By Kent Schmidt
CSN West Columnist
College Sporting News
So this week, I will be covering five games in basically a six to seven hour window this Saturday.
And no, I am not complaining.
What games do we have for the ‘West’ teams this week?
My day will start by covering the Central Arkansas at #4 seed Montana game at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time.
I will then add attention to Stony Brook at #1 seed Sam Houston State and New Hampshire at Montana State an hour later at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.
One hour later, I will put additional attention on James Madison at #2 seed North Dakota State at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
And finally, in a game I will attend in person, I will see Wofford at #5 Northern Iowa at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.
Five games in six or seven hour window. I hope I sleep well on Friday!
Have this many 'West' teams been included before?
Yes, but typically they had played each other. There is only one West vs. West game in the round of 16, Montana versus Central Arkansas.
In the past, a Southland team played a Big Sky team and maybe a Missouri Valley team played a Big Sky or Southland squad.
I like the variety this year as we get to see how West teams are against other conferences like the Colonial Athletic Association, the Southern Conference and the Big South Conference at once to get a better understanding of who might field a better league.
How do I see these games coming out?
I have projected earlier that all home teams will win in these games and it just so happens that five of the six West teams play at home this week.
I see five teams from the West still playing as we enter the quarterfinals the following weekend. Having to cover just three games then will probably feel like a breeze in comparison to this week.
But again, I am not complaining. My hope is that as many West teams make it as far as they can.
I truly would like nothing more than having two West teams play for the national title. I can rest in the offseason.
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CSN WEST PLAYOFF GAME PREVIEWS
Central Arkansas (9-3, 6-1 SLC) @ #4 Montana (9-2, 7-1 BSC), 2:00 p.m. Eastern
This is the only matchup of two West teams this week and thus is my top game of the week. The Bears come into this game having won their last eight games, including their first Division I playoff game last week on the road against Tennessee Tech.
Montana comes into this one with after a bye week and has been streaking like the Bears in winning their last seven contests.
The Grizzlies and Bears have never met before.
Montana is 12-0 at Washington-Grizzly Stadium against Southland Conference teams in the playoffs, and has won those games by an average score of 45.25 to 12.25.
Montana last played a Southland team in 2009 in the quarterfinal round with a 51-0 victory.
The Bears have never faced a Big Sky team but they did play Portland State in the 1993 Division II playoffs, prior to Portland State joining the Big Sky. PSU won 45-31.
Montana is a team that likes to run it first—ranking 21st in the country in this statistic. Peter Nguyen is the leading rusher with 689 yards.
But the Grizzlies can throw it a little bit too with quarterback Jordan Johnson, who has thrown for 1,792 yards and 15 scores.
As was seen last week, the Bear offense revolves around the throwing from quarterback Nathan Dick who has thrown for 3,010 yards with 30 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. His top targets are Jesse Grandy (46 catches, 731 yards, 8 TDs) and Dominique Croom (38-518-7).
While I think the two offenses are relatively even, I think the difference in this game will be the defenses. Montana gives up just 321.55 yards per game to rank 22nd in the country. Central Arkansas ranks 98th by giving up 408.0 yards.
I like what I see with the Grizzlies and think they will win rather comfortably this week. I like the Grizzles by two touchdowns.
Montana 31, Central Arkansas 17.
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For the other West team playoff games this week, I will just provide a quick score prediction.
Stony Brook (9-3) at #1 Sam Houston St. (11-0), 3:00p.m. Eastern
Sam Houston State 38, Stony Brook 21
New Hampshire (8-3) at Montana St. (9-2), 3:00p.m. Eastern
Montana State 28, New Hampshire 24
James Madison (8-4) at #2 North Dakota St. (10-1), 4:00p.m. Eastern
North Dakota State 31, James Madison 28
Wofford (8-3) at Northern Iowa (9-2), 5:00p.m. Eastern
Northern Iowa 24, Wofford 21