FCS Second Round: New Hampshire-James Madison
FCS Playoffs Second Round
The Matchup - New Hampshire (8-4) at No. 4 seed James Madison (10-1)
Kickoff - 2 p.m. ET at Bridgeforth Stadium (24,877) in Harrisonburg, Virginia
Coverage - ESPN3
Series - Tied 8-8
Players to Watch - RB/KR Dalton Crossan (1,189 rushing yards, 145.8 all-purpose ypg, 12 TDs), CB/PR Casey DeAndrade (66 TT, 3 INTs, 10 PBU), DE Cam Shorey (40 TT, 10 TFL, 3 sacks); James Madison: QB Bryan Schor (156 of 213, 2,026 yards, 18 TDs, 3 INTs; 91 carries, 545 yards, 9 TDs), RB Khalid Abdullah (205 carries, 1,300 yards, 17 TDs), CB Taylor Reynolds (39 TT, 2 INTs, 8 PBU)
The Skinny - James Madison, the CAA Football champ, won the regular season meeting 42-39 on Oct. 15, and it had to hold on as New Hampshire scored the final 27 points of the fourth quarter. Wildcats quarterback Adam Riese led the rally off the bench and last week the lefty passed for a career-high 273 yards with four total touchdowns in a 64-21 playoff rout of Lehigh. All-purpose threat Crossan added 184 rushing yards with three TDs as the offense racked up a season-high 637 yards of total offense. Still, the offensive line allows too many sacks (33). On defense, UNH has scored seven TDs to lead all FCS teams. The Wildcats, who tied for second place in the CAA, are appearing in the playoffs for the 13th straight season under two-time Eddie Robinson Award winner Sean McDonnell. There is a lot of pressure on James Madison, which has lost its opening playoff game at home each of the past two seasons, although first-year coach Mike Houston was not a part of it. Schor, the CAA offensive player of the year, missed the final game and a half in the regular season with a non-throwing shoulder injury, but Houston seemingly signaled his return by tweeting a photo of Schor on the practice field last week. With the run setting up the pass, the Dukes rank second in the FCS in scoring offense (47.7 ppg) and third in total offense (522 ypg). Abdullah has gone over 100 rushing yards in nine of the last 10 games, but the exception was against New Hampshire (12 carries, 57 yards). The Dukes have great athleticism in the secondary with Reynolds and safety Raven Greene.
Up Next - The winner will play either Chattanooga (9-3) or No. 5 seed Sam Houston State (11-0) in the quarterfinals Dec. 9 or 10.
Prediction - The Dukes believe the fourth quarter up at Durham wasn't reflective of their tremendous season. They've been the best CAA team all season. James Madison, 35-28.