FCS Playoffs: Kennesaw State at Sam Houston State

FCS Playoffs Quarterfinal

The Matchup – Kennesaw State (12-1) at No. 6 seed Sam Houston State (11-1)

Kickoff – 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Bowers Stadium (12,593) in Huntsville, Texas

Coverage – ESPN3

Series – First meeting

Players to Watch – Kennesaw State: QB Chandler Burks (69 of 141, 1,187 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs; 234 carries, 1,060 yards, 17 TDs), RB Jake McKenzie (148 carries, 688 yards, 3 TDs), WR Justin Sumpter (29 receptions, 534 yards, 5 TDs), LB Bryson Armstrong (109 TT, 11 sacks, 3 INTs, 4 FR), S Taylor Henkle (53 TT, 3 INTs, 2 FR), PK Justin Thompson (15 of 18 FG, 49 of 49 PAT); Sam Houston State: QB Jeremiah Briscoe (286 of 499, 4,398 yards, 41 TDs, 12 INTs), RB Corey Avery (155 carries, 939 yards, 13 TDs; 23 receptions), WR/RS Davion Davis (69 receptions, 1,121 yards, 17 TDs; 21 total TDs), WR Nathan Stewart (64 receptions, 1,485 yards, 12 TDs), NT P.J. Hall (44 TT, 17 TFL, 6 sacks, 6 PBU, 4 BK), LB Justin Johnson (89 TT, 4 sacks)

The Skinny – Both offenses feature tons of speed, but they have polar-opposite schemes – Kennesaw State ranks No. 1 in the FCS in rushing yards per game (328.5) and Sam Houston State is No. 1 in passing yards per game (372.8). Kennesaw’s third-year program is in its first playoff appearance, while Sam Houston has 15 playoff wins during a seven-year run of appearances. The host Bearkats have won 19 straight home games and are 12-0 all-time in home playoff games. Still, the Big South champion Owls have the momentum of a 12-game winning streak, including a 17-7 disposal of No. 3 seed Jacksonville State in the second round. Their option attack flows through Burks, the first QB in Big South history to both run and pass for 1,000 yards in a season. Their defense is ranked 11th nationally in fewest yards allowed per game (287.5) and faced a dominant quarterback in the first round in Samford QB Devlin Hodges, who threw for 396 yards but only found the end zone once. Briscoe will pass just as often after throwing for 505 yards and four touchdowns in a 54-42 win over South Dakota in the second round. Often overlooked in the Southland Conference power’s aerial assault is it still averages 185.5 rushing yards per game and has 27 rushing TDs. The Bearkats surrender 165.9 rushing yards per game.

Up Next – The winner will play Wofford (10-2) or No. 2 seed North Dakota State (11-1) in the semifinals Dec. 15 or 16.

Prediction – Kennesaw, seeking to become the first semifinalist out of the Big South, has the style to frustrate Sam Houston, but the veteran Bearkats’ offense will be relentless. Sam Houston 35-31.