FCS: Behind the numbers of James Madison, North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Sam Houston State
Just four teams remain in the hunt for the FCS national championship. No. 1 seed James Madison vs. No. 5 seed South Dakota State on one side of the bracket. No. 2 seed North Dakota State vs. No. 6 seed Sam Houston State on the other. By the end of the weekend, we'll know which two will battle in Frisco, Tex. for the title.
Let's go behind the numbers of the FCS semifinals to find out what led the four remaining teams to this point in the season and where they might have advantages this weekend.
4,714 – Sam Houston State quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe's FCS-best passing yards this season. He's thrown for nearly 600 more yards than the second-leading passer, Chris Streveler of South Dakota.
1,568 – The number of FCS-leading receiving yards racked up by Sam Houston State's Nathan Stewart. And he's not even the team's most dangerous scoring threat from the receiver position. More on this in a bit.
552.4 – Sam Houston State's FCS-best average yards of total offense per game. The Bearkats average a ridiculous 7.11 yards per play and have scored 73 offensive touchdowns this season.
267.5 – North Dakota State's average rushing yards per game, the most of the four teams in the semifinals and the fifth-most nationally. JMU ranks second among the semifinalists at 197.2 rushing yards per game – 70 fewer than the Bison. North Dakota State had four players rush for at least 600 yards this season, led by 1,000-yard back Bruce Anderson. Quarterback Easton Stick provides a dual-threat option under center with 745 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
228.3 – The average number of total yards allowed by North Dakota State's defense, which is the best in the FCS. James Madison isn't far behind at 242.3 yards allowed per game.
Heading to the semifinals like pic.twitter.com/qSAs9mvbKQ— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) December 9, 2017
58/860/15 – South Dakota State wide receiver Jake Wieneke's receiving splits this season, which while impressive are the worst of his career. In four seasons with the Jackrabbits, he has caught 281 passes for 5,052 yards and 58 receiving touchdowns. The 6-4 senior's combination of size and career statistics make him one of the most dangerous receivers in the FCS.
118 – The number of tackles made this season by South Dakota State's leading tackler, sophomore linebacker Christian Rozeboom. That's more than 50 more than the Jackrabbits' second-leading tackler. He also has seven tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries and three pass deflections. Rozeboom has only continued the excellence he displayed as a freshman, when he was the runner-up for the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award, which is given to the top freshman in the FCS.
92.3 – South Dakota State kicker Chase Vinatieri's field goal percentage this season. His overall accuracy, including PATs, is better than 93 percent, which is why he's the team's leading scorer with 99 points this season.
39.6 – The average scoring offense for the four teams in the semifinals. The quartet ranks No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 13 in the FCS in scoring offense – Sam Houston State (45.6 ppg), North Dakota State (39.2 ppg), South Dakota State (38.8 ppg) and James Madison (34.8 ppg).
37 – The combined turnover margin by the four teams in the semifinals. James Madison's turnover margin is 16, North Dakota State's is 14, South Dakota State's is six and Sam Houston State's is one. Not only do JMU and NDSU limit the number of yards accumulated by opposing offenses, but they also force turnovers at a high rate.
25:7 – James Madison's interception-to-opponent passing touchdown ratio. The Dukes have the No. 1 passing efficiency defense in the country, holding opposing quarterbacks to an 82.27 efficiency rating.
25 – No. 1 James Madison's current win streak, the longest active streak in Division I football and the second-longest in FCS history (behind North Dakota State's 33 consecutive wins from 2012-14). The Dukes' last loss? On the road against North Carolina on Sept. 17, 2016.
24.5 – James Madison's average margin of victory this season. The Dukes have outscored their opponents 452-134 this season. Their closest win of the season came in the FCS quarterfinals against Weber State as James Madison escaped with a 31-28 win. The Wildcats actually led 28-20 with 3:14 to play in the fourth quarter and the Dukes needed a 46-yard field goal from Ethan Ratke as time expired to pull out the victory.
17 – The number of FCS-leading receiving touchdowns caught by Sam Houston State's Davion Davis.
6 – The active streak of FCS national championships won by the four teams in the semifinals. James Madison won in 2016 and North Dakota State won five national championships in a row before that. The Dukes also won in 2004, while Sam Houston State lost to North Dakota State in the championship in 2011 and 2012. South Dakota State has never played in the championship game.
4.85 – The average number of penalties called against North Dakota State per game, making the Bison one of the least penalized teams in the country. They don't hurt themselves.