South Dakota State. North Dakota State. Montana.

Yeah, that will get your attention for power programs advancing to the FCS semifinals next weekend.

The trio did it differently in the quarterfinals this weekend, with top seeds SDSU and Montana passing close tests and unseeded (or, more accurately, unseeded?) NDSU winning in a rout.

UAlbany? Welcome to the party, as the Great Danes have reached the FCS semifinals for the first time in program history.

Following is a review of the quarterfinal round:

No. 2 Seed Montana (12-1) 35, No. 7 Seed Furman (10-3) 28, OT

Quick Synopsis – Clifton McDowell’s 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keelan White provided the winning margin in overtime after Junior Bergen scored on both a kickoff return and a punt return in regulation. Furman forced the OT at 28-28 on Tyler Huff’s 13-yard TD floater to tight end Mason Pine on fourth-and-10 with only 13 seconds left.

Game Ball – Bergen returned the opening kickoff 99 yards and a fourth-quarter punt return 59 yards for touchdowns, becoming the first Grizzly to score both ways in a game since 2002. He also had four receptions in finishing with 242 all-purpose yards.

Key Stats – The Grizzlies limited Furman to just four third-down conversions out of 21 attempts while forcing 12 punts, and Huff to just 16 completions on 47 attempts, with Tra’John Cotton intercepting a pass and Corbin Walker breaking up three others.

Up Next – Montana will host North Dakota State (11-3) in a national semifinal on Dec. 16 (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Both programs have reached the final four for the 12th time, but it’s officially considered 11 for the Grizzlies because their 2011 appearance was later vacated by NCAA sanctions.


No. 1 Seed South Dakota State (13-0) 23, No. 8 Seed Villanova (10-3) 12

Quick Synopsis – The defending national champion Jackrabbits led by only 10-9 at halftime, but asserted control during the second half while advancing to the semifinals for the fourth straight season and in six of the last seven. With 27 straight victories, they own the third-longest winning streak in FCS history.

Game Ball – All-American Isaiah Davis carried the ball 27 times for 192 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to extend SDSU’s 17-12 lead (he’s been over the century mark in 11 of 14 career playoff games). Shoutout also to Matt Durrance for a blocked punt and 45-scoop-and-score in the second quarter when the Jackrabbits offense had yet to solve Villanova’s defense.

Key Stat – After managing only 64 yards in the first half on a gusty afternoon, the Jackrabbits outgained Villanova 279-84 in the second half.

Up Next – South Dakota State will host No. 5 seed UAlbany (11-3) in a national semifinal on Dec. 15 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2). It will be a first-time meeting.

North Dakota State (11-3) 45, No. 3 Seed South Dakota (10-3) 17

Quick Synopsis – The Bison scored 35 points in the first half to avenge a regular season loss to South Dakota and roll into the semifinals for the third straight season and the 12th time since the first of their nine FCS championship seasons in 2011. Quarterbacks Cam Miller (13 of 15, 210 yards) and Cole Payton accounted for two touchdowns each.

Game Ball – Safety Cole Wisniewski had two interceptions in the first half, giving him eight overall to tie Frank Esposito for the school’s single-season record (eight in 1953). The Bison lead the FCS with 21 picks.

Key Stats – The Bison manhandled the Coyotes in the first half, scoring TDs on each of their first four possessions, and boasting advantages in rushing yards (127 to 7), offensive yards (279 to 143) and time of possession (19 minutes, 3 seconds to 10:47).

Up Next – North Dakota State will play its third consecutive game on the road when they meet No. 2 seed Montana (12-1) in a national semifinal on Dec. 16 (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The Bison have a 6-4 series lead, most recently winning 49-26 at home in a 2022 second-round playoff game.

No. 5 Seed UAlbany (11-3) 30, No. 4 Seed Idaho (9-4) 22

Quick Synopsis – UAlbany quarterback Reese Poffenbarger and wide receiver Brevin Easton connected for three touchdown passes, including a 30-yarder with 4:38 left to erase a 19-17 deficit. The CAA tri-champion outscored Idaho 23-6 over the final 36 minutes, 55 seconds.

Game Ball – Easton’s nine receptions, 228 receiving yards and three scores all represented personal highs in his two seasons at UAlbany. The senior went over 1,000 yards for the season.

Key Stat – Idaho left points on the field due to its outstanding kicker Ricardo Chavez having a rough performance: He was just 3 of 6 on field goal attempts and had an extra point attempt blocked.

Up Next – UAlbany will travel to No. 1 seed South Dakota State (13-0) for its first-ever FCS semifinal on Dec. 15 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).