(15) Central Arkansas (9-3) at (5) Montana (9-2)
The Sports Network
By Sean Shapiro, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 3rd, 2:05 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Washington-Grizzly Stadium/John Hoyt Field (25,217) - Missoula, Montana. Surface: Sprinturf. Television: ESPN3.com, ESPN Game Plan. Announcers: Ryan Rose and Adam Archuleta. Home Record: Central Arkansas 5-0; Montana 6-0. Away Record: Central Arkansas 4-3; Montana 3-2. Series Record: First meeting. Conference: Central Arkansas - Southland; Montana - Big Sky. Nicknames: Central Arkansas Bears; Montana Grizzlies. Sports Network/Fathead.com Ranking: Central Arkansas (15); Montana (5). NCAA Playoff Seedings: Central Arkansas (NS); Montana (4). Head Coaches: Central Arkansas - Clint Conque (12th season, 89-50 at Central Arkansas and Overall); Montana - Robin Pflugrad (2nd season 16-6 at Montana and Overall). All-Time Record: Central Arkansas (528-362-42); Montana (543-462-23). FCS Playoff Records: Central Arkansas (1-0); Montana (2 national championships 1995, 2001, 30-18). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Central Arkansas 0; Montana 20 (1982, 1988-89, 1993-2009).
GAME NOTES: Last week, Central Arkansas made its FCS playoff debut and defeated Tennessee Tech, 34-14. This week, the Bears will visit Washington- Grizzly Stadium, a venue and team synonymous with success at the FCS level. Montana, which closed out the season with a 36-10 rout of rival Montana State, hasn't lost in front of its loud, loyal crowd this season.
The match-up to watch is Central Arkansas' passing attack against Montana's secondary. Bears quarterback Nathan Dick (273.6 ypg) has passed for multiple touchdowns in eight straight games and faces a secondary that has buckled down during the past month.
While Dick is a more prototypical pocket passer, Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson is more of a game manager. The sophomore often puts the ball in the hands of Peter Nguyen, Jordan Canada and Jabin Sambrano - all capable playmakers who have combined for 20 touchdowns.
At first glance, the Bears defense looks like a unit that has struggled this season, allowing 408 yards of offense per game. However, Central Arkansas has rebounded from a tough three-game stretch early in the season (132 points allowed against Louisiana Tech, Sam Houston State and Arkansas State). During the current eight-game winning streak, the defense has limited opponents to 22 points per contest.
Montana's defense has been even more impressive lately, limiting its past three opponents to just 27 points, which included potent offenses Weber State and Montana State. The Grizzlies have a solid linebacking corp and strong secondary, which has limited opponents to 321.5 yards per game.
This is Montana's 21st appearance in the FCS (Division I-AA) playoffs, and 18th in the last 19 seasons. The Griz have a 30-18 record in the playoffs and are 27-6 at home. To top it off, Montana boasts an impressive 17-1 home record in the playoffs in December.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana 31, Central Arkansas 23.
11/30 14:44:33 ET