(11) Coastal Carolina (12-2) at (1) North Dakota State (12-0)
The Sports Network
By Brandon Lawrence, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 7, 12 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gate City Bank Filed at the Fargodome (18,700) -- Fargo, North Dakota. Surface: AstroTurf GameDay Grass. Television: ESPN. Announcers: Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Cara Capuano. Home Record: Coastal Carolina 7-0; North Dakota State 7-0. Away Record: Coastal Carolina 5-2; North Dakota State 5-0. Series Record: First meeting. Conference: Coastal Carolina - Big South; North Dakota State - Missouri Valley. Nicknames: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers; North Dakota State Bison. Sports Network FCS Ranking: Coastal Carolina (11); North Dakota State (1). NCAA Playoff Seedings: Coastal Carolina (NS); North Dakota State (1). Head Coaches: Coastal Carolina - Joe Moglia (second season, 20-7 at Coastal Carolina and overall); North Dakota State - Craig Bohl (11th season, 101-32 at North Dakota State and overall). Playoff Records: Coastal Carolina (3-3); North Dakota State (11-1). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Coastal Carolina 3 (2006, 2010, 2012); North Dakota State 3 (2010-12 - FCS Champions in 2011 and 2012). Current Playoff Streak: Coastal Carolina has won its last two playoff games; North Dakota State has won its last nine playoff games.
GAME NOTES: Some people say it's the slow knife that cuts the deepest.
In the second round of the FCS playoffs, two teams were at polar opposites when it comes to belief of that saying. North Dakota State and Furman were scoreless after one quarter of play, and the Bison held a 10-7 lead when the teams headed to the locker room at halftime.
Then the Bison came out firing, and dominated the second 30 minutes of football against the Paladins, scoring four unanswered touchdowns and winning handedly, 38-7, in their first playoff contest of 2013.
Then there's Montana. The Grizzlies allowed Coastal Carolina to enter Washington-Grizzly Stadium in single-digit temperatures and take a three- touchdown lead twice, including a 42-21 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Any last-ditch efforts at a comeback, although valiantly attempted by quarterback Jordan Johnson and the Grizzlies offense in the final period, came up short, and the Chanticleers advanced past Montana, 42-35. Perhaps the Grizzlies waited too long to strike.
North Dakota State must operate the remainder of the playoffs knowing coach Craig Bohl and a sizeable chunk of his coaching staff won't be around next season. Bohl accepted the University of Wyoming coaching position late last week, but will remain on the sidelines for the Bison until their playoff run is over.
Although Coastal Carolina is unseeded this postseason and comes from the Big South Conference - not one considered to be a "power conference" in the FCS - the Chanticleers have done everything right in proving they belong in the quarterfinals.
The Chants are among the FCS leaders in scoring offense (42.9 points per game), led by sophomore quarterback Alex Ross and senior running back Lorenzo Taliaferro. Both were on point against Montana, as Ross threw for 202 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 123 yards, and Taliaferro gained 104 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Not many teams this season have been able to slow the dynamic offensive duo. But the Bison are a different story when it comes to defense.
North Dakota State leads the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 11.2 points per game. In 12 games this season, the Bison have allowed just 15 opponents touchdowns - just over one per game on average. In a Missouri Valley Football Conference with some tough teams and explosive players, that's certainly a strong testament.
It's a unique matchup for North Dakota State, which is a team that has faced only one opponent this season averaging more than 30 points per game in Youngstown State. Coastal Carolina is a team built on outscoring its opposition.
Whether the Bison rally around the fact that this is Bohl's last postseason with the team or feel saddened by it, this team has too much talent for Coastal Carolina.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 35, Coastal Carolina 24.
12/10 12:36:01 ET