FCS Playoffs Quarterfinal: Wofford-Youngstown State
FCS Playoffs Quarterfinal
The Matchup - Wofford (10-3) at Youngstown State (10-3)
Kickoff - 2 p.m. ET Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium (20,630) in Youngstown, Ohio
Coverage - ESPN3
Series - Youngstown State leads 1-0
Coaches - Wofford: Mike Ayers (197-135-1, 29 seasons; 208-156-2 overall); Youngstown State: Bo Pelini (15-9, two seasons; 82-36 overall)
Players to Watch - Wofford: FB Lorenzo Long (274 carries, 1,382 yards, 16 TDs), QB Brandon Goodson (41 of 87, 628 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs; 74 carries, 347 yards, 2 TDs), LB Datavious Wilson (92 TT, 6 TFL, 1 safety), DE Tyler Vaughn (52 TT, 16.5 TFL, 8 sacks), S Jaleel Green (64 TT, 6.5 TFL, 5 INTs, 5 PBU), CB Devin Watson (43 TT, 3 INTs, 10 PBU); Youngstown State: RB Martin Ruiz (208 carries, 1,149 yards, 12 TDs), Jody Webb (157 carries, 987 yards, 6 TDs), DE Derek Rivers (44 TT, 15.5 TFL, 12 sacks, 18 QB hurries), DE Avery Moss (42 TT, 10 sacks, 4 FF), FS LeRoy Alexander (63 TT, 4 INTs, 5 PBU)
The Skinny - The only prior meeting between these two teams occurred in 1996 - Youngstown State's 28-0 home victory over Wofford. The coaches are still around, Ayers on the Wofford sideline and Jim Tressel now the YSU president. Wofford is back in the national quarterfinals for the first time since 1999, having sent No. 6 The Citadel packing in a matchup of Southern Conference rivals last Saturday. Goodson was knocked out of the 17-3 win with an ankle injury, but freshman quarterback Joe Newman entered in the third quarter and did a solid job, even rushing for a go-ahead 36-yard touchdown. Their triple-option offense averages 278.3 rushing yards, slightly better than Youngstown State's 258.5 per game. Long will carry a heavy load, having rushed for 3,437 career yards. The Terriers defense has posted three shutouts and allowed seven or fewer points in two other games, with a season average of 16.1 points against (third-best in the FCS). They haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. Watson has been a postseason standout with three fourth-quarter interceptions, including a pick-six. Junior David Marvin is 16 of 21 on field goals, including two 57-yarders, and has averaged over 46 yards per punt. Youngstown State is coming off a 40-24 win at No. 3 seed Jacksonville State. The Penguins, four-time national champions in the 1990s, have only lost to an FBS opponent (West Virginia) and the two Missouri Valley Football Conference champions, South Dakota State and North Dakota State. Quarterback Hunter Wells, the 2015 starter, returned to being the starter on Oct. 29 and has solidified what had been an inconsistent position during the regular season. He averaged 29 yards on 10 completions against Wofford and has downfield threats in Darien Townsend and Damoun Patterson. But the Penguins want to run the ball first with their two-headed monster of Ruiz and Webb, who have combined for 7,206 rushing yards and 71 touchdowns in their careers. Their senior-led defense won't be adding much to their FCS-high 44 sacks, but the unit is built to stop the run as well. The Penguins have allowed only 3.6 yards per carry and 117.8 rushing yards per game. Like Wofford, YSU is excellent in the kicking game with PK Zak Kennedy and P Mark Schuler.
Up Next - The winner will play either Richmond (10-3) or No. 2 seed Eastern Washington (11-1) in the FCS semifinals on Dec. 16 or 17.
Prediction - The word was Youngstown State had one of the more talented teams in the MVFC, just one without a top-flight quarterback. Now Wells is even playing well for coach Bo Pelini. Youngstown State 27-19.