FCS Second Round: Chattanooga-Sam Houston State
FCS Playoffs Second Round
The Matchup - Chattanooga (9-3) at No. 5 seed Sam Houston State (11-0)
Kickoff - 3 p.m. ET at Bowers Stadium (12,593) in Huntsville, Texas
Coverage - ESPN3
Series - First meeting
Players to Watch - Chattanooga: QB Alejandro Bennifield (172 of 262, 2,173 yards, 23 TDs, 7 INTs; 87 carries, 262 yards, 5 TDs), RB Derrick Craine (134 carries, 808 yards, 9 TDs), DE Keionta Davis (39 TT, 8.5 sacks, 6 QB hurries); Sam Houston State: QB Jeremiah Briscoe (282 of 419, 4,096 yards, 52 TDs, 7 INTs), WR Yedidiah Louis (65 receptions, 977 yards, 11 TDs), DE P.J. Hall (45 TT, 21 TFL, 9.5 sacks)
The Skinny - Sam Houston State is the top-ranked team in the STATS FCS Top 25. Chattanooga has twice beaten a No. 1, but both times at home - 21-14 over Furman in 1984 and 33-31 over Marshall in 1993. The subplot is Sam Houston has the No. 2 passing offense (387 ppg) and No. 1 scoring offense (54.2 ppg) in the FCS and Chattanooga is No. 1 against the pass (147.2 ypg). It's been 50 years since the Mocs last played in Texas. The Southern Conference squad will arrive off a 45-14 demolition of Weber State in the first round of the playoffs. Bennifield, a mobile left-hander, is an efficient signal caller and works with underrated receivers, but the Mocs are at their best when Craine and the offensive line are commanding a physical run game. Despite their ability to defend the pass, the Mocs have only five interceptions. They will try to stop Briscoe, who leads the nation in passing yards and is four touchdown passes shy of the FCS single-season record of 56. He's been invited to the announcement of the 2016 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award. The Southland Conference champion Bearkats have overwhelmed opponents with a 379-93 scoring advantage in the first half of games. It's not all offense as they placed Hall, who's invited to the announcement of the 2016 STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award, LB Justin Johnson and CB Darion Flowers on the All-Southland first team. Their return game also is adept at flipping field position on their opponents.
Up Next - The winner will play either New Hampshire (8-4) or No. 4 seed James Madison (10-1) in the quarterfinals Dec. 9 or 10.
Prediction - It may not be the Bearkats' usual offensive explosion, but their speed will still be too much for the Mocs. Sam Houston State 38-27.