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The Sports Network
By Brandon Lawrence, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 7, 8 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Strawberry Stadium (7,408) -- Hammond, Louisiana. Surface: Artificial Turf. Television: ESPN3.com. Announcers: Roy Philpott, Forest Conoly. Home Record: Sam Houston State 8-0; Southeastern Louisiana 6-0. Away Record: Sam Houston State 0-4; Southeastern Louisiana 4-2. Neutral Record: Sam Houston State 1-0; Southeastern Louisiana 0-0. Series Record: Sam Houston State (10-5). Last Meeting: November 16, 2013 (Southeastern Louisiana, 34-21 at Southeastern Louisiana). Series Streak: Sam Houston State has won three of the last four meetings. Conference: Sam Houston State - Southland; Southeastern Louisiana - Southland. Nicknames: Sam Houston State Bearkats; Southeastern Louisiana Lions. Sports Network FCS Ranking: Sam Houston State (14); Southeastern Louisiana (7). NCAA Playoff Seedings: Sam Houston State (NS); Southeastern Louisiana (4). Head Coaches: Sam Houston State - Willie Fritz (third season, 40-14 at Sam Houston State; 19th season, 176-66-1 overall); Southeastern Louisiana - Ron Roberts (second season, 15-8 at Southeastern Louisiana; seventh season - 62-24 overall). Playoff Records: Sam Houston State (10-6); Southeastern Louisiana (0-0). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Sam Houston State 6 (1986, 1991, 2001, 2004, 2011-12); Southeastern Louisiana 0. Current Playoff Streak: Sam Houston State has won seven of its last nine playoff games; Southeastern Louisiana is making its first playoff appearance.
GAME NOTES: The final game of the day Saturday will be the third contest in which two conference opponents met in the second round. It will also be the third game Saturday that features a rematch of two teams that met during the regular season.
Southeastern Louisiana and Sam Houston State met three weeks ago in Hammond, La., where the Lions beat the Bearkats, 34-21, handing them their third loss of the season. Now one Southland Conference team will end the other's season.
If history was bound to repeat itself, this would be an easy prediction to make. But with a playoff-seasoned team like Sam Houston State going against a Lions team playing its first-ever postseason contest, the factors and variables become ever so intricate. Last weekend's Bearkats win over Southern Utah proved that.
The Bearkats played just four road games this season and lost every one of them, including the 13-point defeat by Southeastern. But against the Thunderbirds a week ago, Sam Houston State took its run game back up a notch, gaining 355 yards on the ground, which included 176 and two scores from Timothy Flanders. Keshawn Hill also went over the 100-yard mark and scored two touchdowns.
In a search for a third straight appearance in the national title game (hoping for a win this time), four-year starting quarterback Brian Bell completed 15- of-21 pass attempts Saturday for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Should Sam Houston State make it past SELU and the winner of Maine/New Hampshire, the top overall seed North Dakota State, whom the Bearkats have lost twice to in the championship game, could be waiting.
That's if quarterback Bryan Bennett and the rest of the Lions squad doesn't put an end the a possible Bearkats run first.
Bennett, who finished eighth in the Walter Payton Award voting, was fourth among FCS quarterbacks with 14 rushing touchdowns this season - a Southland Conference record. The Oregon transfer also completed 171-of-275 pass attempts this season for 2,610 yards and 18 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
In the previous meeting between these two teams, the Lions forced the Bearkats to commit three turnovers, and didn't allow Sam Houston to score a rushing touchdown. If the home Lions want to win again, the defense will have to focus on shutting down the run game as best it can.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southeastern Louisiana 31, Sam Houston St 28.
12/04 11:26:05 ET