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2021 FCS Semifinal Odds and Predictions: North Dakota State vs James Madison, South Dakota State vs Montana State

Brady Trettenero

by Brady Trettenero in College Football

Dec 17, 2021 · 5:58 AM PST

Pierre Strong running
South Dakota State's Pierre Strong, Jr. avoids a tackle by North Dakota State's Michael Tutsie in the annual Dakota Marker game on Saturday, November 6, 2021 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings. Dakota Marker 2021 004
  • The 2021 FCS Semifinals will be played on Friday, December 17th and Saturday, December 18th
  • James Madison and North Dakota State clash in Fargo, while Montana State hosts South Dakota State
  • Read below for 2021 FCS Semifinal odds and predictions for both matchups

There are only four teams remaining in the quest for the 2021 FCS Championship. The FCS Semifinals will be played on Friday, December 17th and Saturday, December 18th.

James Madison and North Dakota State clash in a highly-anticipated rivalry matchup on Friday, while Montana State hosts South Dakota State in the other semifinal matchup on Saturday.

Here are betting odds and predictions for the two 2021 FCS Semifinal games.

James Madison vs North Dakota State Odds

Game Time (EST) Team Spread Moneyline Total
Friday, Dec. 17 James Madison +5 (-110) +170 O 48 (+100)
9:15 p.m. North Dakota State -5 (-110) -200 O 48 (-120)

Odds as of December 17th at DraftKings

Dukes Hold Underdog Value in Fargo

James Madison is one of the hottest teams in the country heading into their huge semifinal game against North Dakota State. The Dukes have won eight straight games, including a 28-6 victory over Montana in the FCS Quarterfinals. The Dukes covered the spread as -7.5 favorites.

North Dakota State, meanwhile, has won four straight games, including a 27-3 victory over East Tennessee in the quarterfinal. The Bison failed to cover the large spread as -25.5 favorites. Star receiver Christian Watson missed the game with a hamstring injury and is questionable vs JMU.

NDSU is 3-1 all-time against JMU, but the Dukes won 27-17 in the 2016 semifinals that last time these two teams met in Fargo. Both these teams have similar offensive and defensive numbers, so we’re likely in for another tight battle. The previous four meetings were decided by 10 or fewer points.

The value is with JMU due to their passing game. QB Cole Johnson has thrown 13 TD passes in his last three games, while receivers Antwane Wells Jr. and Kris Thornton have each topped 1,000 yards. If NDSU has shown a weakness, it’s the ability to get lit up for big plays in the secondary. 

James Madison is healthier and the more complete team heading into this rivalry showdown. While NDSU is 30-1 all-time in FCS playoff games at the Fargodome, the Dukes were the one team to pierce their armour. Back Curt Cignetti’s team as road underdogs in what should be a close FCS Semifinal.

  • Pick: James Madison +5 (-110)

South Dakota State vs Montana State Odds

Game Time (EST) Team Spread Moneyline Total
Saturday, Dec. 18 South Dakota State -5.5 (-110) -210 O 47 (-115)
2:00 p.m. Montana State +5.5 (-110) +175 U 47 (-105)

Jackrabbits Will Run Over Bobcats

South Dakota State will look to establish its dominate ground game when it faces Montana State in the second FCS Semifinal on Saturday. The Jackrabbits have rushed for an average of 306 rushing yards in three consecutive playoff games against UC Davis, Sac State and Villanova.

No team has been able to shutdown the SDSU run game this season. The Jackrabbits have the best rushing tandem in FCS with Pierre Strong Jr. and Isaiah Davis. The two running backs have combined for 774 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in three playoff games.

There’s some injury concern for Pierre Strong entering Saturday’s game as he exited last weekend’s quarterfinal game against Villanova with a leg injury. While his status for the FCS Semifinal is uncertain, Davis proved with 174 rushing yards last weekend he’s capable of handling the load.

Montana State is actually averaging more rushing yards per carry than SDSU, but their success is heavily dependent on one player. Isaiah Ifanse has rushed the ball 262 times for 1,539 yards this season. Elite defenses are able to build a game plan for Ifanse, including NDSU neutralizing him in the 2019 FCS Playoffs.

The Jackrabbits are only allowing 105 rushing yards per game and have forced 10 turnovers in three straight road playoff games. The run game will continue doing what’s done all season, but it’ll be the feisty secondary that comes with a few big plays to help SDSU cover the spread at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Pick: South Dakota State -5.5 (-110)
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