FCS Quarterfinals Preview – Wofford at North Dakota State

Wofford is in the FCS quarterfinals for the second time in as many years and is hopeful that this will be the year it makes only its second semifinals appearance ever. The Terriers looked good in dispatching a good Furman squad last week and held the Paladins to just 10 points in their best performance of the season. Now, though, things will get more difficult as the Terriers take on the North Dakota State Bison.

North Dakota State is the first school that most people think of when they hear FCS. The Bison won five straight titles between 2011 and 2015, and Carson Wentz’s success with Philadelphia this season has only garnered the school more recognition. The Bison easily took care of business against San Diego last week, allowing just three points to a Toreros team that had torched Northern Arizona in its previous contest.

FCS Quarterfinals Betting Odds
Wofford +22.5
North Dakota State -22.5
Total 42.5

Keep an Eye On…

Brandon Goodson isn’t your typical triple-option quarterback. He is great at running the scheme and almost always makes the right read when it comes to giving the ball up or taking it himself. But what makes him special is his passing ability, which is a rare trait for a triple-option quarterback to have.

Goodson didn’t show any indication of this coming into the season, but he has surprised more than a few teams when he drops back to throw the ball downfield. He has nearly 1,000 passing yards and did not throw one interception in 118 attempts against FCS competition. Unlike almost every other option quarterback that completes below 50 percent of his passes, Goodson has been accurate as well. He is connecting on 55.6 percent of his throws.

That has kept Goodson on the field as his rushing numbers have gone down this season and there was talk of replacing him with Joe Newman. He will find it hard to run against this North Dakota State front that is holding opponents to just 2.8 yards per carry. Don’t be surprised if Wofford has him throw a few passes early in order to try to keep the defense from collapsing on the option.

Matchup to Watch

The same question is being asked on the other side of the ball. Can Wofford stop North Dakota State’s ground game?

The Bison piled on the yards against San Diego, gashing the Toreros in a performance that had to have given the big boys up front some encouragement. North Dakota State had some trouble with its power running game down the stretch and this may have softened some of the worries about the unit’s efficacy.

Wofford has done just fine against power running games this season. The Terriers are allowing 3.4 yards per carry and teams haven’t had real success running on them over the last half of the year. They held Furman to under two yards per carry and were able to keep the Paladins run game under wraps.

The way to beat the Terriers all season has been with the passing game. That’s how Samford knocked off Wofford on the road earlier this year. Wofford is giving up 6.5 yards per pass attempt and the school was outside of the top 50 in terms of pass defense.

That means Easton Stick will need to have a good game in this one. He has improved upon his numbers from last year and has showed that he is no longer just a game manager. He was awesome against San Diego, tossing three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Prediction

Wofford is not going to be able to pull off the upset. The Terriers have proven that they aren’t the type of team to get blown out in the playoffs, though. They have never lost a playoff game by more than 15 points and all five of their most recent playoff exits were defeats by seven points or less.

The Terriers have a much better defense than San Diego and can stop the run effectively. I think that will lead to something like a 24-14 win for North Dakota State.

Pick: Wofford +22.5

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