FCS Second Round: San Diego-North Dakota State
FCS Playoffs Second Round
The Matchup - San Diego (10-1) at No. 1 seed North Dakota State (10-1)
Kickoff - 3:30 p.m. ET at the Fargodome (19,000) in Fargo, North Dakota
Coverage - ESPN3
Series - First meeting
Players to Watch - San Diego: QB Anthony Lawrence (223 of 326, 2,811 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INTs), RB Jonah Hodges (1,361 rushing yards, 176.6 all-purpose ypg, 20 TDs), LB Jon Petersen (20.5 TFL, 11.5 sacks, 13 QB hurries); North Dakota State: QB Easton Stick (126 of 209, 1,719 yards, 15 TDs, 8 INTs; 84 carries, 482 yards, 5 TDs); LG Zack Johnson; SS Robbie Grimsley (70 TT, 4 INTs)
The Skinny - The visiting Toreros power into the second-round matchup off their first-ever FCS playoff win by a Pioneer Football League team (35-21 at Cal Poly). They've taken a page out of North Dakota State's playbook with an average time of possession of 35 minutes, 6 seconds and a defense allowing only 244.6 yards and 12.9 points per game - all FCS-leading averages. Hodges (35 carries, 171 yards, three touchdowns) was unstoppable against Cal Poly, but Lawrence is going to have to have a career game against the Bison. His favorite targets, WR Brian Riley and TE Ross Dwelley, have combined for 117 receptions, 1,752 receiving yards and 16 TD catches. The Toreros' sack differential is extraordinary - 30 for and only four against. The only other time NDSU has faced a PFL team, it was in the Bison's first Division I game in 2004 - a 52-0 shutout of Valparaiso. Since 2011, the five-time defending FCS champions have won 20 straight playoff games and haven't played outside the Fargodome (15 wins) leading into the championship game in Frisco, Texas. They will continually pound the run behind an offensive line that averages 6-foot-5 1/2, 312 pounds per starter, led by All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first-teamers Johnson (LG) and Landon Lechler (RT). Lance Dunn (756 yards, 4 TDs) has become the leading rusher with All-MVFC pick King Frazier (693 yards, 10 TDs) slowed by an ankle injury. Their vaunted defense has allowed only eight rushing TDs and is one of the nation's best at defending the red zone. LB Pierre Gee-Tucker has a sprained MCL.
Up Next - The winner will play either Villanova (9-3) or No. 8 seed South Dakota State (8-3) in the quarterfinals Dec. 9 or 10.
Prediction - Despite their ability to defend the run, the Toreros haven't faced an offensive line like North Dakota State's before. North Dakota State, 41-7.