(10) Stony Brook (10-2) at (2) Montana State (10-1)
The Sports Network
By Tim McDonnell, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 7 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bobcat Stadium (17,777) - Bozeman, Montana. Surface: FieldTurf. Television: ESPN3.com. Announcers: Peter Young, Corey Chavous. Home record: Stony Brook 7-0; Montana State 5-1. Away record: Stony Brook 3-2; Montana State 5-0. Conference: Stony Brook - Big South; Montana State - Big Sky. Nicknames: Stony Brook Seawolves; Montana State Bobcats. Series record: First meeting. Sports Network FCS Ranking: Stony Brook (10); Montana State (2). NCAA Playoff Seeding: Stony Brook (NS); Montana State (3). Head coaches: Stony Brook - Chuck Priore (7th season, 47-33 at Stony Brook; 86-42 overall); Montana State - Rob Ash (6th season, 49-21 at Montana State; 33rd season, 225-120-5 overall). FCS playoff records: Stony Brook 2-1; Montana State 5-5. Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Stony Brook 1 (2011); Montana State 6 (1984, 2002-03, 06, 10-11, National Champion in 1984). Current Playoff Streak: Stony Brook won its last playoff game; Montana State has lost three of its last four playoff games.
GAME NOTES: It's either really good or really bad news that Stony Brook proved just how solid its run game was in the team's 20-10 victory versus Villanova last week.
On the one hand, the Seawolves had no problem relying on stud running back Miguel Maysonet and his capable backup Marcus Coker, who combined for 54 carries for 160 and 107 yards, respectively. On the other hand, quarterback Lyle Negron, who replaced the FCS' leader in passing efficiency (quarterback Kyle Essington) completed just 3-of-6 passes for 37 yards.
Essington's status this week is still unknown, as he suffered a right thigh contusion in the regular-season finale, but there's no question. He makes a huge difference on offense when healthy.
Montana State's stout defense should be able to answer questions about whether SBU's run attack is indeed the real deal. The Bobcats defense ranks seventh in the FCS in against the run, allowing 96 yards per game and only 3.2 yards per carry. To put some numbers in perspective, Maysonet, a Walter Payton Award finalist, averages nearly 7.6 yards per carry in 12 games this season. He has scored 23 total touchdowns to share the FCS high.
MSU's offense should give Stony Brook plenty of problems as well. Quarterback DeNarius McGhee leads a unit which averages 36 points per game and the team's running attack has thrived in the second half of the season. Running back Cody Kirk averages 90 yards per game and has rushed for 815 yards and 13 touchdowns in just nine contests this season. Orenzo Davis, like Coker, is also a solid backup, rushing for seven touchdowns and 550 yards in 10 games.
Stony Brook has played in some tough environments this year, including games at Syracuse and Army, which will help this weekend in Bozeman. However, the Bobcats faithful will be out in full force in only the second true night game in Bobcat Stadium history.
The key to this contest could be third-down conversions. SBU ranks ninth in the FCS, converting 50.36 percent on third down, while Montana State ranks fifth in the FCS in defensive third-down efficiency, as opponents are converting just 28.83 percent of the time.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana State 33, Stony Brook 21.
11/28 18:38:44 ET