We’re done with bowl games for the year, but there’s one truly amateur football game left in the season—and it kicks off in just a few short minutes.
No, it’s not the College Football Playoff or NCAA Championship Game—unless the Bizon have a slide I don’t know about (I imagine it’d be cold in Fargo) or the Dukes have locker benches that turn into beds with charging ports, I’m comfortable saying that these are two programs that play college football for college football’s sake, and plan to leave Frisco with the title that will define their lives.
 James Madison Dukes vs.  North Dakota St. Bison
11am GTZ | ABC/ESPN3 | JMU -1 | O/U 45
Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX || JMU: 14-1, Sagarin 50 | NDSU: 15-0, Sagarin 36
Yep, that’s two teams playing in a soccer stadium. Called “Fargo South” (with good reason!) by most NDSU fans, who are making their eighth appearance in nine years, Frisco is feeling more like Fargo (which is -13 and sunny!) today than Harrisonburg, at 30 degrees with some drizzle and clouds in the forecast.
It’s a rematch of the 2018 game, which NDSU won 17-13, led by some quarterback named Easton Stick who went onto the Chargers or whatever. I’m sure he’s fine.
How They Got Here:
JMU: With the 2-seed, the Dukes got a first-round bye. They whipped Monmouth, 66-21, stifled the Northern Iowa Panthers 17-0, and then plowed over the #3 seed Weber State Wildcats, 30-14. Not many tests yet.
NDSU: The 1-seeds and defending champs have actually had a nervy moment! After dispatching Nicholls 37-13 (the Colonels denied us a UND-NDSU second-rounder), the Bizon struggled with Missouri Valley rivals Illinois State Redbirds, who became the first team since 2002 (I think) to hold NDSU to no touchdowns at the Fargodome. Unfortunately the Redbirds could not throw or generally move the ball, either, and lost 9-3. NDSU then remembered “Hey, we’re pretty good at football,” pounding Montana State 42-14 in the semifinals.
Who should we know about?
Really, just go with the quarterbacks. These’ll be narratives that I’m sure Rusty Dvoracek will beat at you within five seconds of turning this game on, but unlike him I didn’t just look them up 20 minutes before the game and pretend I watched him all year. I watch some pretty fucking terrible football on weird channels—give the people the OTE Livestream of the game like they watch, ESPN/Twitch/whomever.
For James Madison that’s Pitt transfer Ben DiNucci, who I last saw in the Pinstripe Bowl doing what I recall was a lot of running around aimlessly and throwing interceptions. I’m fairly confident he’s gotten better since then.
Different story for the Bizon, who have freshman QB and I’m pretty sure Walter Payton Award winner Trey Lance calling the signals and running around. The Redbirds held him in check by spying him very, very actively, but the Marshall, MN, product (seriously) hasn’t thrown a pick all year (you’ll hear Rusty or Rocky or Spike or whomever say that 15 times!) and will take off with the ball at any moment.
Did they play any FBS teams?
The Dukes did! The opened the season ranked #2 in FCS—where they’ve stayed all year—and lost to the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown by a spicy score of 20-13.
I dunno, probably North Dakota State. Let’s say 21-17, for shits.
Any Big Ten news?
Nothing I’d really like to report. Raheem Blackshear wound up at Virginia Tech, allegedly, and that one Michigan State receiver who was pretty decent (let’s say Cody White—I can’t be bothered) is going pro. John Donovan got an OC job at Washington, showing that any old “football guy” (code for white, beez tells me) can fail upwards, somehow.
Anything else you guys have heard?
Here’s a thread for the day’s football. Basketball over here if you want. Have fun.