FCS Second-Round Playoff
The Matchup – Austin Peay (10-3, 7-1 Ohio Valley) at No. 4 seed Sacramento State (9-3, 7-1 Big Sky)
Kickoff – 9 p.m. ET at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California
Coverage – ESPN3
Series – First meeting
Coaches – Austin Peay: Mark Hudspeth (10-3, first season; 104-62 overall); Sacramento State: Troy Taylor (9-3, first season)3 Players to Watch – Austin Peay: JaVaughn Craig (3,114 yards of total offense, 30 total TDs), WR DeAngelo Wilson (68 receptions, 1,246 yards, 12 TDs), NB Kordell Jackson (34 tackles, 7 INTs); Sacramento State: QB Kevin Thomson (3,442 yards of total offense, 35 total TDs), RB Elijah Dotson (1,438 scrimmage yards, 11 total TDs), DE George Obinna (40 tackles, 16½ tackles for loss, 13½ sacks)
The Skinny – Both programs are enjoying their best seasons ever and making their first FCS playoff appearances under first-year coaches, with OVC co-champ Austin Peay routing Furman 42-6 in the first round while Big Sky co-champ Sac State enjoyed a bye. They feature versatile personnel in the offensive skills positions and their season averages are similar with the visiting Governors averaging 430.2 yards and 35.8 points per game and the Hornets averaging 469 yards and 36.3 points. Austin Peay senior RB Kentel Williams has 4,736 career all-purpose yards in his career, while Sac State’s Dotson, a junior, has 3,766. In the Governors’ 4-2-5 defensive alignment, Jackson has the second-most interceptions in the FCS and DT Josephus Smith has 19½ tackles for loss and 7½ sacks. Thomson is the Big Sky’s offensive player of the year, and though set back by injuries during his career, he has been lights out at Hornet Stadium, averaging 330.4 yards of total offense and producing 49 combined TD rushes and passes in 13 games. Obinna and DT Dariyn Choates have combined for 33½ tackles for loss and 20½ sacks, although Austin Peay’s offensive line has allowed only eight sacks. Both teams are 3-1 against nationally ranked opponents this season.
Up Next – The winner will play either UAlbany (9-4) or No. 5 seed Montana State (9-3) in the quarterfinals Dec. 13 or 14.
Prediction – In a matchup of two explosive offenses, it may be good to have the ball last. Sacramento State, 30-27.