Week two of the FCS playoffs produced some quality football.. well, kind of. In the second week of the playoffs we found out that Washington Grizzly Stadium was not too loud, nor too cold to stop Coastal Carolina from beating the Griz over the head on their home turf. We found out that lightning does in fact strike twice, because New Hampshire killed Maine again. There are now TWO Ohio Valley teams still in the playoffs because McNeese forgot they were playing football last weekend. Amazing that three seeds went down in this second round. Also, in a random non-playoff game, Southern defeated Jackson State in the SWAC championship.
Week three of the FCS playoffs is going to be an interesting week of football. Five seeds remain in the playoffs and only two of them are facing each other, Towson at Eastern Illinois. North Dakota State got quite a surprise this past Sunday as their head coach Craig Bohl accepted a job as the head coach at the University of Wyoming Saturday night after the Bison (Bizon?) victory over Furman. In case you guys were all wondering, and RIP to my @WyoNationDotCom twitter timeline, Fargo is a better place to coach than probably anywhere else on Earth, even Tuscaloosa. Just ask the Bison faithful. Oi…
Anyways, there’s some football being played this week, let’s see what happens in round three..
We get some Friday night #FCSaction (#MACtion’s bastard brother) as Eastern Illinois hosts Towson. Last weekend Towson played pretty evenly with Fordham… for two quarters. Fordham QB Michael Nebrich continued doing what he does best, throw the football for a lot of yards. However, they had a really hard time running on Towson, only rushing for 32 yards. On the other side the rushing star for the Tigers was not Terrance West, who -only- rushed for 76 yards and three scores. Peter Athens had a great game, going 13/15 for 301 yards and three scores. Eastern Illiinois faced off with conference foe Tennessee State this past weekend and they did some very bad things to the Tigers. In fact, they scored 44 points before Tennessee State decided to show up to play football. Jimmy Garoppolo had a nice game throwing for 240 yards and three scores and running back Shepard Little rushed for 184 yards and two scores. He was rushing for 15 yards a carry. Come on TSU, play some defense, this is the playoffs. This game between the Panthers and Tigers should be a terrific one. Right now I have to give the edge to Eastern Illinois.. they looked good last weekend and Garappolo wasn’t even at the top of his game. I think Eastern wins this by a couple of scores.
Coastal Carolina overcame some pretty steep odds this past weekend and thumped Montana on the road. They did so in some pretty brutal conditions. Alex Ross played splendidly going 16/21 for 202 yards and three scores. Ross also rushed for 123 yards. Lorenzo Taliaferro was also unphased by the cold and rushed for 104 yards and two scores. The Chants played a terrific game. Montana did not play a terrific game and now they are home watching the playoffs with Bob’s Cat. North Dakota State spent a quarter feeling out Furman before putting the hurt to them in the FargoDome. Brock Jensen had a fine game for the Bison throwing for 249 yards and two scores and rushing for another 86 yards and a score. Not too shabby. This weekend Coastal gets to make another long cross country trip into less than favorable conditions, at least this time they get to play indoors. The Bison lost their head coach to Wyoming this week. What effect will that have on the Bison knowing the man standing on the sideline will not be there in a few weeks? This game is a perfect storm of stories, but this week I think Coastal Carolina’s playoff run ends after a nice effort against the Bison.
There is going to be a lot of red in Cheney, Washington this weekend as Jacksonville State takes their talents to the Inferno. Jacksonville State is fresh off of a thumping of McTeam in Lake Charles. The Gamecocks took an early lead and kept truckin’. The Cowboys had no answer for the Gamecocks, but judging by the numbers of punts in this game I’m guessing the fans were treated to a real …. zzzzZzzZzzz. The teams were a combined 4/28 on third down. That’s pretty awful football. Eastern Washington got their playoffs started by thumping South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits held tough until halftime then things got off the rails. Zach Zenner rushed for 71 yards and a score but it wasn’t enough to overcome five Vernon Adams touchdown passes. Pair that with 202 rushing yards from Quincy Fort and you have the recipe for a playoff beatdown. I think Eastern Washington will probably win this one by a considerable margin. No way that Jacksonville State survives another round of playoffs, and Eastern is clicking right now. Eagles win by at least a couple of scores.
So, about that Big Fluffy Sky thing… Eastern is all that’s left!
In the playoff nightcap we get what might be a pretty good game with Southeastern Louisiana hosting New Hampshire. The Wildcats beat on Maine for the second time this season. Amazing how that team had Maine’s number this year. Quarterback Sean Goldrich threw for 291 yards and three scores. Running back Nico Steriti rushed for 74 yards for the Wildcats. The Wildcats also held Maine to 3/13 on third down conversions in this one. New Hampshire’s opponent, Southeastern Louisiana provided plenty of drama with a last second comeback win over Sam Houston State. Jeff Smiley hit Bryan Bennett with :36 left to defeat the Bearkats. That’s cutting it close, I think! SHSU quarterback Brian Bell wasn’t exactly impressive with his arm, completing 3/15 passes for 15 yards. That’s a one yard average per pass. The Lions held SHSU to 0/11 on third down. Bryan Bennett threw for 286 yards and two scores and also rushed for 83 yards and a score. This game should be terrific.. the Wildcats are a pretty good team, and the Lions are too. Don’t read too much into their last second win against Sam Houston, that team turned on the jets against Southern Utah and carried that momentum into the Southeastern game. This is a tough one to pick, but I think New Hampshire has a good shot at an upset here.
There were some pretty good football games last weekend, and attendance for football last week was pretty bad. The playoff games last week averaged 6608 fans per contest. However, large attendances in Fargo and Missoula heavily bolstered that number. Not sure why I’m including that stat in this blog, but it’s worthy of mentioning at least.
There are a couple of really good football games this weekend. The Southeastern Louisiana and New Hampshire contest has the makings of a great football game. UNH brings the punch you in the mouth Colonial style football to the Southland to face a high flying offense that score a lot of points in a hurry. Eastern Illinois and Towson could also be a terrific game featuring an offense that throws the football a ton and a team that relies on a very good running back to be successful. Those two games I think I’m looking forward to the most. I don’t see NDSU/Coastal and Eastern/Jacksonville State being all that competitive.
The good news is that two of these games will be on regular ESPN/2 and the other two will be featured on ESPN3. Should be some great football this weekend!