James Madison (7-0) got up fast on North Dakota in a 34-21 win, and the defense held tough in the second half. The running game was great, QB Cole Johnson was razor sharp, and the team controlled the tempo throughout.
Sam Houston might have a high-powered offense, but it doesn’t control the clock, it turns the ball over a bit too much, and the defense now has to deal with an offense that knows how to convert on third downs.
James Madison vs Sam Houston Broadcast
Date: Saturday, May 8
Game Time: 2:30 pm ET
Venue: Bowers Stadium, Huntsville, TX
North Dakota State wasn’t the normal North Dakota State, but it was still strong. Sam Houston still had to hold on for dear life late, and it caught a bit of a break with young Bison QB Cam Miller struggling in the big moment.
That’s not going to be a problem for Johnson.
Johnson and the James Madison offense should be able to keep things moving, the offensive line is a killer, and the run defense has been among the best in the FCS all year.
Why Sam Houston Will Win
Sam Houston (8-0) can play a little run D, too.
The Bearkats might be known for their downfield passing game and the all-around playmaking ability of QB Eric Schmid, but the defense allows just 69 rushing yards per game, stuffed North Dakota State outside of two decent runs, and it’s got the pass rush and ability to pressure the JMU backfield all game long.
It’s not that James Madison can’t throw, but to go old school Janet Jackson, it’s all about control. It has to own the clock, the tempo, and the offense has to work on its terms – this isn’t really a team that wants to get into a wild shootout, even though it has the ability to do it.
Make this about the passing game and the up-and-down style, and then turn the great pass rush loose.
What’s Going To Happen
Which side can get the other to play the right style?
It’s not like Sam Houston can’t pound and grind, and James Madison can certainly for get the O going through the air. The difference is that the Dukes are going to be a wee bit better at doing what they want.
It’s not going to be a low-scoring fight, but the JMU quarterback play will be far better than what Sam Houston saw against North Dakota State, and the D will do its part to come up with just enough key stops to get by.
Cole Johnson might be under pressure all game long, but he’ll hit the third down throws and will come up with two big deep shots in big moments.