We’re down to the final eight teams in the FCS Playoffs, as an unprecedented six of those teams face off on Friday evening in an intriguing tripleheader that includes three Big Sky teams. It should be a great show with an unprecedented three quarterfinal games being carried by ESPN networks, but all three of the Friday games played after sundown could be deeply affected by the weather.
Check out what CSJ thought of the FCS first round games here.
If you want to feel smart and see what games we’ve picked wrong in our original brackets, click here.
CSJ’s previews of the 2019 FCS Playoffs Quarterfinals (including links to live streams)
Friday December 13th: 7:00 PM EST: Northern Iowa at James Madison (ESPN2)
Chuck Burton: The Dukes will face the best FCS defense they’ve faced in a while, but JMU is a complete team that is built to make it to Frisco. I expect this game to be close for a while, especially if weather slows things down, but eventually the Dukes should break through. James Madison 34, Northern Iowa 10
Kent Schmidt: UNI has shown it can compete defensively with anyone in the country. This will hold true possibly into the second quarter, but JMU is too strong to be held down much longer than that. The Dukes have a close halftime score but pour it on in the second half. James Madison 41, Northern Iowa 17
Jamie Williams: There is supposed to be inclement weather for the duration of this game. On a clear night this would probably be a huge JMU win. As it stands with the weather forecast, expect a little tighter defensive game. JMU still wins big, but it takes a while. James Madison 31, Northern Iowa 13
Ray Maloney: The Dukes proved they have few weaknesses in their game as the ran all over Monmouth last weekend to advance to this week’s quarterfinal round of games. UNI coach Mark Farley has a track record of putting together strong defensive units, but that unit is growing tired after a pair of tough playoff games. James Madison 28, Northern Iowa 14
Friday December 13th: 6:00 PM MST: Austin Peay at Montana State (ESPN3)
Chuck: If there is one thing I have learned this postseason, it’s that Austin Peay’s Mark Hudspeth can flat-out coach. That being said, Hudspeth and his all-star QB Javaughn Craig may finally meet their physical match with Montana State, who have gotten a little bit lucky to get another home game. I see another close game here, but the home team should have enough to make the semis. Montana State 31, Austin Peay 28
Kent: Austin Peay has had an outstanding playoff run so far. Going far west to California to defeat Sacramento State last week surprised me greatly. Montana State, on the other hand, defeated Albany easily. With this game being this Friday and APSU having to travel once again a long distance from home, I think will be too much for them to overcome. I like the Bobcats to take this one fairly easily. Montana State 31, Austin Peay 17
Jamie: The key matchup in this one will be Austin Peay’s 7th ranked rush defense against Montana State’s 8th ranked rush offense. In the end, I think Montana State will throw too many different bodies at the run game and keep the Govs off balance. This will be the closest game of the weekend. Montana State 31, Austin Peay 30
Ray: Austin Peay continues to impress and roll along. Montana State might not know what hit them. Austin Peay 34, Montana State 21
Friday December 13th, 8:00 PM MST: Montana at Weber State (ESPN2)
Chuck: Weber State in no way, shape or form will be intimidated by the number of points the Grizzlies scored last week, and it is very, very hard for two quality FCS teams to win twice against the same team in the same year. It could be a classic, with the hungrier Wildcats on top. Weber State 28, Montana 24
Kent: This is the most intriguing game for me of the weekend between these two Big Sky rivals. Montana defeated Weber easily in Missoula this year 35-16, but this game will be in Ogden. The Grizzles handled Southeastern Louisiana easily last week, while the Wildcats narrowly escaped Kennesaw State. This one will again be close in my view but the Grizzles will do just what they did in the meeting with Weber four weeks ago to come out with the win. Montana 33, Weber State 27
Jamie: This is a match up good enough to make east coasters stay up after the UNI/JMU game finishes. Can Montana have the same road success against Weber that it had a few weeks ago at home? Maybe not to that extent, but look for Montana to shake off their road woes and get a win. Montana 27, Weber State 20
Ray: I keep going back and forth on this one. Yes, Montana defeated WSU earlier this season and some may argue its tough to beat a team twice. That may be true, but having lost to the Griz may allow some doubt to creep into the minds of the Wildcats. I am going to give the edge in this one to Karma after the way Montana kept a good chunk of its first team on the field late in last week’s game. Weber State 24, Montana 23
Saturday December 14th, 11:00 AM CST: Illinois State at North Dakota State (ESPN)
Chuck: Opposing head coaches will be hoping that Nicholls last week left some breadcrumbs to follow the trail on how to possibly beat the Bison in the Fargodome. Bison head coach Matt Entz can’t be very happy that Illinois State RB James Robinson, who finished a mind-boggling 10th in the Walter Payton Award voting, might also even more angry energy this week than usual due to his postseason award snub. While angry Robinson is something to fear, the Bison remember that they held him to 94 yards and 0 TDs the last time out in a dominant 37-3 Missouri Valley conference road victory, so it won’t be a mystery for them on how to beat the Redbirds. Robinson will score, but NDSU has too many answers to what Brock Spack will throw at them. North Dakota State 38, Illinois State 10
Kent: Much like Austin Peay, Illinois State has had an outstanding playoff so far. Of course, the Redbirds will run and run and run again James Robinson in the hopes to derail the Bison. NDSU handled Illinois State earlier this year on the road. The call-out to Bison fans were made for this game and expect them to be in full throttle inside the Fargodome to help NDSU win easily. North Dakota State 38, Illinois State 21
Jamie: Rule No. 1 in trying to beat the Bison is, you cant out-NDSU NDSU. But that is what Illinois State will try to do. Rule No. 2 is that you cant be one-dimensional and beat the Bison. But that is what Illinois State is forced to do due to injury. Jerry Rice Award winner Trey Lance will lead the Bison to yet another semifinal. North Dakota State 40, Illinois State 10
Ray: I am seeing some things resurface in the play of the Bison that I have not seen since 2009, things that are uncharacteristic of the Bison during their decade of dominance. And Brock Spack is growing tired of being snake-bitten by the Bison in recent years. It would not surprise me to see NDSU fall in this one, but I am going to go: North Dakota State 20, Illinois State 18