FCS Playoffs: Wofford at North Dakota State
FCS Playoffs Quarterfinal
The Matchup – No. 7 seed Wofford (10-2) at No. 2 seed North Dakota State (11-1)
Kickoff – Noon ET Saturday at the Fargodome (19,000) in Fargo, North Dakota
Coverage – ESPN2
Series – North Dakota State leads 1-0 (last game: NDSU won 14-7 at home in a national quarterfinal Dec. 8, 2012)
Players to Watch – Wofford: QB Brandon Goodson (69 of 124, 1,052 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT; 268 rushing yards), FB Andre Stoddard (170 carries, 807 yards, 14 TDs), RB/PR Lennox McAfee (99 carries, 747 yards, 6 TDs), DE Tyler Vaughn (35 TT, 2 1/2 TFL, 3 QBH), DE Miles Brown (40 TT, 9 TFL, 3 Sacks), LB Colton Clemons (76 TT, 3 sacks, 2 takeaways); North Dakota State: QB Easton Stick (130 of 209, 1,992 yards, 20 TDs, 7 INTs; 547 rushing yards, 10 TDs), RB/KR Bruce Anderson (184 carries, 908 yards, 6 TDs), WR RJ Urzendowski (32 receptions, 517 yards, 8 TDs), LB Nick DeLuca (54 TT, 8 TFL, 4 1/2 sacks, 2 FF), S Robbie Grimsley (55 TT, 4 INTs, 6 PBU), S Tre Dempsey (40 TT, 5 INTs, 2 PBU)
The Skinny – Run, run, run: North Dakota State’s power run game ranks fifth in the FCS in rushing yards per game (268.1), while Wofford’s flexbone option attack is seventh (254.0). In the only previous meeting in the 2012 quarterfinals, NDSU’s defense was bend-but-don’t-break, allowing 262 rushing yards but no offensive touchdowns. Wofford, the Southern Conference champ, will spread the carries. In a 28-10 second-round win over Furman, McAfee and Stoddard led with 98 and 64 rushing yards, respectively, yet three other backs scored touchdowns. The Terriers have converted 50 percent of their third-down attempts to keep drives moving. That is a huge factor as they go against an NDSU defense that ranks No. 1 in the FCS in fewest yards allowed per game (232.6). When the Bison have the ball, Wofford’s defensive line, led by bookends Brown and Vaughn, matches up well against the Missouri Valley Conference team’s big offensive line. Anderson brings the thunder and Ty Brooks (565 yards, 9.0 per carry) the lightning in the Bison run game. With play action, Stick will mix in the pass more than his counterpart, Goodson. The Bison are excellent at making adjustments at halftime and have outscored opponents 149-20 in the third quarter.
Up Next – The winner will play Kennesaw State (12-1) or No. 6 seed Sam Houston State (11-1) in the semifinals Dec. 15 or 16.
Prediction – Facing an option offense isn’t NDSU’s only concern, the Bison also are up against a veteran-laden defense. It could get interesting. North Dakota State 23-13.