When: Saturday, December 1, 1:00 PM
Where: Crown Field at Kerr Stadium, Hamilton, NY
TV/Streaming: ESPN College Extra, ESPN3
Colonial Athletic Association
FCS Sagarin Rating: 4
How They Got Here: James Madison used a suffocating defense and a good enough offense to defeat Delaware in the opening round of the FCS playoffs 20-6.
The Dukes defense dominated on all three levels of defense. John Daka led the defensive line with 2 sacks including dropping Pat Kehoe in the end zone for a safety. The linebackers were led by Dimitri Holloway and Landan Word, both with eight tackles and 2 tackles for loss. In the secondary, Jimmy Moreland had 10 tackles while Wayne Davis and Charles Tutt each intercepted the Blue Hens. The Dukes did not have a lot of success running the ball, but did get a touchdown run from Marcus Marshall. Ben DiNucci played well, throwing for 223 yards on 23 of 31 passing with one touchdown.
Best Win: vs. Towson (38-17)
Worst Loss: vs. New Hampshire (35-24)
Other Key Outcomes: vs. Stony Brook (13-10 W); Elon (27-24 L); Delaware (20-6 W)
Playoff Floor: The Dukes know not to take Colgate lightly. But the Raiders boast a tough, talented defense that could spoil the Dukes plans to get to the Fargodome next week.
Playoff Ceiling: James Madison will not be intimidated to go into the Fargodome to play the mighty Bison. The Dukes have the talent to win that game and make a run. But the most likely ceiling is a quarterfinal loss to the Bison
Key Player This Week: LB Landan Word did not play in the Dukes loss to Elon. Why is that important? When asked who Colgate running back James Holland most resembled in the CAA, JMU Coach Mike Houston compared him favorably to Elon running back Malcolm Summers. In the loss to Elon, Summers had a big game, running for 185 yards. For the Dukes to win this week, they have to control the running lanes. Word will help the Dukes in that regard. If Word and the Dukes linebackers can maintain gap control, they can take care of the Raider offense.
Fantasy Bonus Baby This Week: QB Ben DiNucci has bounced back after being pulled against New Hampshire. In the last three games DiNucci has thrown for 631 yards and 5 touchdowns; and run for 177 yards and four more touchdowns. THe Dukes trusted him to throw more, especially against Delaware when the run game stalled. That should be the recipe again this week and DiNucci will have over 200 yards passing and combine for 2 touchdowns.
Hamilton, New York
FCS Sagarin Rating: 10
How They Got Here: The easy, quick answer here is defense. The Raiders gave up 17 points in their first game of the season to Holy Cross, and then did not allow another touchdown in the next seven games, amassing five shutouts in a six game stretch.
The Raiders dominated the Patriot league, easily going 6-0 in conference. Out of conference, the Raiders beat two CAA teams, New Hampshire and William and Mary and lost to FBS Army. Colgate had its game against Furman cancelled due to Hurricane Florence back in September.
On offense, the Raiders lean on running back James Holland and quarterback Grant Breneman. Holland ran for 1065 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season and added 25 catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the pass game. Breneman missed two games, but averaged just under 170 yards through the air with five touchdowns and ran for 263 yards and six more touchdowns. The knock on the Raiders is that they did not beat any teams with a winning record. That does not discount how strong the defense played all year. This week they get the chance to put all of that talk to rest against a quality opponent.
Best Win: vs. New Hampshire (10-3)
Worst Loss: vs. Army (28-14)
Other Key Outcomes: vs. William & Mary (23-0 W), vs. Lehigh (48-6 W)
Playoff Floor: Despite getting a seed, the Raiders have a tough draw. James Madison is a talented team with a solid defense. Their season could end this week.
Playoff Ceiling: No matter how good the defense is, if the Raiders get past James Madison, they aren’t winning in the Fargodome in the quarterfinals.
Key Player This Week: QB Grant Breneman missed the last two games of the season, but should be back for the matchup against James Madison. It will be important for Breneman to make the right decisions in the option game and keep the Dukes defense guessing. If he makes the wrong choice, James Madison will swallow up the Raiders offense. If Breneman uses his running backs correctly, and runs at the right time, he can keep the Dukes off balance to hit some big plays in the run game. When called on to pass, Breneman must make the right read. James Madison has the best secondary in the country and will be looking for takeaways all day.
Fantasy Bonus Baby This Week: RB James Holland has been the leader of the Raider offense and was compared to Elon’s Malcolm Summers. If he has similar success against the Dukes as Summers, the Raiders will be in good shape. Holland’s size and running style can wear down an opposing defense late in the game. Look for Holland to be near 100 yards and find the end zone at least once in this game.
Jamie: Colgate gets its chance to prove it belongs among the seeds this week. James Madison will come in focused to beat a team that eliminated them three years ago. The talent gap between the two teams will eventually show. James Madison 16, Colgate 7.
Kent: Colgate brings in statistically one of the strongest defenses in the FCS and the Raiders held a 9-win FBS squad in Army down on the ground in what would be its only loss so far this year. James Madison is not the same type of team it was the past two years especially on offense but still has a strong defense itself so this game very well could be very low scoring. JMU has the experience and has won on the road before—see two years ago in Fargo to upend NDSU. The Dukes get a narrow win to move on. James Madison 20, Colgate 10.
Chuck: This game will pit businesslike Colgate and possibly distracted James Madison, who found their head coach Mike Houston’s name swirling around not one but two possible FBS head coaching vacancies. The businesslike Raiders will in no way shape or form be intimidated by James Madison – not only because that’s the way this team is built, but that they were the last team not named North Dakota State to beat James Madison in an FCS Playoff game. The excitement of this rare home playoff game in December, coupled with a possible grey, sleeting weather forecast, will carry Colgate to the victory. Colgate 13, James Madison 10.