You can’t win them all. I’ve relearned that maxim the hard way this year as my FCS picks have fallen flat after a stellar 2018 season. While I hit 70 percent of my plays and made some nice money that year, I have given some back this campaign as I have cashed on just 45 percent of my picks this season.
Hopefully, I’ll get back to my winning ways in 2020, but all I can do right now is attempt to inch a little closer to the black before the 2019 FCS season comes to a close. Fortunately, there is a play I really like in the FCS National Championship Game this week, so I’ll have action on Saturday’s clash between James Madison and North Dakota State.
Week 1 Plays – 2-2 ATS
Week 2 Plays – 2-1 ATS
Week 3 Plays – 1-2 ATS
Week 4 Plays – 2-1 ATS
Week 5 Plays – 3-0 ATS
Week 6 Plays – 2-1 ATS
Week 7 Plays – 1-2 ATS
Week 8 Plays – 1-2 ATS
Week 9 Plays – 0-3 ATS
Week 10 Plays – 1-1-1 ATS
Week 11 Plays – 1-2 ATS
Week 12 Plays – 1-2 ATS
Week 13 Plays – 1-2 ATS
First Round Plays – 2-1 ATS
Second Round Plays – 2-1 ATS
Quarterfinals Plays -1-3 ATS
Semifinals Plays – 0-2 ATS
Overall – 23-28-1 ATS
2019 FCS Playoffs Semifinals Betting Odds
North Dakota State -1 vs. James Madison, O/U 48
This is the national championship game that we were expecting to see all year. At the start of the season, North Dakota State was +150 to win its eighth title in nine years, and James Madison was right behind the Bison with odds of +200 to win it all. No other school had odds to win the FCS national championship lower than +550, and these schools each had a relatively smooth route to Frisco.
James Madison has not been challenged since Stony Brook took the Dukes to overtime in early October. The Dukes have won every game by at least 14 points since that point, knocking off six ranked teams in the process. They pasted Monmouth 66-21 in the second round of the playoffs, and then used the best defense in the country to shut down Northern Iowa and Weber State to advance to the national championship for the third time in four seasons.
The Bison had a bit more difficulty against the best teams in the country this season. North Dakota State was pushed by UC Davis in the Fargodome early in the season, and South Dakota State came close to winning the Dakota Marker for the third time in four seasons. NDSU had little trouble with Nicholls or Montana State in the postseason, but MVFC rival Illinois State completely shut down this offense. The Bison were forced to escape with a 9-3 victory in the quarterfinals as Trey Lance completed just 10 of 21 passes for 135 yards.
When James Madison Has the Ball
These teams are very similar, and there shouldn’t be any surprises when it comes to the brand of football we see on Saturday. The Dukes want to run the ball and lean on their defense, limiting the amount of throws Ben DiNucci must make. The former Pittsburgh transfer has posted good numbers this season, but he is largely throwing to wide open receivers as the run game makes his job very easy.
Percy Agyei-Obese and Jawon Hamilton have combined to run for 2,039 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, and DiNucci has helped out the ground game by averaging 4.9 YPC. He has two excellent receivers in Riley Stapleton and Brandon Polk, but they will be facing an elite defense in North Dakota State.
The Bison have the second-best defense in the country, allowing just 269.9 YPG. Their secondary is lights out, surrendering just 5.7 YPA, and only one other defense is conceding less than 6.0 YPA.
When North Dakota State Has the Ball
Lance has been scintillating as a freshman. He wasn’t expected to be NDSU’s quarterback at the start of the year, but his dual threat potential led to him earning the starting job. He has left no doubt that starting him was the right move considering what we have seen from him throughout the year.
The freshman is averaging 9.7 YPA with 28 touchdowns and no interceptions. Additionally, he has run for 934 yards and 13 touchdowns, helping pace the most intimidating run game in the nation. Ty Brooks is having a fine season in the backfield alongside Lance too, averaging 7.2 YPC as the team’s leading rusher.
James Madison has the best defense in the country. The run defense in particular is lights out, stonewalling opponents throughout the season, and the only teams that have had success against the Dukes are teams that can connect on deep balls. That could pose a problem for Lance, as he has not been asked to do too much in his first year as a starter.
This is the most anticipated FCS national championship of the decade. It will be strength versus strength on both sides of the ball, but I believe the defenses will have the upper hand. The under is a fabulous play, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this total closed at 45.