FCS football playoff matchups at a glance
(FNS) — Here is a quick look at Saturday’s matchups for the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. (Seed ranking for the top eight teams are indicated):
(9-4) at No. 1 North Dakota State (12-0)
NDSU leads the series against Nicholls 2-0, with a 24-14 road win in 2004 and a 26-13 home win in 2005. NDSU is 12-1 against Southland Conference opponents, its only loss a 48-45 loss to Sam Houston State in 2009.
NDSU has a 32-2 record in the FCS playoffs, including a 24-1 record in the Fargodome. A win would extend NDSU’s current winning streak to 34 games, which would set an FCS record.
Nicholls sophomore running back Julien Gums set the school’s single-season rushing record with 1,155 yards. … Senior quarterback Chase Fourcade has program records in passing touchdowns (69) and rushing touchdowns (35). He ranks 10th all-time in the program for rushing yards with 1,869 yards…. Junior wide receiver Dai’Jean Dixon is the school’s third all-time leader in receiving yards with 2,220. He averages 122.2 yards receiving per game this season. … Senior defensive lineman Sully Laiche has 36.5 sacks for his career, which places him in the top 10 on the FCS all-time list.
Illinois State (9-4) at No. 8 Central
These two teams have played twice before with Illinois State claiming an 18-3 home win in 2006 and Central Arkansas winning at home 31-24 in 2016.
Central Arkansas, co-champs of the Southland Conference with Nicholls State, is led by quarterback Breylin Smith, who has thrown for 3,506 yards and 31 touchdowns, completing 63.9% of his passes. Freshman Tyler Hudson has caught 52 passes for 939 yards, averaging 18.1 yards per catch.
In last week’s 24-6 playoff win at Southeast Missouri, Illinois State’s James Robinson broke the school record with 297 yards rushing and set school and conference records for most rushing yards in a playoff game.
Albany (9-4) at No. 5 Montana State (9-3)
Montana State’s only previous game against a Colonial Athletic Association opponent was a 26-25 home win over New Hampshire in the 2011 FCS playoffs.
Montana State has scored 25 points in four straight games and more than 40 in three of those.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jeff Undercuffler threw a program-record six touchdown passes in Albany’s 42-14 playoff win over Central Connecticut — the first FCS playoff win for Albany. Undercuffler leads the FCS with 39 touchdown passes and has thrown for 3,270 yards this season.
(10-3) at No. 4 Sacramento State (9-3)
This marks Sacramento State’s first-ever FCS playoff game and first playoff appearance since advancing to the semifinals of the 1988 Division II playoffs.
Austin Peay claimed its first FCS playoff win with last week’s 42-6 victory over Furman. Quarterback JaVaughn Craig averages 217.8 passing yards and 43.6 rushings yards per game.
Sacramento State junior quarterback Kevin Thomson, the Big Sky Conference offensive player of the year, has thrown for 2,910 yards this season and ranks third in the program with 6,118 career passing yards.
Kennesaw State (11-2) at No. 3 Weber State (9-3)
Weber State, appearing in the FCS playoffs for the fourth straight year, is led by quarterback Jake Constantine who has 1,733 yards passing and running back Josh Davis who has 1,015 yards rushing.
Two of Weber State’s losses came against FBS schools San Diego State (6-0) and Nevada (19-13). Weber also lost to Montana 35-16 on Nov. 16.
Kennesaw State sophomore Jonathan Murphy, who came in for an injured Tommy Bryant at quarterback in the second quarter of last week’s 28-21 playoff win over Wofford, rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns in that game.
(8-4) at No. 6 Montana (9-3)
This will be the first meeting between these two teams. Montana is 15-4 and has never lost at home to a team from the Southland Conference.
Southeastern Louisiana has won four of its last five games, including a 34-0 win at Southland Conference co-champion Central Arkansas.
In Southeastern Louisiana’s 45-44 opening-round win over Villanova, quarterback Chason Virgil — a Fresno State transfer — racked up 602 yards of total offense. Eight of Southeastern Louisiana’s 16 FBS transfers are listed as starters.
Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed enters his first postseason game ranked No. 3 as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards per game and total offense per game. Samori Toure is the first Montana player to pass the 1,000-yard receiving threshold since 2015.
Northern Iowa (9-4) at No. 7 South Dakota State (8-4)
When these two teams met in Brookings on Nov. 16, SDSU claimed a 38-7 win as UNI had four turnovers. Nursing a 7-0 halftime lead, SDSU outscored UNI 31-7 in the second half.
Since quarterback J’Bore Gibbs was sidelined with an injury on Oct. 26 against North Dakota State, Keaton Heide has become the starter completing 71 of 100 passes for 905 yards in six games. Pierre Strong has run for 1,018 yards and Cade Johnson has caught 67 passes for 1,187 yards.
In its 17-3 opening-round win over San Diego, UNI’s defense forced four turnovers including an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Quarterback Will McElvain, who has thrown six interceptions this season, has passed for 2,540 yards.
Monmouth (11-2) at No. 2 James Madison (11-1)
In its first meeting with Monmouth, this marks the first time since the 2011 playoffs James Madison has not been matched up in the same bracket with a team from its Colonial Athletic Association.
James Madison’s defensive ends Ron’Dell Carter and John Daka are finalists for the Buck Buchanan Award, given annually to the top defensive player in the FCS. James Madison lead the nation in rushing defense allowing only 62.8 yards per game and is third in total defense allowing only 277.8 yards per game.
James Madison quarterback Ben DiNucci, the CAA offensive player of the year, leads the nation in completion percentage (70.3%) and ranks second in passing efficiency (175.2).
Monmouth is led by Big South Conference player of the year Kenji Bahar who has passed for 3,511 yards and 29 touchdowns. Running back Pete Guerriero leads the nation with 1,888 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.