FootballScoop's Guide to the FCS Quarterfinals
- by Zach Barnett 8 months ago
If you want to see college football on television this weekend, you've got three options. There's the Army-Navy game on CBS Saturday afternoon, and then two of the four FCS quarterfinals on ESPN, one on Friday night and another Saturday afternoon. All four match-ups have something to offer.
Let's get right to it.
Towson (11-2) at Eastern Illinois (12-1), 8 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN
The case for Towson... Play a clean game, make your own breaks, and there's a game here to be one. Rob Ambrose's team is efficient in the right areas, ranking 14th in passing efficiency, ninth in rush defense, seventh in third down offense and ninth in red zone defense. This will be the first time this season Eastern Illinois has played a team that ranks among the top 21 nationally in total offense, scoring offense and scoring defense. And, hey, Towson is 7-0 away from home this season.
The case for Eastern Illinois... Everything you've done up to this point in the season? Keep doing that. The Panthers have won all 11 games against FCS competition this season; the last 10 have been by 18 points or more and the last three have been by by a combined score of 173-46. For a team that leads FCS in total offense, scoring offense and first downs, ranks fifth in turnover margin, and is playing at home, Eastern Illinois would have to give Towson significant help to lose this game.
Coastal Carolina (12-2) at North Dakota State (14-0), 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
The case for Coastal Carolina... Taking into account Coastal's last 11 games against FCS competition, they'd rank second in the country in scoring offense at a tick over 48 points per game. An offense that battered Montana for 51 rushes for 274 yards and three touchdowns, and then hit 16-of-21 passes for 202 yards and three more scores in building a 35-14 halftime lead en route to a 42-35 win - on the road, mind you - proves that this may just be the team that can stun the two-time defending champs.
The case for North Dakota State... Throughout their run two back-to-back national titles, North Dakota State has shown an impressive ability to make the opponent play the game at the Bison's pace. You're not walking into the FargoDome and beating North Dakota State using your own game. No, you're going to have to play it their way, and find a way to be better than them. Stats aside, as long as Craig Bohl's team can continue to impose its will on opponents, it won't lose.
Jacksonville State (11-3) at Eastern Washington (11-2), 4 p.m. ET, ESPN3
The case for Jacksonville State... If anyone that can stop Eastern Washington's fourth-ranked passing offense, maybe it's a Jacksonville State club that ranks sixth nationally in pass efficiency defense and opponents to 14 points or fewer in seven of their last nine games. And, despite a 5-3 record in Ohio Valley play, Jacksonville State is 6-0 in non-conference games this season.
The case for Eastern Washington... The Eagles have won eight straight - sweeping through one of the toughest conferences in FCS - and scored 47.4 points per game in the process. Eastern Washington is 6-0 at home this season and 12-1 in its last baker's dozen games on the red turf.
New Hampshire (9-4) at Southeastern Louisiana (11-2), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3
The case for New Hampshire... Could this be FCS's Cinderella? The Wildcats started 4-4 and has now ripped off five straight wins by an average score of 36-15. Sophomore quarterback Sean Goldrich has become the focal points of the offense the last two weeks, throwing for 558 yards with five touchdowns and only one interception in New Hamsphire's two playoff wins. Keep that up, and the Wildcats have a shot against a defense surrendering north of 28 points per game in its last four home games.
The case for Southeastern Louisiana... Here's what is asked of New Hampshire - travel 1,600 miles into the depth of Cajun country and pull out a win against a team that's 7-0 at home this season and won nine straight overall. The Lions haven't scored less than 30 points since September 14, and rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense, total offense, rushing offense and pass efficiency. Strawberry Stadium will be rocking!