Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If this year's FCS playoffs have proved
anything, it's that North Dakota State and Sam Houston State are once again
the top teams who should play for the national title.
After all, the schools met in the 2011 FCS national title game, in which the
Bison outlasted the Bearkats, 17-6.
Just like last season, the statistics and numbers surrounding both teams,
simply never lie.
Sam Houston State and its high-powered offense survived a second-half comeback
versus Eastern Washington and racked up 418 rushing yards on the way to a
45-42 victory. The Bearkats seek deep revenge after the 2011 title defeat in
which they managed just 95 rushing yards and 115 passing yards and didn't
score an offensive touchdown.
Receivers Trey Diller, Richard Sincere and Chance Nelson should give the Bison
secondary, led by All-America cornerback Marcus Williams, plenty to worry
North Dakota State and its relentless steel wall of a defense lead the FCS
in just about every major defensive category. The extra time to prepare for
the Bearkats should help coach Craig Bohl and his staff, who are the masters
of second-half adjustments.
The Bison won't "wow" you offensively, but they will be extremely physical and
have the ability to grind out long, forceful scoring drives.
Either way, there's no question, whichever team comes out on top in Frisco,
Texas, on Jan. 5 will get there thanks to some type of numbers that never will
For all the promise in its teams, some things can never be ignored.
Whether it be scores, statistics or standout performances, the numbers never
Here are some important figures from Week 16 of the 2012 FCS season - the
national semifinals - that should not be overlooked:
In Sam Houston State's crazy semifinal victory at Eastern Washington, the
Bearkats rushed for 418 yards, but passed for only 85 yards. EWU totaled
523 yards of offense - most came in the second half - although the team
managed just 42 rushing yards.
At halftime, Sam Houston State led, 35-0, having totaled 292 rushing yards.
Eastern Washington managed just eight rushing yards and 0.6 yards per carry in
the first half.
Sam Houston State running back Timothy Flanders finished the game with 231
rushing yards on 34 carries and quarterback Brian Bell rushed for 59 yards and
scored two first-half touchdowns.
In Georgia Southern's 23-20 semifinal loss, the Eagles became the only team to
score an offensive touchdown versus North Dakota State in the Bison's three
playoff games. The last time the Bison gave up an offensive touchdown in the
playoffs also came against Georgia Southern on Dec. 17, 2011.
NDSU entered its contest Friday night having allowed just three rushing
touchdowns on the season. Georgia Southern, however, totaled two rushing
touchdowns and 271 rushing yards in the team's second straight defeat in the
FCS semifinals at the Fargodome.
One week after EWU quarterback Kyle Padron threw for a school-record six
touchdown passes in the national quarterback, his younger teammate, Vernon
Adams, accomplished that same feat in just one half Saturday. Overall, he
completed 14-of-26 passes for 364 yards and six touchdown strikes, but also
threw two interceptions.
Georgia Southern has now lost in the semifinals in three straight appearances,
although the Eagles have an all-time FCS playoff record of 45-13, which is the
best in the FCS. In its last three semifinal contests, GSU has been outscored
52-17 in the second half.
North Dakota State enters the FCS national championship game with a 27-2
record over the last two years.
Sam Houston State also heads to the FCS national title game for the second
straight year and has a 25-4 record during that time.
Georgia Southern converted place-kicker Drew Ruggles, who is also a member of
the Eagles' soccer team, attempted the first field goal of his college
career, a 50-yard try which was blocked, in the semifinal defeat. Ruggles
registered three goals and four assists in 16 games this season on the
As a team, Georgia Southern finished the season with four different players
attempting field goals. Combined, they converted just 8-of-22 attempts.
Eastern Washington All-America receiver Brandon Kaufman set the FCS single-
season receiving yards record with 1,851 yards on 93 receptions. Delaware's
Eddie Conti (1998) held the previous record with 1,712 receiving yards on 91
In three playoff games this season, Kaufman registered 28 catches for 581
yards and six touchdowns. He finished the season with back-to-back three-
In semifinal action this weekend, Georgia Southern defensive tackle Brent
Russell finished his career as the Eagles' all-time sack leader with 25 and
Sam Houston State cornerback Dax Swanson became the school's all-time leader
in career interceptions with 14.
The Sports Network