Sam Houston State @ #2 Eastern Washington, 2012
by, 12-15-2012 at 03:54 PM (4102 Views)
There's just one game standing in their way from knowing the national championship matchup. That's No. 2 seed Eagles versus the unseeded Bearkats in today's semifinal clash at Roos Field in Cheney, Washington. Or also known as "The Inferno" because of the red turf.
The winner faces North Dakota State in Frisco Saturday Jan. 5 after the Bison defeated Georgia Southern 23-20 last night in Fargo.
Offensively, Eastern Washington will look to run the ball, but the bulk of their attack comes from quarterback Kyle Padron, who has excelled the past few games with passing performances of 381, 327 and 358 yards, with eight combined touchdowns, including a record setting six touchdowns against Illinois State in last week's quarterfinal game.
Padron has a pair of wideouts in Brandon Kaufman and Greg Herd that get the bulk of the receptions for the Eagles.
After a 458-yard, 34-point performance against Montana State in the quarterfinals, the Kats offense hopes to pick up where it left off against a defense that is ranked just 79th in total defense (allowing 394.08 yards per game). The Eagles let Illinois State gain 520 yards and 35 points in the quarterfinals.
Besides running the ball (averaging 178.5 rushing yards in playoff victories over other Big Sky members Cal Poly and Montana State), where Sam Houston has shined has been in its ability to keep from turning the ball over. The Bearkats have not turned over the ball in any of their playoff games so far.
Having played in nine games away from SHSU's home stadium of Bowers Stadium this year, including eight as true road games, the Bearkats will be playing far from home again today. But as these games have shown, they should not be that tough to handle the road.
In last week's quarterfinal matchup with #3 seed Montana State, the Kats dealt with the hostile crowd in Bozeman and Cheney should not be as tough with less seating capacity.
The Bearkats, who normally play in a much warmer climate, will have to battle the elements as temperatures are the lower 30s with a chance of snow yet today. This was a similar weather situation in Bozeman last week but did not have too much trouble in it.
I think this game will be an offensive track meet. Turnovers and the defenses holding the opposing team to field goal attempts will be the key in the game.
I think as was seen in EWU's win over Montana State earlier this season that the Eagles are the best team out of the Big Sky but having played two prior BSC team's might be a plus for the Kats.
But the Eagles, who won the 2010 national championship, I feel will be able to handle the Kats in this one but likely will come down to the last minutes in a closely contested game.
I can't wait to see how this one plays out. Kickoff is about 10 minutes away and can't wait for this one to get going.