Wednesday , December 06, 2017 - 3:35 PM
Weber State's Kevin Smith (4) is tackled by Southern Utah's Tyler Collet (30) during the first half of play in the second round of the FCS Playoffs on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, at Southern Utah University in Cedar City.
James Madison (12-0) is the best team Weber State (11-2) will have played since its week two matchup at Cal, an opponent it led after three quarters. The Dukes are defending FCS national champions and sport a 24-game winning streak keyed by the best defense in the country, which allows only 8.8 points per contest.
Here’s a look at what oddsmakers and experts have to say about the matchup and the Wildcats’ prospects of staging an upset.
Oddsmakers at sportsbooks make plenty of money knowing how to predict sporting events. Betting site 5Dimes lists James Madison as a 12.5-point favorite after opening at around 10 points. The over-under (the predicted total of combined points) is 38.
Combining the over-under and the spread, oddsmakers foresee a 25-13 victory for JMU.
Jeff Sagarin is a longtime publisher of a college football power rankings formula that was once included in the rankings that decided BCS bowls and the FBS national championship matchup before FBS moved to a four-team playoff.
His ratings are still published by USA Today. He not only ranks all Division-I teams (both FBS and FCS), but his rating also assigns numerical values to each team that allow for a mathematical prediction.
Sagarin’s ratings currently have James Madison ranked 54th nationally (one spot behind Cal, coincidentally) with a value of 73.43. The ratings have Weber State ranked 81st with a value of 65.61. (That rating is the highest of any James Madison opponent this season by nearly 40 spots.)
Subtracting the one from the other, then accounting for Sagarin’s home-field advantage value of 2.33 points, his ratings peg James Madison as a 10-point favorite.
His preview of the matchup predicts a James Madison win at 27-13.
Altogether, this definitely represents Weber State’s toughest test. The Dukes are no joke, but the Wildcats hope to show off a little stiff defense of their own and grab the upset.