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PUTTING IT ON THE LINE: Advancing to the FCS semifinals for the first time since 2017, second-seed Sam Houston State hosts top-ranked James Madison in Huntsville

It may seem strange, but there’s something special about watching exciting, quality and nail-biting college football in May.

With the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) postseason tournament providing the thrills, second-seed Sam Houston State Bearkats knocked off the perennial and defending national champion North Dakota State Bison, 24-20, in the quarterfinals last Sunday at Huntsville’s Bowers Stadium to advance to the final four for the first time since 2017.

The Bearkats (8-0) snapped a winless drought against North Dakota State (7-3) in the playoffs and remained perfect in FCS postseason games played at Bowers Stadium with a 15-0 record. Sam Houston State will stay home to host third seed James Madison (7-0) in the semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Bowers Stadium.

Ranked No. 1 in the final AGFCA FCS Coaches poll, James Madison knocked off seventh-ranked North Dakota, 34-21, last Sunday, giving the Dukes their third straight victory over a nationally-ranked team. James Madison eased past 12th-ranked Richmond, 23-6, in the regular season finale before eliminating 11th-ranked VMI, 31-24, in the first round of the FCS playoffs

On the other hand, Sam Houston State will be playing in the FCS semifinals for the third time since 2015, losing in 2015 and 2017 to North Dakota State after being denied the national title by the Bison in 2011 and 2012.

On the other side of the bracket, the top-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits (7-1) will be challenged by the surprising and inspired Delaware Hens (7-0) coming off a 20-14 upset victory over fourth seed Jacksonville State (10-3). The Jackrabbits struggled to hold off Southern Illinois (6-4), 31-26, in the quarterfinals last Sunday.

Throughout the unprecedented spring football season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus prognosticators will select NCAA FCS and Division III college football games featuring Texas teams.

This season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel consists of newcomer Don Nicholas, Field Representative for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (TX-25), while Meridian Yellowjacket football head coach Wade Morton, The Sports Buzz photographer David Harding and The Sports Buzz’ Brett Voss return from last year.

For the record, Gridiron Gurus’ friendly battle for bragging right during the “real” fall football season came down to the final game of the season, the Super Bowl. With both Wade and Brett amazingly tied after picking 245 games going into Super Bowl LV, Wade correctly picked Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to upset Brett’s choice and favorites, the Kansas City Chiefs. Congrats, Wade.

Join us every Thursday throughout the 2021 spring football season as THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick their winners for the unprecedented spring football games. Be sure to make your picks as well!

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