Running Wild: Wofford running back Eric Breitenstein leads the nation in rushing with 158 yards per game. The senior is the FCS active leader in career rushing yards (5,595) and touchdowns (65). He is only 27 yards from fifth-place on the FCS all-time rushing yards list and one touchdown away from third on that all-time list. It should be an interesting test against North Dakota State as the Bison are first in the nation in rushing defense, allowing only 63 yards per game.
Home or the Road: Saturday’s game between Illinois State (6-0 on the road) and Eastern Washington (6-0 at home) is a rare matchup. Only twice previously since 1996 has a team gone 6-0 on the road and then faced a perfect opponent in the FCS playoffs. In 2004, New Hampshire (8-0 on the road) played at Montana (8-0 at home), with the Grizzlies winning 47-17 in the quarterfinals. In 1999, Colgate (6-0 on the road) lost at Illinois State (5-0 at home), 56-13 in a first-round contest.
Simply the Best: North Dakota State’s record in the past two seasons (25-2, .926) is unmatched by any other FCS or FBS program. Alabama (23-2) and LSU (23-2) are tied for second. MVFC member Illinois State is tied for 48th on that list (and 17th best in just the FCS), as the Redbirds have gone 16-7 in 2011 and 2012 combined.
League Dominance: Four leagues have dominated the playoffs (110 of 125 total wins from those four leagues) since 2005. The MVFC’s .608 winning percentage is second best.
In the Playoffs (Since 2005)
Southern 27-15 .643
Missouri Valley 25-16 .608
Colonial 38-28 .576
Big Sky 20-15 .571
Southland 8-11 .421
Big South 3-5 .375
Great West 1-2 .333
Northeast 1-3 .250
Patriot 2-9 .182
MEAC 0-9 .000
Ohio Valley 0-12 .000
We Meet Again: Sam Houston State travels to face Montana State in a series it leads 3-2. This is the second consecutive season the teams have met in the quarterfinals. Sam Houston State beat Montana State 49-13 in the 2011 quarterfinals in Huntsville. The teams have met four times in the regular season, with both teams winning two games. Sam Houston State beat Montana State 23-6 in 1986 in Huntsville. Montana State won 52-48 in 1987 in Bozeman. Montana State won 15-10 in 1989 on the road. Sam Houston State won 26-23 in Bozeman in 1991.
Eastern in the Quarters: Eastern Washington is making its sixth quarterfinal appearance. The Eagles are 2-3 in quarterfinal games. In 1997, EWU beat Western Kentucky 38-21 at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane. In 2004, the Eagles fell 35-34 at Roos Field (then Woodward Field) to Sam Houston State. In 2010, the Eagles beat North Dakota State at Roos Field 38-31 in overtime. EWU also lost in the quarterfinal in 1985 on the road at Northern Iowa and in 2007 at Appalachian State.
Looking for Lucky Number Seven: Georgia Southern, who heads to Old Dominion Saturday, has won the FCS national title six times in school history with the most recent title coming in 2000. Since that time they have reached the national semifinals four times, including both of the last two seasons, but they have not advanced to the championship game in that timeframe.
Setting New Tracks: Old Dominion is making its first appearance in the quarterfinals. The Monarchs enter the game as perhaps the most prolific offense in FCS. ODU leads the nation in scoring offense at 46 points per game, passing offense with 391 yards per game and total offense with 549 yards per game. Old Dominion has scored more than 30 points in every game but one this season, and in fact, has scored more than 50 points five times.
Receiving Combo: Eastern Washington wide receivers Nicholas Edwards and Brandon Kaufman are among the all-time leaders in school and conference history in receptions. Edwards has 213 career receptions, which ranks eighth in Big Sky history, while Kaufman enters Saturday with 203 career receptions. He needs three more to move into a tie for 10th on the Big Sky’s all-time list. Kaufman has 1,444 receiving yards, and is just 81 yards shy of the Big Sky single-season record of 1,525 set by Weber State’s Tim Toone in 2008.
Doing it with Defense: North Dakota State has only allowed 30 points in its last five NCAA FCS playoff games (14 vs. James Madison, 0 vs. Lehigh, 7 vs. Georgia Southern, 6 vs. Sam Houston State, 3 vs. South Dakota State) for an scoring defense of 6.0 points per game. They face Wofford Saturday who has scored an average of 30 points a game this season, including 82 in one game against Lincoln (Pa.).
Redbird Facts: Of its four trips to the FCS tournament, this is the third time Illinois State finds itself in at least the quarterfinals. In 1999 they made it all the way to the semifinals, while in 2006 they were tripped up in the quarters. Illinois State won its only previous meeting with Eastern Washington, 31-14 in 1987 at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane. The Eagles started the game with a school-record 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Dominic Corr, but the Redbirds were able to sack EWU quarterbacks six times, leading to a minus 26 yards of rushing for EWU. Illinois State out-gained EWU in total offense 462-214.
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