The Skinny – Here’s a great matchup of terrific young coaches (Weber State’s Jay Hill is 42 and Southern Utah’s Demario Warren 32). Although the teams were Big Sky co-champs, SUU was a decisive winner in the regular-season matchup, doubling up Weber State in points and nearly in yards (487-250). The quarterback spot factored in heavily as Tyler (317 total yards, three TD passes) starred while Cantwell departed early in the second quarter under concussion protocol. Cantwell threw for three TDs in the Wildcats’ 21-19 win over Western Illinois in the first round. They rank first in the conference in scoring defense (16.8 ppg), rushing defense (117.2 ypg), total defense (336.5 ypg), pass defense efficiency (108.1), interceptions (17) and red zone defense (63.3). Their kicking duo of PK Trey Tuttle and P Jacob DeMaio is exceptional. The Thunderbirds are 5-0 at home, including wins over Northern Iowa, Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona. They’ve scored at least 46 points in four of their last five games. RBs Felila and Jay Green (600 yards, 13 TDs) are an excellent tag-team and Tyler is particularly mobile coming out of the pocket.
Up Next – The winner will play Stony Brook or No. 1 seed James Madison in the quarterfinals on Dec. 8 or 9.
Prediction – Cantwell’s injury impacted the first meeting and Weber State is surging defensively. Weber State, 24-21.