James Madison is looking to get back to the biggest game of the Football Championship Subdivision season.
In 2016, the Dukes won the national championship, the second in program history. The next year, they returned to the title game but lost to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. Yet, it was still the first time James Madison had reached the finals of the FCS playoffs in consecutive seasons.
Last year, however, the Dukes lost to Colgate 23-20 in the second round of the playoffs. They've already made it deeper this season, and they're one win away from returning to the championship game. But first, they have to defeat Weber State, which is making its first appearance in the FCS playoff semifinals.
Here's everything you need to know about the second semifinal matchup of the FCS playoffs.
FCS Semifinal 2 Information
Date: Saturday, Dec. 21
Matchup: No. 3 Weber State (11-3) at No. 2 James Madison (13-1)
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
It's been a dominant season for James Madison. First, it opened the year with an impressive 20-13 loss to West Virginia and then rolled through the rest of its schedule.
Since that season-opening defeat, the Dukes have won 13 consecutive games, which includes playoff victories over Monmouth and Northern Iowa. They outscored those two teams by a combined score of 83-21, which included shutting out Northern Iowa in the last round.
It's James Madison's first season under head coach Curt Cignetti, who previously had success at IUP and Elon. With the Dukes, he's focused on his team having a well-rounded approach.
"Offense, defense, special teams. We've tried to play that way all year long and so it'll be critically important that we do so this week against Weber because they play the same way," he said, according to Greg Madia of the Daily News-Record.
"I think that's what you see from most teams at this stage of the playoffs. It's a total-team plan."
This has been Weber State's best season in school history, as it had never previously advanced past the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs. The Wildcats lost in the quarterfinals each of the past two seasons, falling to James Madison in 2017 and Maine last year.
After losing two of its first three games—defeats to San Diego State and Nevada—Weber State won eight of its final nine regular-season games, with the only loss coming against Montana.
The Bobcats beat Kennesaw State 26-20 to open the playoffs, then avenged their earlier loss to Montana with a 17-10 victory in the quarterfinals.
Weber State head coach Jay Hill isn't surprised that his team has made it this far and been this successful.
"Quite frankly, we thought we had that team each of the last two years," Hill said, according to Madia. "We had big-time battles in each of the quarterfinals the last two years and thought if the ball would've bounced our way once or twice in those fourth quarters that we very well could've done it the last two years.
"And this year, it's repeat and try to take one more step forward. And hopefully, we're in the middle of that step and we're not done yet."
If James Madison advances, it will likely have an opportunity to try to avenge its loss from the 2017 FCS championship game.
In Saturday's other semifinal, No. 1-seeded North Dakota State is facing No. 5 Montana State, and the Bison should extend their 35-game winning streak that dates back to 2017.
For Weber State, it would be huge for it to reach the FCS championship game for the first time.