(Stats Perform) – The FCS playoff quarterfinal between William & Mary and Montana State is basically about winning the line of scrimmage.
Montana State, the 2021 national runner-up, ranks first in the FCS in rushing yards per game (332.8) and is getting stronger by the day, while the visiting Tribe rank fourth (276.7) with a deep attack.
Following is a capsule preview of the William & Mary-Montana State quarterfinal:
No. 5 Seed William & Mary (11-1) at No. 4 Seed Montana State (11-1)
Kickoff – 10:15 p.m. ET Friday (ESPN2) at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman, Montana
Series – First meeting
Coaches – William & Mary: Mike London (23-15, fourth season; 85-75 overall); Montana State: Brent Vigen (23-4, second season)
3 Players to Watch – William & Mary: QB Darius Wilson (144 of 221, 2,190 yards, 16 TDs, 6 INTs; 522 rushing yards, 4 TDs), RB Bronson Yoder (177 carries, 1,133 yards, 12 TDs), OLB John Pius (71 tackles, 19 TFL, 12 QBH); Montana State: QB Tommy Mellott (1,401 passing yards, 9 TD passes; 1,013 rushing yards, 9 TDs), LB Callahan O’Reilly (76 tackles, 4 INTs, 2 FR, 3 FF), S Ty Okada (63 tackles, 4 TFL, INT, 7 PBU)
Notable – Brrr, the temperatures will be in the low 20s Friday evening. This is William & Mary’s fifth appearance in the FCS quarterfinals and Montana State’s seventh, including a 1984 national championship season. W&M, a CAA co-champ, is 6-0 on the road, but Montana State, a Big Sky co-champ, is on a program-record 19-game home winning streak. MSU’s top-ranked rushing attack is surging with the return of QB Sean Chambers (19 TD runs) and RB Isaiah Ifanse (program-record 3,552 career yards) from injuries. Yoder, W&M’s rushing leader, has 522 yards and seven touchdowns in the last five games. Behind center, Wilson has accounted for three or more total TDs in each of the Tribe’s last three games, while the Bobcats utilize Mellott and Chambers (two TD passes on two attempts in a second-round win over Weber State). W&M DE Nate Lynn posted his 10th forced fumble in the last two seasons while the Tribe had six takeaways in a second-round win over Gardner-Webb. MSU has a +12 turnover margin, with O’Reilly accounting for seven takeaways.
Up Next – The winner will play either No. 1 seed South Dakota State or No. 8 seed Holy Cross in a national semifinal on Dec. 16 or 17.
Prediction – Montana State 32, William & Mary 24