National Notes Week 12
Kevin Marshall, National Contributor | November 19, 2015
The State of the Nation
Last week saw a bit of clarity in the potential playoff participants but the scene is still quite muddy. The Selection Committee has its work cut out for them and I do not envy those in that room. There are many worthy teams but only 24 slots. Here’s to hoping you all get good news on Sunday!
Jacksonville State won their 16th consecutive Ohio Valley Conference game and junior receiver Josh Barge became the Gamecocks all time reception leader in JSU’s 56-28 victory over Southeast Missouri State. The Gamecock offense piled up 617 yards of total offense. This Jacksonville State team looks to be a tough out for anyone come playoff time.
North Dakota State continued to play well on the offensive side of the ball. The Bison offense tallied 500 yards of total offense for the third consecutive week. The Bison defense was solid as well holding Youngstown State to just 205 total yards with just 33 of those coming on the ground. NDSU won the game 27-24. Penguin Coach Bo Pelini really hurt his team, and any chance they had to go down the field and tie the game, with a sideline tirade against the officials. Pelini was reprimanded by the Missouri Valley Football Conference for his ungentlemanly outbursts.
South Dakota gave South Dakota State all they wanted and a whole lot more before falling late to the Jackrabbits. SDSU trailed by ten points in the final stanza but reserve quarterback Zach Lujan and receiver Jake Wieneke hooked up on some big plays and got them back into the game. Nick Farina tacked on a pick six to make the final 30-23 in favor of the Jackrabbits.
William & Mary won their sixth consecutive game whipping the Towson Tigers 31-17. Jimmye Laycock and his boys clinched at least a share of the CAA title with the victory. The Tribe put up 31 points but their defense has been the story for me. That unit is giving up just 17.8 points per game.
Andy Talley has done the best coaching job of his illustrious career this season. Villanova, who is just decimated with injuries to their best players, is right in the thick of the race for the CAA championship. Homecoming weekend was a happy one for the Wildcats. Villanova scored on a fourth down play with under a minute remaining to rally past Richmond 21-20. James Madison must seem like it was a lifetime ago for the Spiders.
Portland State survived Southern Utah 24-23. The Thunderbirds played well but the Vikings were just a little better. PSU won the game with defense, which is how SUU usually wins, and the three interceptions of Olsen were huge momentum changers in the contest.
Congratulations to the Chattanooga Mocs for earning the automatic bid from the Southern Conference. The Mocs beat The Citadel 31-23 to punch their ticket. The Cadets had to play their best game of the season to beat Chattanooga and instead the Mocs did. Both teams have identical 6-1 records in the SoCon and The Citadel is at the mercy of the selection committee. Whatever they decide this has been an excellent season for the Bulldogs.
Eastern Washington turned the ball over seven times and got destroyed by the Montana Grizzlies. The return of Griz quarterback Brady Gustafson was huge for Montana. His steady presence in the huddle and in the pocket was obvious to all who saw the game. The Griz defense was outstanding again led by Tyrone Holmes. Griz kicker Dan Sullivan knocked three field goals through for Montana.
The Central Arkansas Bears used a dominant rushing attack to run out ahead of Nicholls State and survived a furious comeback attempt to defeat Nicholls 34-31. The Bears ground game was paced by Blake Veasley’s 141 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Hayden Hildebrand made the safe throws and managed the game well for UCA. Hildebrand was 12-18 for 109 yards and a touchdown. Nicholls State quarterback Landry Klann was 30-47 for 368 yards and four touchdowns.
The Patriot League crown belongs to Colgate. The Red Raiders ran all over Lehigh with Demetrius Russell and quarterback Jake Melville combining for 273 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Mr. Bob Bonner, owner of the Torrey Pines Pub in Las Vegas, joins us to discuss the largest Griz-Cat gathering on the planet (outside of the actual game anyway) which takes place each year in his establishment.
Lance Berndt and I sit down and discuss the playoff situation as well. Tune in and be the smartest person at your tailgate this week.
Portland State @ Eastern Washington
The Eagles find themselves having to win this one against the Vikings to make the field of 24. Eastern must not help the Vikings with turnovers, as they did for Montana last week, to have any chance in this one. The Vikings defense won it for them last week and I think they will do it again. PSU 31-27.
Northern Arizona @ Southern Utah
I really like this Thunderbird team and I think Ed Lamb is one of the better coaches in the FCS. I will be very impressed if the T-Birds can win at home over this high octane Lumberjack offense. I don’t think they will. NAU 38-31.
Villanova @ James Madison
What a matchup this could have been if Vad Lee and John Robertson were healthy. Both are gone for the season and this is a battle of the backup quarterbacks. The Dukes have the better athletes but Villanova has the edge when it comes to coaching. I think the athletes get it done. Dukes 24-20.
William & Mary @ Richmond “AGS Game of the Week”
This is the 125th meeting between these two fine academic schools located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This is the oldest rivalry in the South. The Richmond Spiders come into this one on seven legs and the Tribe are streaking. Tribe 31-17.
Southern Illinois @ Northern Iowa
The Panthers have found enough offense, behind Aaron Bailey at quarterback, to go along with a fine defense and should win this one. UNI needs this one to make the playoffs. I think they will get it. Panthers 28-20.
Sam Houston State @ Central Arkansas
The Bears running game will pound the Bearkats early and wear them out in the fourth quarter. I think this one will be close but Central Arkansas pulls away late. UCA 27-17.
McNeese State @ Lamar
Daniel Sams has done it all for McNeese in 2015. His strong leadership and a stout Cowboy defense will be the difference in this one. McNeese State 31-27.
Bucknell @ Colgate
Colgate finishes strong and awaits their first round playoff opponent. Red Raiders 21-10.
Montana @ Montana State “The Brawl of the Wild”
Both of these teams can get up and down the field and score. That is where the similarities end. The Bobcats have been unable to stop anyone all year, save Idaho State last week, and the Griz have one of the better defenses in the FCS. I think the Griz make enough plays on offense and get the stops of Dakota Prukop they have to have and will win. Griz 34-24.