Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State are making their second consecutive appearance in the Division I Championship. Both teams had a bye last week. This week, the Bears visit Georgia Southern and the Bearkats play host to Cal Poly. In other action, Nicholls
State visits Oregon State in a game that had to be rescheduled after Hurricane Isaac prevented the teams from playing Sept. 1.
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Central Arkansas at Georgia Southern, 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
Watch Live on ESPN3 |
Game Notes: Central Arkansas |
STATESBORO, Ga. – Central Arkansas will be making its second consecutive NCAA Division I Playoff appearance on Saturday, and the Bears hope it’s the second in a long line of playoff berths to come.
“We’re certainly excited about playing in the postseason again this season,” said UCA coach Clint Conque, the winningest coach in UCA history with 98 victories over 13 seasons. “When we made this transition into FCS Division I, it was always to maintain
our goal of playing and competing on a national level. And certainly over the past few years, we’ve had the teams that have allowed us to do that.
“It’s just a really neat deal for our school. We’ve only been postseason eligible for three years, and we actually lost a close game to Sam Houston late in the 2010 season, or we might possibly have made it three years in a row. We were playing at a national
level at Division II before we made the transition, and it was our goal to get back to that level.
“A lot of good players have come through our program over the past six years that have made the last couple of years possible. We’re certainly proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
The No. 8 Bears’ postseason began with a bye last week and continue with a matchup with perennial power and No. 6 Georgia Southern, the No. 5 national seed, Saturday at 1 p.m., Central, at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Ga. UCA enters with a 9-2 record as
the Southland Conference champion; Georgia Southern is 8-3 and winner of the Southern Conference.
UCA is riding a six-game winning streak since losing 42-37 to Stephen F. Austin in week five. The only other loss for the Bears was in the season opener in front of a crowd of 50,544 at Ole Miss.
“I’m very proud of this football team, how they handled the regular season,” Conque said. “We lost to an FBS school and to a good Southland Conference team on the road in a big-time rainstorm. We won some close games on the road, and took care of our business
at home. And I like their maturity and approach to the postseason as well.”
The task in front of the Bears now is a big one. Two weeks after playing one of the most prolific passing teams in FCS (Eastern Illinois), the Bears now must tackle one of the best rushing teams in the nation. Georgia Southern has attempted just 65 passes
all season compared to 395 for UCA.
“Georgia Southern has an outstanding football team,” Conque said. “They have an outstanding program, outstanding tradition. Since they brought the program back in the early 80’s, they’ve won six national championships, they’ve made 19 playoff appearances.
Just an extremely talented football team coming out of an extremely competitive conference.
“They are the most prolific rushing team in the country, right at 400 yards a game. Very disciplined, very hard-nosed, very physical football team. Just a very talented team that will be tough to contend with in Paulson Stadium.”
The Bears have previously tasted success at Paulson Stadium, winning the regular-season finale in 2006. James Paul kicked a 25-yard field goal in overtime to give UCA the win in its first season at the Division I level.
“We do have a little bit of history at Paulson,” Conque said. “In our first year in FCS, we were very, very fortunate to win an overtime game there. Of course, that was a different staff, a different team at Georgia Southern. And ours team is different as
well. But we do know a little bit about what to expect from that kind of environment.’
UCA won its first-round playoff game last year at Tennessee Tech, then traveled to Missoula, Mont., to take on another powerhouse with great tradition, the Montana Grizzlies. UCA was eliminated 41-14.
The Bears had 17 players named to the postseason all-conference teams, including Offensive Player of the Year (junior quarterback Wynrick Smothers), Offensive Lineman of the Year (senior Corey Howard) and Freshman of the Year (defensive end Jonathan Woodard).
Conque earned his second Southland Coach of the Year Award and is a finalist for the national Eddie Robinson Award for the third time.
“I’m very pleased for those young men, proud for their families, and proud for our program,” Conque said. “All those young men, and their teammates played at an extremely high level throughout the season.’
Saturday’s winner faces the winner of the Old Dominion-Coastal Carolina winner next weekend in the quarterfinals.
Cal Poly at Sam Houston State, 3 p.m. (ESPN3)
Watch Live on ESPN3 |
Game Notes: Cal Poly |
Sam Houston State
HUNSTVILLE, Texas – Sam Houston State and Cal Poly meet for the first time in both their football histories in a second-round game in the NCAA Division I Championships at 3 p.m., Central.
The contest matches the nation's No. 5 Football Championship Subdivision team, Sam Houston (8-3, 6-1 Southland) against No. 12 Cal Poly (9-2, 7-1 Big Sky). At stake is a berth in the NCAA quarterfinals against either No. 3 seed Montana State or Stony Brook.
Cal Poly is making its third NCAA Division I Football Championships appearance while Sam Houston is in the playoffs for a sixth year and the Bearkats' second season in a row in NCAA post-season play.
Sam Houston State, 2011 NCAA national finalist, saw its seven-game winning streak snapped by Texas A&M, the No. 8 team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, 47-28, on the final day of the regular season.
The Bearkats earned their second consecutive Southland Conference championship in 2012. Sam Houston earned NCAA Division I playoff berths in 1986, 1991, 2001, 2004 and 2011. The Bearkats reached the quarterfinals in 2001, the semifinals in 2004 and the championship
game in Frisco last year.
The Mustangs opened the 2012 campaign with seven straight wins and won its final two games of the regular season to earn a share of the Big Sky Conference title.
Cal Poly, Montana State and Eastern Washington finished tied for first place in the Big Sky with 7-1 conference records and all three teams earned first-round playoff byes. Montana State (10-1), the No. 2 seed, hosts Stony Brook (10-2) on Saturday while third-seeded
Eastern Washington (9-2) entertains Wagner (9-3).
The Mustangs earned NCAA Division I FCS playoff berths in both 2005 and 2008, reaching the quarterfinals in 2005 before falling at Texas State. The Mustangs have won 74 of their last 113 games dating back to the 2002 season finale and have won 28 of their
last 54 games on the road.
Sam Houston State is coached by Willie Fritz, who has a 28-9 record in his third season at Sam Houston State (28-9). He is 164-61-1 in his 20th career season. The Bearkats returned 50 lettermen, including 19 starters, off last year's team which went 14-1
overall, won the Southland Conference title at 7-0 and lost only to North Dakota State 17-6 in the NCAA Division I FCS title game.
Running back Timothy Flanders has rushed for 1,151 yards and 17 touchdowns in 11 games (eight 100-yard games) – he was named Southland Conference Player of the Year for the second year in a row last week – while quarterback Brian Bell has completed 149 of 236
passes for 2,033 yards and 19 more scores. Bell also has rushed for 262 yards and four touchdowns. Bell's favorite receiving targets are Trey Diller with 51 catches and Chance Nelson with 25 receptions, seven for scores.
Miguel Antonio has made 12 of 16 field goals and 61 of 62 PAT kicks. Cornerback Bookie Sneed has four interceptions, returning two for scores. Matt Foster averages 43.6 yards per punt. Defensive leaders are safety Darnell Taylor – the Southland Conference Defensive
Player of the Year – with 79 tackles, linebacker Jesse Beauchamp with 73 (10.5 for lost yardage) and linebacker Darius Taylor with 62 (13.5 for lost yardage, 5.0 sacks).
Sam Houston State has outscored its 11 opponents 44.5 to 19.0 and is averaging 480.5 yards in total offense per game – 284.9 on the ground and 195.5 through the air – while giving up 306 yards a contest (77 rushing, 229 passing). The Bearkats are No. 1 in the
FCS in scoring offense (44.55), No. 2 in sacks allowed (.36), No. 3 in rushing defense (76.36), No. 4 in net punting (38.94) and passing efficiency (158.44), No. 6 in total offense (480.45), No. 7 in rushing offense (284.91) and No. 9 in total defense (305.36).
Cal Poly earned its third FCS playoff berth in 19 NCAA Division I seasons with a 42-34 win at Northern Arizona two weeks ago. Sophomore slotback Kristaan Ivory scored two touchdowns (13, 1 yards) and senior quarterback Andre Broadous threw a pair of scoring
passes (51, 5 yards) as the Mustangs overcame an early 7-0 deficit for their ninth win, equaling the nine-win campaigns posted by the 2004 and 2005 Mustang teams. Senior slotback Deonte Williams surpassed the 100-yard mark for the 10th time this season, finishing
with 139 yards on 25 carries, while Cole Stanford caught a pair of 51-yard passes, one for a touchdown. Broadous completed six of nine passes for 180 yards.
Williams is the top rusher in the Big Sky and No. 7 in the FCS in rushing, averaging 132.6 yards per game. He has 11 career 100-yard performances as a Mustang, including a school-record 10 this season, to go with four 100-yard games as a freshman at Northern
Arizona in 2008 en route to Big Sky Newcomer of the Year honors. With 1,458 yards in nine games this season, he is the 15th Mustang to crack the 1,000-yard rushing mark for a season and Williams needs 121 yards to surpass James Noble's single-season rushing
yardage mark of 1,578 yards set in 2005.
Senior cornerback Nico Molino is 23rd in the nation and first in the Big Sky with his four interceptions. As a team, Cal Poly is No. 3 in the FCS in rushing offense (333.3) and the Mustangs also are No. 8 in the FCS in scoring offense (38.6).
Williams, who opened the 2012 season with four consecutive 100-yard games, surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in career rushing as a Mustang seven weeks ago. He now has 1,843 yards in two years at Cal Poly and, including his 2008 freshman season at Northern Arizona,
has 2,793 yards in three collegiate campaigns.
Broadous cracked the 3,000-yard mark in career passing as a Mustang last week. He has thrown for 3,007 yards, No. 8 all-time at Cal Poly, and has been picked off just four times in 367 career attempts. With 30 career rushing touchdowns, he needs five more to
catch Noble's school record, and he also has passed for 31 career touchdowns, No. 5 all-time. Broadous has rushed for 1,405 yards in his Mustang career.
Nicholls State at Oregon State, 1:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
Game Notes: Nicholls State |
THIBODAUX, La. – Nicholls State will make a trip to the Pacific Northwest to play its 2012 season finale against Oregon State on Saturday. Kickoff at Reser Stadium is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Central. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
Saturday’s contest between the Colonels (1-9) and Oregon State (8-3), which ranks 15th in the BCS standings, was originally scheduled for Sept. 1 but was postponed due to Hurricane Isaac. Nicholls and Oregon State have never met; however, Nicholls has played
in Oregon before, taking on Portland State in 2003.
A win over Oregon State would give Nicholls its third win over a FBS school since 2000. The Colonels have lost their last 10 games against the FBS, with its last victory coming against Rice (16-14) in 2007. Nicholls lost both of its matchups this season,
falling to South Alabama (9-3) and Tulsa (66-16).
The Colonels are coming off a 35-16 loss to rival Southeastern Louisiana, which pushed Nicholls’ losing streak to seven games. After a scoreless first quarter, the Lions took a 14-3 into halftime on a pair of rushing touchdowns. This season, Nicholls had
struggled in the second quarter, being outscored 116-43.
Junior Landry Klann, who directs the Southland’s third-best passing offense (226.9 ypg), heads into the finale with 1,885 yards passing. Klann, in his first full year as the starting quarterback, is looking to become the first Colonel to throw for 2,000
yards since Brad Zeller in 1998. Klann has tossed eight touchdown passes, including a 38-yarder to Andrew Wynn in the last outing.
Sophomore tight end Nick Scelfo, who was named second-team All-Southland, is one of five Colonels to have 200 yards receiving. Scelfo is tied for second on the team with two touchdown receptions, with senior Aldaro Russell leading the squad with three.
Senior linebacker Jordan Piper, who was also named second-team, heads the Colonel defense with 102 tackles and leads the conference with 10.2 per game. Piper notched his fourth double-digit outing in the loss to Southeastern, recording 10.
Although Oregon State features the FBS’ 19th best passing offense (304.1), the Colonel defense has had an interception in each of the last five games, including two in two different outings. The Colonels will have to continue the trend to help out their
pass defense, which ranks last in the conference at 244.1 yards per game.
While the Beavers, who lost 48-24 to No. 5 Oregon last week, have used two quarterbacks – Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz – their passing game is fueled by two standout wide receivers – Brandin Cooks and Marcus Wheaton. Cooks ranks ninth in the FBS in receiving
yards (101.2 ypg), followed closely by Wheaton (98.6 ypg) at 12th. The duo has combined for 139 receptions and 15 touchdowns, with Wheaton finding the end zone 10 times.
Storm Woods leads the ground game, averaging 76.8 yards per game with nine touchdowns. Woods had a solid day in the Civil War against Oregon, rushing for 70 yards and two scores.
The Beaver defense is led by senior cornerback Jordan Poyer, who was recently named first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association. Poyer was also one of four players for Oregon State to be named first-team Pac-12 after recording six
interceptions this season. Leading the team in tackles are Michael Doctor and Rashaad Reynolds with 70 each.