FCS First Round: Weber State-Chattanooga
FCS Playoffs First Round
The Matchup – Weber State (7-4) at Chattanooga (8-3)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. ET Saturday at Finley Stadium (20,668) in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Coverage – ESPN3
Series – First meeting
Players to Watch – Weber State: QB Jadrian Clark (245 of 393, 2,823 yards, 22 TDs, 12 INTs), OG Cameron Young, OLB Tre'von Johnson (87 tackles, 10.5 TFL); Chattanooga: QB Alejandro Bennifield (172 of 262, 2,173 yards, 23 TDs, 7 INTs), RB Derrick Craine (808 yards, 9 TDs), DE Keionta Davis (8.5 sacks, 6 QB hurries)
The Skinny – Under third-year coach Jay Hill, Weber State is enjoying its best season since 2009. The Wildcats are 6-1 in games decided by seven points or less. Their mobile quarterback, Clark, has had a breakout season, but he's thrown 23 interceptions in the last two seasons. While the Big Sky squad will find running the ball difficult against Chattanooga, senior Haini Moimoi is coming off a career-best 101 yards. Place-kicker Taylor Hintze has made only seven of 18 field goal attempts. Chattanooga lost its final two regular-season games (Wofford and Alabama) to slip from earning a first-round bye in their third straight playoff appearance. The Mocs will try to overpower Weber State at the line of scrimmage, having run the ball 62 percent of their offensive plays. Their pass rush is excellent as Davis, the Southern Conference defensive player of the year, fellow D-end Vantrel McMillan and outside linebacker Dale Warren have been in on 21 of the defense's 29 sacks. Special teams also make a difference with kicker Henrique Ribeiro (44 career field goals) and return men Xavier Borishade and C.J. Board.
Up Next – The winner plays at No. 5 seed Sam Houston State (11-0) in the second round Dec. 3.
Prediction – With playoff experience and 21 wins in their last 25 home games, the Mocs will have a decisive Southern (Conference) comfort level over Weber State. Chattanooga 31-17.