FCS Playoff Preview: Eastern Washington Gets Ready for South Dakota State
It will be a well rested team versus a red hot team Saturday in very frigid Cheney, Washington for round two of the FCS Playoffs when Eastern Washington (10-2) hosts South Dakota State (9-4).
The Eagles are the number three seed in the 24-team field, meaning they received a first round bye. Head coach Beau Baldwin says the week off was good for his team for a lot of reasons:
EWU and SDSU are two of just eight teams back in the playoffs for the second straight year.
Post season appearances have become quite common in Cheney, with the Eagles in the playoffs for the seventh time in the last ten years.
Eastern Washington won the National Championship in 2010 and lost in the semifinals to Sam Houston State last year.
That's a ton of playoff experience for this team to draw from:
South Dakota is riding the high of a five-game winning streak, including round one's 26-7 win at Northern Arizona, which saw another four turnovers forced by the Jackrabbit defense.
In 2013, SDSU is +16 in turnover margin, 3rd best in the nation. It's a stat the Eagles are keenly aware of, but are trying not focus too much on:
South Dakota State features the top running back in the nation with junior Zach Zenner just 56 yards shy of 2,000 this season.
With that kind of success running the ball, the Jacks are in the Top 25 in FCS in time of possession, while the Eagles do their damage thru the air in much quicker fashion.
But Baldwin says don't discount SDSU's ability to score in a hurry:
The Eastern Washington offense is driven by second year quarterback Vernon Adams who has out up staggering numbers this season: 46 touchdowns and more than 4,000 passing yards.
His TD mark and passing efficiency rating (185.7) are both tops in FCS. He's in the Top Ten in completion percentage (66%), yards (4,056), and yards per completion (15.55):
Kickoff is 3:00pm CST in Cheney Saturday, where the game time high is expected to be 10 degrees. The game will be shown nationally on Direct TV channel 793 and DISH Network channel 462.
View the entire FCS Playoff bracket here.