Football Championship Subdivision Quarterfinals
North Dakota St Bison at Eastern Washington Eagles, Woodward Stadium, Cheney, WA
Saturday, December 11, 2010, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN Gameplan
Opening Line: EWU -5 1/2
Current Line: EWU -5 1/2
Opening Total: 44 1/2
Current Total: 45 1/2
Money Line: EWU -230 / NDSU +190
The 9-4 North Dakota St Bison travel to Eastern Washington to take on the #5 seeded Eagles. North Dakota St had to play an opening round game at home vs Robert Morris. The Bison rumbled to a 43-17 victory, and then played at the #4 seed Montana St. North Dakota St upset the Bobcats 42-17. Eastern Washington won last week against Southeast Missouri St 37-17. The winner of this game will take on the winner of Villanova and Appalachian St in the semi-finals. Though this game is only televised on the ESPN Gameplan pay-per-view package, viewers might find this game interesting from a visual standpoint. Earlier this year, Eastern Washington installed red turf much like Boise St’s trademark blue turf.
North Dakota St started off the season with a 6-3 victory at Big 12 team Kansas. They have four losses on the season to Northern Iowa, Western Illinois, Illinois St, and Missouri St by a total of 32 points. They finished third in the Missouri Valley Conference behind Northern Iowa and Western Illinois. They are outscoring opponents 25-17 on the year. The Bison average 328 yards a game on offense, with 173 yards rushing per game. They give up 360 yards a game on offense, including 167 yards rushing per game. The Bison have forced 32 turnovers on the year and have a turnover margin of +13. They have forced 33 sacks on the year and allowed 31 of their own. They do stuggle converting on 3rd down as they only have a 30% success rate. They have missed 8 of 21 field goal attempts on the season and give up more than 65 yards a game in penalties. The offense is inconsistent but has been clicking on all cylinders during the FCS playoffs. They have scored more than 40 points in their last two games. The Bison ran all over Montana St racking up 376 yards rushing and 6 rushing touchdowns in the blowout victory. Montana St took a 17-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, but then the Bison scored 28 unanswered points to win 42-17. Jose Mohler takes most of the snaps at quarterback, but Brock Jensen takes a few snaps a game as well. Mohler has thrown for 1,181 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. Mohler also has 2 rushing touchdowns on the year. Jensen might be a better athlete as he has thrown for 822 yards, 6 touchdowns, and only 1 interception. Jensen also has 4 rushing touchdowns. D.J. McNorton is the leading rusher with 251 carries, 1,435 yards, and 14 touchdowns. He also has 3 receiving touchdowns. Warren Holloway is the leading receiver with 48 catches, 675 yards, and 5 touchdowns.
Eastern Washington is 10-2 on the year and has losses at Nevada 49-24 and at Montana St 30-7. The Eagles finished tied with Montana St in the Big Sky Conference, but Montana St held the tiebreaker due to the head to head win. Montana St also got the #4 seed in the tournament because of the win and Eastern Washington dropped to the 5 seed. The Eagles are outscoring teams 31-24 on the season. The Eagles average 404 yards a game on offense including 164 yards rushing per game. They allow 394 yards on defense with 131 yards rushing per game. They have forced 37 turnovers on the season and have a turnover margin of +10. The Eagles have forced 23 sacks and allowed 17 on the season. The Eagles have missed 7 out og 16 field goal attempts on the year. The Quarterback is Bo Levi Mitchell. He has thrown for jsut over 2,700 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. The top receiver is Brandon Kaufman who has 59 catches, 959 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Taiwan Jones is the leading rusher with 201 carries for 1,512 yards, and 13 touchdowns. Jones also has three touchdown catches out of the backfield. Jesse Hoffman has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, and has a return average of 30 yards, so North Dakota St would be wise not to kick to him.
During the course of the season, you would look at these two teams and say Eastern Washington was the superior side. However these two teams have one common opponent, Montana St. Eastern Washington lost by 23, North Dakota St won by 25. Both of those games were played at Montana St. Granted North Dakota had a season high in rushing and Montana St turned the ball over 4 times. The Bison have rushed for over 250 yards in each of their two playoff games and have two blowout victories to show for it. This is compared to the 42 yards rushing the Bison put up against Missouri St in a 3-0 loss in the season finale. If North Dakota St can rush for over 200 ayrds a gain they will be difficult if not impossible to beat, but the offense is very hit and miss.
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