Friday, December 14, 2012

MVFC Playoffs: North Dakota State 14, Wofford 7

The Bison are two wins away from repeating as
National Champions.
Only a few days late on this. BUT, North Dakota State advanced again in the FCS playoffs as they denied Wofford 14-7 in the Fargodome on Saturday. North Dakota State's defense did not allow a touchdown for the second consecutive game as Woffords only points came on a pick-six early in the second quarter. Wofford did however put up the most rushing yards against the Bison defense all year. Standout Wofford FB, Eric Breitenstein, put up 135 yards on the Bison, however, all that is meaningless because none of it lead to points. RB Sam Ojuri capped a 5-minute opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. With 4 minutes left in the first half, Brock Jensen found Zach Vraa in the endzone to put the Bison up 14-7 which would be the final score. Next weekend the Bison will have a semi-final rematch with Georgia Southern. Georgia Southern is coming off a 49-35 win at Old Dominion and will bring the nations leading rushing attack to the Fargodome. Last year the Bison took care of Georgia Southern 35-7 on their way to a National Title.

North Dakota State will play Georgia Southern tonight at 7:00 CST on ESPN 2.

Monday, December 10, 2012

MVFC Playoffs: Eastern Washington 51, Illinois State 35

Illinois State WR, Lechein Neblett, tries to break free
from Eastern Washington's Jeff Minnerly.
(Photo: AP Photo/Tyler Tjomsland)
Illinois State couldn't keep up with Eastern Washington on Saturday as the Redbirds were eliminated from the playoffs losing to the Eagles by a score of 51-35. Illinois State didn't have any trouble moving the ball up and down the field as they racked up 520 total yards of offense; however, the three costly turnovers proved to be the knife in the back for Illinois State. Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Matt Brown, threw two interceptions; one which led to an Eastern Washington touchdown which was part of a quick 14-point swing to start the second half, the second was with 34 seconds left in the game in desperation time. At the end of the game Eastern Washington proved they belong in the FCS semi-final game next week against Sam Houston State. Although the Eagle defense gave up so many yards, they proved to be opportunistic and create the turnovers at just the right time.

2012 will be a season to remember for Illinois State; 9-4, a second-round win at Appalachian State in OT, and the MVFC Offensive MVP, all contributed to an outstanding season for the Redbirds. I'll be honest, it will be very strange seeing someone else quarterback the Illinois State offense next year. Without speculating too much on next year for Illinois State, they'll lose 13 seniors including big offensive performers, Tyrone Walker, Matt Brown, and Darrelynn Dunn. The Redbirds also lose big-time offensive line contributor Cary Pete, however, that is the only loss to the offensive line. Defensively, Illinois State loses a bit more and will need to replace star linebackers, Mike Zimmer, Austin Davis, and Evan Frierson. Here is a complete list of the outgoing players from Illinois State:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

MVFC Playoffs: North Dakota State 28, South Dakota State 3

NDSU QB, Brock Jensen celebrates with teamate
Garret Bruhn during a 28-3 NCAA Second Round
victory against rival South Dakota State
(Photo: The Forum/Dave Wallis)
Not much to say about this victory. North Dakota State erased any doubt that South Dakota State could play up to their level on Saturday as the Bison beat the Jackrabbits in convincing fashion. The Jackrabbits came into this game with a lot of confidence and momentum after outscoring their opponents 86-18 since the first SDSU-NDSU match up; however, that wasn't enough to pull off the upset in Fargo.

The Bison set the tone early as they drove the ball and chewed the clock in the first quarter, however, their first drive ended in a missed field goal. The missed field goal set up a South Dakota State opportunity to get on the board first--and they did. After a long pass set South Dakota State up inside North Dakota State territory the Jackrabbit drive stalled and Justin Syrovatka put up South Dakota State's only points of the game. After that it was all Bison; Brock Jensen was in prime performance on Saturday as he threw for two TDs and ran for another.

The Bison have now won four in a row against South Dakota State; this time, however, much more was at stake. North Dakota State earned a quarter-final date with Wofford of the Southern Conference which should be a very interesting match up with a run-heavy offense against the nations #1 run defense. After watching the game on Saturday, it looked like the Bison got all their kinks out and they look like they are in prime condition to do some damage to the Terriers this Saturday. The winner of North Dakota State-Wofford will face either Old Dominion or Georgia Southern.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

MVFC Playoffs: Illinois State 38, Appalachian State 37

Illinois State's Mike Zimmer (9) celebrates with Matt Goldsmith (14)
after the Redibrds blocked an extra-point in overtime to beat Appalachian State.
(Photo: AP Photo/Walk Unks)
Illinois State will advance to the quarterfinals all thanks to a blocked extra-point attempt in overtime. The Redbirds lead the entire game until the fourth quarter when Appalachian State tied the game via a tricksy wide-receiver pass with three minutes left to play to force overtime. In overtime, Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Matt Brown, connected with James O'Shaughnessey to take a 38-31 lead. Jamal Jackson and the Mountaineers answered three-plays later with a four-yard Andrew Peacock touchdown, however, the extra-point was block and the Redbirds escaped Boone victorious. Redbird quarterback Matt Brown was at his best on Saturday. He connected 20 times on 32 pass attempts for 322 yards 5 touchdowns, and most importantly, zero interceptions. Illinois State most definitely needed their passing game as the Mountain er rush defense kept Redbird RB, Darrelynn Dunn, in check all game; Dunn ended the game with just 67 total yards. At wide-receiver, both O'Shaughnessey and Tyrone Walker ended the day hauling in two TD passes a piece.

Next weekend, Illinois State will have to face Eastern Washington from the Big Sky. This matchup will be extremely interesting as Eastern Washington struggled all night with Wagner from the NEC. Eastern Washington has been said to have one of the best defenses in the Big Sky, however, the Seahawks marched the ball on them multiple times and were up on the Eagles 19-16 in the third-quarter. However, Wagner ran out of steam and Eastern Washington ran away from the Seahawks in the fourth quarter. There are multiple things to consider about this matchup between Illinois State and Eastern Washington. One, on paper, both of these teams run similar offenses; they like to throw the ball and keep a defense off-balance with screens and draws. Secondly, Illinois State's passing attack looks to match up well against Eastern Washington's pass defense. Finally, the long road trip and elevation could contribute to faster fatigue in Illinois State players, on the other hand, Illinois State is undefeated on the road this season.