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The Sports Network
By Brandon Lawrence, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 1 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Oliver C. Dawson Bulldog Stadium (22,000) -- Orangeburg, South Carolina. Surface: Poly Turf. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Furman 4-1; South Carolina State 5-1. Away Record: Furman 3-4; South Carolina State 3-2. Neutral Record: Furman 0-0; South Carolina State 1-0. Series Record: Furman (10-4). Last Meeting: September 12, 1998 (Furman, 27-19 at Furman). Series Streak: Furman has won 10 of the last 12 meetings, but the teams have split the last four. Conference: Furman - Southern; South Carolina State - Mid- Eastern Athletic. Nicknames: Furman Paladins; South Carolina State Bulldogs. Sports Network FCS Ranking: Furman (NR); South Carolina State (25). NCAA Playoff Seedings: Furman (NS); South Carolina State (NS). Head Coaches: Furman - Bruce Fowler (third season, 16-18 at Furman and overall); South Carolina State - Oliver "Buddy" Pough (12th season, 97-42 at South Carolina State and overall). Playoff Records: Furman (17-14); South Carolina State (2-4). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Furman 15 (1982-83, 1985-86, 1988-90, 1996, 1999-2002, 2004-06 - FCS Champions in 1988); South Carolina State 4 (1981-82, 2009-10). Current Playoff Streak: Furman has split its last six playoff games; South Carolina State has lost its last three playoff appearances.
GAME NOTES: South Carolina State represents the other chance the MEAC has at a playoff win, which would be the first since the 1999 season. But this isn't the first time the conference has had an at-large bid, and the Bulldogs themselves are no strangers to playoffs.
In 2010, Bethune-Cookman won the MEAC's automatic bid while South Carolina State received an at-large bid. Buddy Pough's Bulldogs have enjoyed one heck of a turnaround season, adding four wins to their 2012 total and earning a share of the MEAC title with B-CU.
A matchup with Furman, the Southern Conference's automatic bid recipient, at home could meet the right set of conditions for the first MEAC playoff win in 17 seasons. South Carolina State's change-of-pace offense is led by quarterbacks Richard Cue and Adrian Kollock. Cue, the more experienced passer, won't burn an opponent through the air, but his versatility in the passing game and running game keeps a defense on its toes.
Kollock is the runner. His four rushing touchdowns in the past two weeks has helped the Bulldogs immensely in the run game, which, from time to time, can be lacking. Typically anywhere from five to eight Bulldogs will record a carry in any given week.
But the Paladins have seen it all when it comes to opponents rushing the football. They play in a Southern Conference deeply involved in the run game, with talented rushers like those on Georgia Southern's roster, Marcus Cox from Appalachian State, Samford's Fabian Truss, and Wofford's and The Citadel's triple option attack.
Furman quarterback Reese Hannon has developed into a proficient passer and a standout leader. The Paladins, on the back off Hannon, moved into the postseason with a season-ending win over Wofford. Hannon threw for 326 yards and a touchdown in the victory.
Three of Furman's five losses this season have been by one score or less, and another came at the hands of FBS LSU. The Paladins didn't pick up their pace until the latter half of the season, but when they did, they were impressive. The train could very well keep rolling right through to Fargo for a matchup with top-seeded North Dakota State.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Furman 29, South Carolina State 20.
11/26 14:08:51 ET