(15) Central Arkansas (8-3) at (21) Tennessee Tech (7-3)
The Sports Network
By Sean Shapiro, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 26th, 3 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tucker Stadium (16,500) - Cookeville, Tennessee. Surface: Stadia Turf. Television: ESPN3.com. Home record: Central Arkansas 5-0, Tennessee Tech 3-2. Away record: Central Arkansas 3-3, Tennessee Tech 4-1. Nicknames; Central Arkansas Bears; Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. Conferences: Central Arkansas - Southland; Tennessee Tech - Ohio Valley. Series record: First meeting. Head Coaches: Central Arkansas - Clint Conque (12th season, 88-50 at UCA and overall); Tennessee Tech - Watson Brown (fifth year, 25-30 at Tennessee Tech; 118-181-1 overall). FCS playoff record: Central Arkansas 0-0; Tennessee Tech 0-0. FCS Playoff Appearances: Central Arkansas 0, Tennessee Tech 0. Sports Network/Fathead.com Rankings: Central Arkansas (15); Tennessee Tech 21).
GAME NOTES: It's unfamiliar territory for both schools as the teams will meet for the first time, in what is also the FCS playoff debut for both programs. The winner moves on to play No. 4 seed Montana - a school very familiar with the playoffs.
Both teams should be well rested in a match-up of contrasting offensive styles. Central Arkansas had a bye last week, while Tennessee Tech clinched the OVC's automatic bid with a 49-7 cakewalk against Austin Peay.
After recovering from a concussion that he suffered in Week 3, quarterback Nathan Dick has led Central Arkansas to seven straight victories, passing for multiple touchdowns in each game. Dick, a former transfer from Arkansas, is a patient pocket-passer who has tossed 28 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
While the Bears will likely go as far as Dick can take them, the Golden Eagles run a more-balanced, multiple-spread offense that is difficult to prepare for. The one norm in the Golden Eagles' offense is the quick pace they like to set, but their tendencies seem to change week-to-week. Tre Lamb is smaller than a typical quarterback (5-foot-9) and often compensates by moving the pocket to create time for receiver Tim Benford (82.6 ypg), who often draws double coverage.
Both defenses have improved lately, but still take a backseat to the offenses (which both ranked in the top 20 for scoring). Central Arkansas tends to gamble on the pass rush, often getting into the opposing backfield (7.3 TFL per game), but gets beat for big plays. Tennessee Tech is a more patient unit, but if it can't get pressure on Dick it will be long day.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Central Arkansas 41, Tennessee Tech 35.
11/22 17:31:00 ET