FCS Playoffs Semifinal: Montana State at South Dakota State Odds

Written By Brett Gibbons on December 14, 2022
Montana State odds

The college football FCS Playoffs are in the semifinals. The 2021 FCS runner-up Montana State Bobcats (12-1) visit the top-ranked South Dakota State Jackrabbits (12-1) on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 4:00 p.m. ET. The Jackrabbits are favorites at home and the over/under is set at points. Below, we’ll look at Montana State at South Dakota State odds and a betting preview of the game.

Follow along with TheLines for the remainder of the FCS Playoffs as well as college football Bowl odds.

Montana State at South Dakota State Odds

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Montana State: Unfinished Business

After coming up short in Frisco last season, Montana State is back with another juggernaut of a team. Their sole loss on the season was against Oregon State, a top-15 FBS team, on the road. The Bobcats made quick work of an unprepared William & Mary team in the quarterfinals at home, blowing them out 55-7.

Quarterback Tommy Melcott is the lifeblood of the offense, combining for 22 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards on the ground. Wyoming transfer QB Sean Chambers is a rotational player who’s added over 800 yards and a team-high 18 touchdowns. At 6′ 3″, 225 pounds, Chambers often plays in the Red Zone and in short-yardage situations while Melcott operates standard downs.

The only team ranked higher than Montana State defensively in the SP+ is Sacramento State. On the season, the Bobcats held opponents to just 129.3 rushing yards per game, out-gaining them by an average of over 200 rushing yards. Four games this season ended in a single-score for Montana State as they cruised to 12-0 against FCS competition.

Utter dominance– especially when it mattered most– is best used to describe this team in 2022.

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South Dakota State: An Immovable Object

If Montana State played as dominant a season as they did, what does it take to be favorites over them?

Sagarin ranks South Dakota State higher than three conference champions and one spot higher than ACC-runner up North Carolina. The Jackrabbits flexed their chops by holding Iowa out of the end zone in Week 1 of the season at Kinnick Stadium and again by taking down North Dakota State in Fargo.

The charge is led by outstanding back Isaiah Davis. This season, Davis racked up nearly 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground while also administering some truly punishing hits and highlight-worthy stiff arms. He first emerged on the scene as a true freshman against Sam Houston State in the FCS Championship game, where he rushed for 178 yards on just 14 carries and a trio of touchdowns.

The offense doesn’t stop at Davis, though. QB Mark Gronowski threw 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions this season also adding 10 touchdowns on the ground.

Most impressive, though, is the Jackrabbits’ defense that gave up a paltry 15.3 points per game on the season, third-fewest in the FCS and fewest among Playoff-eligible teams.

Who Advances To Frisco?

The existing over/under might be too high for these two teams. Both field a strong defense and the offenses have played out in some stalemates this season. Both teams revolve around their run game, like many successful FCS teams do, with an added emphasis to QB rushes around the goal line.

Ultimately, South Dakota State has more ways to score and win the football game than Montana State does. SP+ favors the Jackrabbits by just 0.4 on a neutral while Sagarin favors them by 4.2 points on a neutral. The SP+ suggests betting Montana State on the road is the way to go and, with two excellent defenses, that’s the way I lean as well.

If this game turns into a higher-scoring affair, Montana State has the deeper stable of rushers. With single-digit to negative temperatures expected, this’ll be a run-heavy outing.

Both rosters and coaching staffs are extremely experienced in the FCS postseason. While South Dakota State boasts a strong home field advantage, Montana State knows how to play in snow and wind, boasting the FCS’ most harsh and best home field advantage themselves.

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Written by
Brett Gibbons

Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State. He’s a graduate of BGSU and works as an auditor for Google content curation products. He’s also contributed to Sports Illustrated and Fansided during his young writing career.

View all posts by Brett Gibbons