(12) Cal Poly (9-2) at (5) Sam Houston State (8-3)
The Sports Network
By Tim McDonnell, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 4 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Elliott T. Bowers Stadium (12,976) - Huntsville, Texas. Surface: RealGrass Pro. Television: ESPN3.com. Announcers: Jonathon Yardley, Forrest Conoly. Home record: Cal Poly 5-0; Sam Houston State 3-0. Road record: Cal Poly 4-2; Sam Houston State 4-3. Neutral record: Cal Poly 0-0; Sam Houston State 1-0. Conference: Cal Poly - Big Sky; Sam Houston State - Southland. Nicknames: Cal Poly Mustangs; Sam Houston State Bearkats. Sports Network FCS Rankings: Cal Poly (12); Sam Houston State (5). NCAA Playoff Seedings: Cal Poly (NS); Sam Houston State (NS). Series record: First meeting. Head Coaches: Cal Poly - Tim Walsh (4th season, 26-18 at Cal Poly; 22nd season, 143-100 overall); Sam Houston State - Willie Fritz (3rd season, 28-9 at Sam Houston; 19th season, 164-61-1 overall). Playoff records: Cal Poly (1-2); Sam Houston State (0-0). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Cal Poly 2 (2005, 08); Sam Houston State 5 (1986, 91, 2001, 04, 11). Current Playoff Streak: Cal Poly has lost its last two playoff games; Sam Houston State has won three of its last four playoffs games.
GAME NOTES: Sam Houston State and Cal Poly meet in a critical matchup between the Bearkats' third-ranked FCS rushing defense (76 yards per game) and the Mustangs' third-ranked FCS rushing offense (333 yards per game).
Southland Conference teams are 9-3 overall when playing home games versus the Big Sky Conference, while Big Sky teams are 0-4 all-time in the postseason at Sam Houston State.
The Bearkats have only played three home contests this season, this game being the fourth, which will help for a decent crowd. Plus, they are 5-0 all-time in playoff action at Bowers Stadium and 13-0 at home overall, dating back to the 2010 season.
SHSU has a wealth of experience and weapons. Running back Timothy Flanders has scored 17 touchdowns in 11 games and averages 104 rushing yards per contest. Receivers Trey Diller and Chance Nelson don't receive much of credit because of Flanders and quarterback Brian Bell share the limelight. They have accounted for 76 receptions, for 1,280 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games.
The Mustangs clearly like to set the tone on the ground with their triple option attack and slotback Deonte Williams leads the way with 1,458 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 11 games. Quarterback Andre Broadous is the general of the offense and he's accounted for 18 passing touchdowns and nine rushing touchdowns through the regular season.
In fact, few realize just how effective CP has been throwing the ball. The team ranks first in the FCS in passing efficiency with a 176.38 rating. Broadous has completed 78-of-133 passes and just three interceptions.
The Bearkats defense has been solid against the run through the regular season, but even more telling? Against FCS competition this season, SHSU has allowed one rushing touchdown. Only one FCS team, Southeastern Louisiana, managed to cross the 100-yard rushing mark and they lost that game, 70-0. The only time SHSU has been hurt against the run was against FBS foes Baylor (232 yards) and Texas A&M (157 yards).
Cal Poly, however, has scored 36 rushing touchdowns in 11 games and averages nearly 5.3 yards per carry. The team will need to get close to that average in order to have any shot for a victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Sam Houston State 40, Cal Poly 30.
11/28 18:34:52 ET