(9) Fordham (12-1) at (5) Towson (10-2)
The Sports Network
By Brandon Lawrence, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 7, 1 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas Stadium (11,198) - Towson, Maryland. Surface: FieldTurf Revolution. Television: ESPN3.com. Announcers: Ryan Rose, K.C. Keeler. Home Record: Fordham 7-0; Towson 3-2. Away Record: Fordham 5-1; Towson 7-0. Series Record: Fordham (4-3). Last Meeting: November 22, 2003 (Fordham, 35-22 at Towson - FCS Playoffs). Series Streak: Fordham has won the last three meetings. Conference: Fordham - Patriot League; Towson - Colonial Athletic Associaton. Nicknames: Fordham Rams; Towson Tigers. Sports Network FCS Ranking: Fordham (9); Towson (5). NCAA Playoff Seedings: Fordham (NS); Towson (7). Head Coaches: Fordham - Joe Moorhead (second season, 18-6 at Fordham and overall); Towson - Rob Ambrose (fifth season, 29-28 at Towson and overall). Playoff Records: Fordham (2-2); Towson (0-1). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Fordham 2 (2002, 2007); Towson 1 (2011). Current Playoff Streak: Fordham has split its four playoff games; Towson lost its only previous playoff game.
GAME NOTES: We'll call this the bottom half of the FCS playoff bracket, with Towson, Fordham, Eastern Washington and Eastern Illinois set to (potentially) meet before or at the national semifinals. Please don't take that the wrong way, it's just a geographical assignment for the purpose of clarity.
The "bottom half" of the bracket is loaded with offensive talent, and we get to see a perfect example of that statement in physical form as Fordham travels to face CAA at-large bid recipient Towson Saturday. Two solid Walter Payton Award candidates meet up in this matchup in Michael Nebrich and Terrance West.
Nebrich led Fordham over Sacred Heart, 37-27, in the first round last Saturday with 413 passing yards, three touchdowns and a rushing score. He and backfield mate Carlton Koonce hooked up for a 3-yard touchdown connection near the end of the second quarter to help down the Pioneers. Nebrich's 413 was one passing yard shy of Sacred Heart's 414 total offensive yardage.
Although Sacred Heart had an exceptional season, Fordham was a pretty daunting task for a Northeast Conference program to handle, especially in the first round. And as we continue to move forward through the year, it seems more and more likely that Nebrich is the common denominator to Fordham's success (the only loss the Rams suffered during the season was when Nebrich sat out due to an ankle injury).
Thankfully for Fordham, he will be playing yet again. And he'll be needed, because West and the rest of Towson's offense has only been contained once this season (15 points in a win over William & Mary) and outdueled twice (losses to Villanova and Delaware).
West has been a monster this season, recording 31 total touchdowns (30 rushing) and 1,875 rushing yards, which led all FCS players in the regular season. He was surpassed by South Dakota State's Zach Zenner for most rushing yards in the nation last weekend.
It seems likely that, with just 125 more yards to go before he hits the 2,000- yard mark for the season, he'll be able to obtain that feat this weekend, especially considering the Rams let Sacred Heart's Keshaudas Spence run loose for 194 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The first game of the second round should be an exciting one, increasingly so if you're a fan of plenty of offense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Towson 38, Fordham 31.
12/04 13:58:37 ET