(16) Illinois State (8-3) at (7) Appalachian State (8-3)
The Sports Network
By Tim McDonnell, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 2:05 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kidd Brewer Stadium (24,050) -- Boone, North Carolina. Surface: FieldTurf. Television: ESPN3.com. Announcers: Ryan Rose, Rene' Ingoglia, Angela Mallen. Home Record: Illinois State 3-3; Appalachian State 4-2. Away Record: Illinois State 5-0; Appalachian State 4-1. Series Record: First Meeting. Conference: Illinois State - Missouri Valley; Appalachian State - Southern. Nicknames: Illinois State Redbirds; Appalachian State Mountaineers. Sports Network FCS Ranking: Illinois State (16); Appalachian State (7). NCAA Playoff Seedings: Illinois State (NS); Appalachian State (NS). Head Coaches: Illinois State - Brock Spack (4th season, 27-17 at Illinois State and overall); Appalachian State - Jerry Moore (24th season, 215-86 at Appalachian State, 31st season, 242-134-2 overall). Playoff Records: Illinois State (3-3); Appalachian State (24-16, 3 national championships, 2005-07). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Illinois State 3 (1998-99, 2006); Appalachian State 19 (1986-87, 89, 91-92, 94-95, 98-99, 2000-02, 05-11). Current Playoff Streak: Illinois State has lost its last two playoff games; Appalachian State has lost three of its last four playoff games.
GAME NOTES: Appalachian State will be looking to make a statement after its last two trips to the playoffs have ended in disappointing fashion. In 2010, the Mountaineers were outplayed versus Villanova, losing, 42-24. Last season, Maine went into Boone, N.C., and shocked ASU, running away with a 34-12 victory.
Perhaps the worst news for coach Jerry Moore's squad is that it has a 21-day break between games. The team had its bye week on Nov. 17 on top of receiving a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Despite falling to eventual No. 1 seed North Dakota State to end the regular season, Illinois State earned its first trip to the playoffs since 2006. The Redbirds have the ability to make some noise with Missouri Valley Conference offensive player of the year Matt Brown under center and first-team all- conference defensive end Colton Underwood.
Brown owns numerous Illinois State passing records, and in 11 games this season he's thrown for 2,676 yards and 20 touchdowns and averages 243 yards per game. Underwood leads a ISU defense which ranks second in the FCS in pass efficiency defense with a 98.09 rating. The senior has totaled 9.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in 11 games.
Appalachian State will need to get off to a fast start and quarterback Jamal Jackson can't try to do too much. He has plenty of playmakers like Steven Miller (1,307 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns), Sean Price (68 receptions, 1,029 yards, eight touchdowns) and Andrew Peacock (68 receptions, 716 yards, three touchdowns) who can do a lot of damage with the ball in their hands.
MVFC teams are 3-13 versus the Southern Conference in playoff contests, - ISU is 1-7 all-time against SoCon opponents - not to mention, ASU is 4-0 all-time against Valley teams and each victory has come in the playoffs.
Although the game will be in a very tough environment at "The Rock," Illinois State shouldn't be overwhelmed because the team is 5-0 on the road this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Appalachian St. 38, Illinois St. 35 (OT).
11/28 18:37:16 ET