North Dakota State and Montana State are set to square off in the FCS semifinals on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. CT and is broadcasted on ESPN2.
Get ready for the matchup with some key numbers to know.
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Offenses Trending In Opposite Directions
MSU is playing its best offensive ball of the season lately. The opposite can be said for the Bison.
On the season, NDSU is averaging 37.6 points per game and 472.7 yards per game. In the last three games, the Bison are averaging 22.3 PPG and 363.0 YPG. The three opponents:
- SIU is No. 32 in scoring defense and No. 35 in total defense
- Nicholls is No. 56 in scoring defense and No. 79 in total defense
- Illinois State is No. 4 in scoring defense and No. 11 in total defense
On the season, MSU is averaging 34.0 PPG and 435.7 YPG. In the last three games, the Bobcats are averaging 39.6 PPG and 452.3 YPG. The three opponents:
- Montana is No. 38 in scoring defense and No. 75 in total defense
- Albany is No. 41 in scoring defense and No. 43 in total defense
- Austin Peay is No. 18 in scoring defense and No. 12 in total defense
Rushing Attack Balance
NDSU is No. 5 in the FCS with 285.9 rushing yards per game and Montana State is No. 7 with 265.9. But neither team has a 1,000-yard rusher. The Bison have four players with 600 yards or more rushing – Kobe Johnson (611), Adam Cofield (719), Trey Lance (870) and Ty Brooks (902). MSU has four players with 400 yards or more rushing – Lane Sumner (423), Travis Jonsen (518), Isaiah Ifanse (753) and Logan Jones (866).
Heavy On The Run
The Bison have 637 rushing attempts and 273 passing attempts on the season. MSU has 642 rushing attempts and 358 passing attempts.
Offensive Line Beef
Both teams line up massive offensive lines to plow ahead for the rushing attack. MSU's starting five offensive line's height and weight is (from left to right): 6-6 and 300 pounds, 6-4 and 316 pounds, 6-1 and 285 pounds, 6-6 and 312 pounds, 6-5 and 305 pounds. NDSU's starting five offensive line's height and weight is (from left to right): 6-6 and 298 pounds, 6-4 and 326 pounds, 6-5 and 303 pounds, 6-6 and 315 pounds, 6-6 and 309 pounds.
The defenses for NDSU and MSU have been playing lights out, especially lately. Both are Top 20 in scoring defense with NDSU No. 1 at 11.6 PPG and MSU No. 19 at 20.6. The strengths of the defenses are opposite, though, with the respective conferences playing a part in these numbers. The Bobcats are No. 9 with 107.1 rushing yards allowed per game while the Bison are No. 30 with 134.7. NDSU is No. 1 in passing defense with 133.1 yards allowed per game while MSU is No. 84 with 238.1
NDSU and MSU are almost identical in team sacks and sacks allowed. The Bison have 41 sacks and have allowed 12. MSU has 41 sacks and have allowed 13.
Two defensive players to keep an eye on are two HERO Sports All-Americans that are disruptive in the backfield. MSU's Bryce Sterk has 20 tackles for loss and 15 sacks. The Bison's Derrek Tuszka has 16.5 TFLs and 11.5 sacks.
Comparing scores is far from a perfect way to predict outcomes. But it is interesting that the Bison and Bobcats have three mutual opponents in the regular season. MSU beat Western Illinois 23-14, UC Davis 27-17 and lost to North Dakota 16-12. NDSU defeated WIU 57-21, UC Davis 27-16 and UND 38-7.
NEXT: National Title Favorites
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