(15) New Hampshire (10-4) at (1) North Dakota State (13-0)|
The Sports Network
By Brandon Lawrence, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 20, 8 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome (18,700) -- Fargo,
North Dakota. Surface: AstroTurf GameDay Grass. Television: ESPN 2. Announcers:
Anish Shroff, Kelly Stouffer, Cara Capuano. Home Record: New Hampshire 6-0;
North Dakota State 8-0. Away Record: New Hampshire 4-4; North Dakota State 5-0.
Series Record: First meeting. Conference: New Hampshire - Colonial Athletic
Association; North Dakota State - Missouri Valley. Nicknames: New Hampshire
Wildcats; North Dakota State Bison. Sports Network FCS Ranking: New Hampshire
(15); North Dakota State (1). NCAA Playoff Seedings: New Hampshire (NS); North
Dakota State (1). Head Coaches: New Hampshire - Sean McDonnell (15th season,
114-70 at New Hampshire and overall); North Dakota State - Craig Bohl (11th
season, 102-32 at North Dakota State and overall). Playoff Records: New
Hampshire (9-11); North Dakota State (12-1). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances:
New Hampshire 11 (1991, 94, 2004-12); North Dakota State 3 (2010-12 - FCS
Champions in 2011 and 2012). Current Playoff Streak: New Hampshire has won its
last three playoff games; North Dakota State has won its last 10 playoff games.
Current Win Streak: New Hampshire 6W; North Dakota State 13W. Record vs. 2013
Playoff Teams: New Hampshire (4-2); North Dakota State (3-0).
GAME NOTES: After last weekend's thrashing of Coastal Carolina, it would
appear North Dakota State is well on its way back to the national championship
game in Frisco, Texas. But surging New Hampshire may have a few statements to
make against the Bison in Fargo on Friday night.
It's the first-ever meeting between New Hampshire and North Dakota State, and,
judging by the way the Bison are playing this postseason, it's a bad time for
any opponent to come to Fargo to challenge the back-to-back national
In two postseason games at the Fargodome in 2013, North Dakota State has
outscored its opponents 86-21, which includes the most recent pounding over
the Chanticleers, who entered last weekend's playoff matchup as the third-best
scoring offense in the FCS at 42.9 points per game.
Coastal Carolina tailback Lorenzo Taliaferro, the nation's third-leading
rusher in terms of yards (1,729), was held to just 53 on 11 carries, including
a second-quarter touchdown. The explosive Chants offense only mustered 281
yards against a stifling defense in front of the raucous home Bison crowd. Oh,
and North Dakota State has won 22 consecutive games dating back to Oct. 13,
2012. There's that to contend with.
Fortunately for New Hampshire, the Wildcats haven't exactly minded taking on
higher-ranked opponents, not only in the playoffs but in the regular season as
New Hampshire is 5-2 this season against nationally ranked teams, and has won
each of its five previous matchups with those ranked squads. That includes two
wins over Maine (the fifth seed in the FCS playoffs) and Southeastern
Louisiana last weekend (the fourth seed).
Wildcats quarterback Sean Goldrich carried the team in its win over the Lions
in Hammond, La., last weekend. His three rushing touchdowns, including one with
47 seconds to play in the contest that gave the Wildcats the win, doubled his
previous season total of rushing scores. Goldrich has thrown and rushed for a
combined eight touchdowns in three postseason games.
It's the first time in program history the Wildcats have won multiple playoff
games in a season, the first time they've defeated a conference opponent in the
postseason, and the team's first trip to a national semifinal game. Since it's
the first time these two teams have met - and "firsts" haven't been an issue
for New Hampshire this season - wouldn't it seem fitting for the Wildcats to
hand the Bison their first loss in over a year?
But it's not just North Dakota State's defense the Wildcats need to be
concerned with. The Bison put up 623 yards on offense against Coastal in the
quarterfinals, which is the most for the team since 2007. That included seven
players combining for 424 rushing yards - the most in 17 years.
Quarterback Brock Jensen is as efficient as they come, and has already gone
down as the winningest signal caller in FCS history. When it's all said and
done, he could very well be the first quarterback to start for three straight
national championship teams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 31, New Hampshire 21.
12/18 13:25:31 ET