben Dinucci went 19-for-28 with 157 passing yards and a touchdown. 

James Madison boasts a potent duo of the top-ranked FCS scoring offense and the third-best scoring defense. North Dakota State is the only other program that ranks in the top 10 of both categories, and that is one of the many reasons a final featuring the top two seeds would be so highly anticipated. 

Weber State is making its first semifinal appearance, and it had five interceptions against Montana to earn the trip to Virginia next Saturday. 

The Wildcats only had 113 total yards on 59 plays, which could be a concern going into the next round because of how explosive their opponents can be. 

Jake Constantine, whose third-quarter touchdown pass put Weber State ahead for good, has to be wary of John Daka and Ron'Dell Carter, who both rank in the top 15 in sacks

In eight home games, the Dukes have allowed two opponents over 20 points. One was against Monmouth in a blowout playoff win, and the other was versus Villanova, which put up 24 on October 12. 

In total, James Madison has outscored home foes 357-96. That dominance, combined with its experience at this stage of the season, should power the No. 2 seed into the title clash. 

                      

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from NCAA.com.