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Montana State vs South Dakota State Odds, Prediction: 2 Bets for Semis

Montana State vs South Dakota State Odds, Prediction: 2 Bets for Semis article feature image
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Amanda Loman/Getty Images. Pictured: Montana State’s Ty Okada.

Montana State vs South Dakota State Odds

Saturday, Dec. 17
4 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Montana State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+3.5
-105
57.5
-110o / -110u
+155
South Dakota State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-3.5
-115
57.5
-110o / -110u
-180
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Saturday’s FCS Playoff semifinal matchup will see a rematch of last year — a Montana State won, 31-17, in Bozeman. Now, the Bobcats look to do the same thing against South Dakota State in Brookings.

It will be a showdown of strength vs. strength, with Montana State possessing the best rushing offense in the FCS against the best rushing defense in the FCS from SDSU.

Neither team has lost to an FCS opponent so far this season, and both come into this game with a decent amount of playoff experience.

Both teams have also been among the best when it comes to benefiting from turnovers this season, although the trend favors the Jackrabbits significantly.

Dating back to 2013, the home team is 12-4 in FCS semifinal games. Can the South Dakota State defense continue the trend and slow down the Bobcats on the ground?


Montana State Bobcats

The deciding factor in this game will be Montana State’s ability to find success running the ball.

The Bobcats have averaged over 300 yards per game on the ground and now face a Jackrabbits team that has held opposing teams to just 85.4 rush yards per outing. No single factor of this game will be more important.

The Jackrabbits held North Dakota State — which boasts the third-best rushing offense in FCS — to just 127 yards. But against Holy Cross, South Dakota State gave up 20 yards more than the Crusaders had averaged on the year.

The Bobcats have been better than both, but I wouldn’t be so quick to count out the Jackrabbits.

If Montana State does run into issues on the ground, not all hope is lost. The Bobcats feature one of the most unique offensive schemes in the nation with two quarterbacks who can both run and pass at a high level.

On the other side, South Dakota State presents an offense very similar to that of Montana State.

Jackrabbits quarterback Mark Gronowski has found success both through the air and on the ground, racking up over 2,500 yards passing and 299 yards rushing with 31 touchdowns altogether.

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South Dakota State Jackrabbits

This South Dakota State team has a chip on its shoulder, and it’s one of the biggest around. After losing the championship game in the spring season following COVID-19, it made it back to the semifinals before falling at the hands of this Montana State team.

The goal for the Jackrabbits is a championship and nothing else.

To prevent a second loss in a row to the Bobcats, they’ll need to be the defensive powerhouse they’ve been all year. They’ll also need to match the Bobcats’ unpredictability on offense, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

South Dakota State’s rushing offense ranks 44th nationally and averages 169.6 yards per game. The Jackrabbits are led by an elite duo of rushers in Isaiah Davis and Amar Johnson.

Davis is averaging 5.6 yards per carry with 1,190 yards on the season, while Amar Johnson has put up 546 yards behind 4.9 yards per attempt.

They aren’t the only playmaking duo on this Jackrabbits offense, though. When it comes to the passing game, Gronowski has the Janke brothers — Jaxon and Jadon — at wide receiver, and both are likely future NFL talents.


Montana State vs South Dakota State Betting Pick

South Dakota State has yet to lose in Brookings this season while also holding an 11-1 all-time record in home playoff games. Montana State, meanwhile, has only won a single road playoff game in program history, but that did come against Sam Houston State last season.

The Bobcats were already hard enough for opposing defenses to figure out given the four-plus players who could go off at any point. With running back Isaiah Ifanse back, they become even more difficult to find an answer for.

South Dakota State might’ve doubled up Holy Cross’ 21 points in its last game, but it’s hard to ignore the fact it gave up 261 yards on the ground to a team that the Bobcats are considerably better than.

South Dakota State has the more experienced coach and has been the better team this year. But the unpredictability of Montana State, as well as its ability to win at every level of the game, is going to be a challenge for this Jackrabbits team.

Montana State’s defense struggled for the majority of the season but has stepped up in a huge way of late, holding its last two opponents to a combined 32 points.

I think Montana State gets it done in back-to-back years against the Jackrabbits. Back the Bobcats at +3 or better, and don’t be afraid to tack on a small play on the moneyline.

Pick: Montana State +5.5 (Play to +3) · Montana State ML +175 or Better (To Win 1 Unit)

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