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 second in the FCS in rushing yards per game (330.9) 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 are forecast for the low 20s at game time and will drop. 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 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 3+ 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