National Notes Week 15
Kevin Marshall, National Contributor | December 11, 2015
The State of the Nation
What a tremendous second round of the FCS Playoffs! Three of the seeded teams went down in defeat. If you can get into the field and get on a roll you can hoist the trophy in Frisco! I believe that is why our system is superior to the so called ‘College Football Playoff’.
#1 Jacksonville State Chattanooga 35 OT
Just another epic slugfest in the series between these two. Gamecock quarterback Eli Jenkins threw for 208 yards, pushing him past the 5,000 yard mark in his career, and he also ran for 195 yards and three touchdowns. Troymaine Pope ran for 234 yards, the second most in a single game in school history, and also scored three touchdowns. The Mocs fought back from a 14 point deficit late in the third quarter and took the lead 35-28 with around nine minutes remaining in the contest. Pope promptly tied it at 35 apiece with a 74 yard touchdown run off of right tackle. In the extra session Chattanooga quarterback Jacob Huesman was intercepted in the endzone. Jenkins then ended the Chattanooga season with a 14 yard game winning touchdown run to propel the Gamecocks to the final eight.
#2 Illinois State 36 Western Illinois 19
Western Illinois hung around a lot longer than the Redbirds and their faithful would have liked. ISU led 7-6 at the half but trailed 12-7 in the third quarter. The final stanza belonged to Brock Spack and his Redbirds. Illinois State outscored the Leathernecks 21-7 and that was the difference. The rushing attack of ISU continues to be impressive. ISU ran for 350 yards and Marshaun Coprich led them to the victory with 217 yards and two touchdowns.
#3 North Dakota State 37 Montana 6
North Dakota State dominated the Griz in all facets of this game. Emory Hunt likes to say that a “strong defense and a powerful running game is the recipe for success at any level” and the Bison have both of these. NDSU ran the ball for 250 yards and held Montana to just 6 rushing yards. NDSU possessed the ball for over 40 minutes. Montana Coach Bob Stitt doesn’t feel that time of possession is an important stat. He prefers to look at the number of plays run. It is hard to win when the quarterback throws interceptions and your opponent is running the ball as well as the Bison are right now.
Sam Houston State 34 McNeese State 29
McNeese State was hoping that their home misfortunes in the playoffs were over. Clearly they are not. Bearkat quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe passed for 313 yards and three touchdowns. In the first meeting between these two Southland Conference schools the Cowboys defense held Sam Houston out of the endzone. That defense was torched this time around for 494 total yards and 26 first downs. McNeese still had a chance to take the lead late in the game. The Cowboys looked to be in excellent position with a first-and-goal at the Bearkat 1 yard line. Sacks and penalties pushed them back to the 40 and they had to punt. They never saw the ball again. Sam Houston went on an 11 play drive to end the game and the McNeese season.
Colgate 44 #5 James Madison 38
Emory and I don’t always get our picks correct, he does better than I do, but we both picked this upset. Colgate quarterback Jake Melville threw two touchdowns and ran for two more. Red Raider running back James Holland ran for 165 yards and two more touchdowns. Melville and Holland are quite the tandem for Coach Dan Hunt’s Colgate team. The Red Raiders started fast and made the Dukes play catchup most of the day. This was the seventh consecutive win for Colgate. They are playing as well as anyone left in the field.
Northern Iowa 29 #6 Portland State 17
Northern Iowa really ground this win out. Tyvis Smith and Aaron Bailey both rushed for over 200 yards and the Panther offensive line was outstanding. Jared Farley had 12 tackles and a pick for the stifling Panther defense. Brett McMakin added 10 tackles and also had an interception. Portland State has nothing to hang their heads about. The Vikings had an excellent season. Viking Coach Bruce Barnum was named the National Coach of the Year this week. I expect great things from PSU in the coming years.
#7 Richmond William and Mary 13
The Oldest Rivalry in the South was no contest the second time around in 2015. Spider running back Jacobi Green ran for 141 yards and three touchdowns to lead Richmond to the victory. The ground game was solid for Richmond. David Broadus added 60 yards and a touchdown to Green’s effort and quarterback Kyle Lauletta ran for two additional scores. The Richmond defense was also excellent. David Jones had a 100 yard pick six which really seemed to take the fight out of the Tribe. William and Mary quarterback Steve Cluley was ineffective. Cluley threw for just 79 yards and three interceptions.
#8 Charleston Southern 14 The Citadel 6
A defensive struggle that went down to wire in the Holy City sent CSU to the third round. Mike Holloway ran for 120 yards and a pair of second quarter touchdowns for the Buccaneers. Turnovers were the difference, as they usually are, and The Citadel put the ball on the ground five times. The Cadets were held to just 267 total yards, 199 on the ground, after piling up 524 in the Bulldogs first round win over Coastal Carolina. CSU has not lost to an FCS opponent all season. Perspective is tough to have when you lose a chance to get to the final eight but for The Citadel any way you look at it 2015 was one hell of a year. Picked to finish seventh in an eight team Southern Conference and playing for the right to advance to the final eight in the nation, not to mention beating USC, is an admirable achievement.
The FCS Wedge welcomes back Mr. KC Keeler, Head Coach at Sam Houston State, to the show this week. Mr. Mark Farley, Head Coach at Northern Iowa, makes his first appearance with us. Thanks to both of these gentlemen for making the time in a very busy week to be with us.
Kris Kallem and Lance Berndt are with me this week to breakdown all of the Round Three games. These fellas bring stats galore and all you need to know about who is going to win and why.
#8 Charleston Southern @ #1 Jacksonville State
I like the Gamecocks in this one. The Buccaneers are seriously beat up at the quarterback position. Both of their top two signal callers are listed as doubtful for this game. The CSU defense will keep them in it but the offense can’t help them enough to win. Gamecocks 24-10.
#7 Richmond @ #2 Illinois State
This is a tough ballgame to pick. Each time I have left the Spiders eight legs up this season they have made me eat my words. The question for me is can Richmond stop the Redbird running game? Nobody else has been able to in 2015 but the Spiders may be that squad. If Richmond can contain Marshaun Coprich and make Tre Roberson beat them passing the ball they are capable of winning. It will be close but give me ISU 27-24.
Colgate @ Sam Houston State
The two headed monster for Colgate of quarterback James Melville and running back James Holland will be tough to stop. The Bearkat offense, led by Jeremiah Briscoe and Cory Avery, will also put up crooked numbers. This one comes down to the defenses and who can get off the field on third down. I expect the Bearkats to be more successful doing so. Sam Houston State 42-31.
Northern Iowa @ #3 North Dakota State
This matchup will feature two quarterbacks who were not on the field at the start of the season. Aaron Bailey, of UNI, really played well when inserted into the lineup in the second half of the regular season game between these two. Easton Stick, who did not play in the first meeting, will need his receivers to help him a bit more this week. Both defenses are excellent and points will be at a premium. I’ll take the Bison, in the Fargodome, 21-17.