(5) Sam Houston State (9-3) at (2) Montana State (11-1)|
The Sports Network
By Tim McDonnell, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Friday, Dec. 7, 8 p.m. ET
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bobcat Stadium (17,777) - Bozeman, Montana. Surface:
FieldTurf. Television: ESPN2. Announcers: Tom Hart, John Congemi, Allison
Williams. Home record: Sam Houston State 4-0; Montana State 6-1. Away record:
Sam Houston State 4-3; Montana State 5-0. Neutral Record: Sam Houston State
1-0; Montana State 0-0. Conference: Sam Houston State - Southland; Montana
State - Big Sky. Nicknames: Sam Houston State Bearkats; Montana State Bobcats.
Series record: Sam Houston State (3-2). Last meeting: Dec. 10, 2011 (Sam
Houston State, 49-13 at Sam Houston State). Series Streak: Sam Houston State
has won the last two meetings. Sports Network FCS Ranking: Sam Houston State
(5); Montana State (2). NCAA Playoff Seeding: Sam Houston State (NS); Montana
State (3). Head Coaches: Sam Houston State - Willie Fritz (3rd season, 29-9 at
Sam Houston; 19th season, 165-61-1 overall); Montana State - Rob Ash (6th
season, 50-21 at Montana State; 33rd season, 226-120-5 overall). FCS playoff
records: Sam Houston State 7-5; Montana State 6-5. Previous FCS Playoff
Appearances: Sam Houston State 5 (1986, 91, 2001, 04, 11); Montana State 6
(1984, 2002-03, 06, 10-11, National Champion in 1984). Current Playoff Streak:
Sam Houston State has won three of its last four playoffs games; Montana State
has lost three of its last five playoff games.
GAME NOTES: Revenge can either be good or bad depending on the situation.
Montana State is hoping that it's a good thing because for the second
straight season, the Bobcats meet Sam Houston State in the FCS quarterfinals.
The Bearkats took down MSU, 49-13, in Huntsville, Texas, last season, rushing
for 428 yards on the way to the national title game. Plenty of Montana State
players remember that contest and will be using it as motivation this week.
Montana State has the advantage of playing at home this time around and it
could be a tough shorter week of travel and preparation for Sam Houston
because the game is on Friday night. Plus, it's the first time since 1984 the
Bobcats have hosted two playoffs games in the same season, so Bobcat Stadium
should be rocking.
Both teams struggled offensively last week but made just enough plays to come
away with victories. Sam Houston needed a team safety and three Miguel Antonio
field goals to defeat Cal Poly, 18-16, and Montana State shut down Stony
Brook's run game and utilized three Rory Perez field goals to win, 16-10.
Sam Houston ranks seventh in the FCS with 273 rushing yards per game this
season. Timothy Flanders, Richard Sincere and Keshawn Hill split the carries,
but each player brings something different to the table, making things even
Montana State, on the other hand, ranks seventh in the FCS in rushing defense,
allowing 98 yards per game. The key all season for the Bobcats defense has
been consistency up front and depth. Jody Owens, Na'a Moeakiola, Caleb
Schreibeis, Brad Daly and other players can impact a game individually or take
it over as a unit.
Sam Houston only passes for 186 yards per game, so expect coach Willie Fritz
to game plan for big plays with play action to receivers Trey Diller and
Chance Nelson. Quarterback Brian Bell has the experience and ability to lead
the offense and needs to make smart decisions, whether it be running or
throwing the ball.
The Bearkats are even better against the run, allowing 88 yards per game
(third in the FCS), so MSU will need players like Orenzo Davis, Tray Robinson
and quarterback DeNarius McGhee to step up their play.
The last Southland Conference team to win a playoff game on the road versus a
Big Sky Conference team was Sam Houston State in 2004. Big Sky schools are
21-3 all-time at home in the playoffs versus Southland foes and 6-1 all-time
in the quarterfinals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana State 28, Sam Houston State 25.
12/05 13:31:02 ET