James Madison wide receiver Riley Stapleton (10) is congratulated by running back Latrele Palmer (21), and tight ends Dylan Stapleton (84) and Drew Painter (90) after scoring a touchdown during the second half of the FCS championship NCAA college football game against North Dakota State, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)
- VMI (5-1) faces James Madison (5-0) in the FCS playoffs on Saturday at 2:00pm EST on ESPN3
- VMI is in the playoffs for the first time since joining the FCS in 1982
- See the odds, spread and a look at the game within the story below
Can VMI keep the Cinderella story going in the FCS playoffs?
The Keydets won their first SoCon title since 1977 and clinched their first playoff birth since joining the FCS 39 years ago. The reward is a date with the undefeated – and heavily favored – James Madison Dukes.
VMI may be an unlikely entrant in the playoffs but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be here. They own a 5-1 record and have put together quite the run. Here’s a dive into both programs to help settle on the best value bet available.
VMI vs James Madison Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|VMI||+14.5 (-125)||+400||O 46.5 (-110)|
|James Madison||-14.5 (+102)||-625||U 46.5 (-110)|
Odds as of April 22nd
James Madison Defense Could Control Outcome
The Dukes are 5-0 this season and can pin a lot of that perfect record on their defense. They allowed only 651 yards passing and 878 total yards. Those insane numbers lead FCS football and they also have the second ranked scoring defense, giving up only 9.8 points per game.
Head coach Curt Cignetti deserves a ton of credit for the ludicrous stats his defense has put up. Opponents can’t seem to run the ball and they complete less than 50% of their passes, it’s a combination that makes them nearly impossible to score against.
— JMU Football (@JMUFootball) April 20, 2021
The Dukes are no slouch on offense either, although they are a little easier to predict. Running back Percy Agyei-Obese is key to the game plan, and finished the regular season with 381 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Cole Johnson is more of a game manager, but has proven capable when called upon. James Madison runs the ball on more than two thirds of their offensive plays but it seems to work. The conservative game plan is clearly aided by the exceptional defense.
2021 Heisman Trophy Odds Tracker
VMI Thriving Despite Injury to Quarterback
Reese Udinski was knocked out for the season and many expected that to be the end of VMI’s run. Instead, redshirt freshman Seth Morgan stepped in and stepped up. He has completed more than 76% of his passes and has eight touchdowns with only one interception. Morgan has been great for the Keydets but much of that credit goes to star wide receiver Jakob Herres.
The 6’4 matchup nightmare finished the seasons seven games with 807 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Herres averaged more than 9.5 receptions per game and is a main reason VMI has a chance of moving the football against James Madison.
Congratulations to @VMI_Football’s Head Coach, @CoachSWach on winning the FCS Region 2 Coach of the Year! pic.twitter.com/frKBmpaii0
— AFCA (@WeAreAFCA) April 21, 2021
In all likelihood, it will be the Keydets defense that is given the opportunity to keep this one close. Linebacker Stone Snyder not only has a fantastic name, but he can showcase some serious skill as well.
He led VMI on the defensive side of the ball racking up 76 tackles and eight sacks. The Keydets average 3.4 sacks per game and do a great job putting opponents behind the chains. Head coach Scott Wachenheim will need to rely on good field position to try and put up some points in this tough match up.
Focus on the Total When Placing Your Wager
James Madison is a heavy favorite for a reason but the odds makers are taunting bettors with the -14.5 line at +102. They are begging you take it and that’s exactly why you should lay off. That doesn’t mean the best value is on VMI either however.
Instead, focus on the total of 46.5 points. James Madison has a predictable offense and the best defense in the FCS. It’s a tight playoff game which tends to result in low scoring affairs and these two defenses will make sure that’s the case. Take the under and bet it confidently.
- The Pick: Under 46.5 (-110)
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Ryan has been working at TSN for over eleven years, and is now a lead writer and content producer at That’s Hockey. Over the years, he’s launched and hosted TSN’s first NCAAF podcast, The College Football Show, and been featured on the likes of TSN 1050, Sportscentre, and That’s Hockey 2Nite.