#7 Coastal Carolina at #2 North Dakota State FCS Football 2014 Playoffs Quarterfinals Game Breakdown

George Hammond


#7 Coastal Carolina at #2 North Dakota State, Saturday, 12:00

When these two last met, North Dakota State (12-1) was en route to its third consecutive FCS title and Coastal Carolina (12-1) was coming off perhaps the most significant victory in school history. With that scenario, there was no way the Chanticleers were going into Fargo, North Dakota, and upend the FCS Goliath.

They didn’t. North Dakota State won handily, 48-14, in the quarterfinals last year. The Bison entered that contest having toyed with Furman, 38-7, a week earlier while Coastal Carolina had done the unthinkable. It had gone to Montana and upset the Grizzlies, 42-35, in an environment with near zero wind chills. It was the first time the program had played a game outside of the Eastern Time Zone, and needless to say, the frigid conditions weren’t anything like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where the Chanticleers reside.

This year? It will be extremely difficult for the Chanticleers again, but at least they have the experience of playing in Fargo now and they shouldn’t be as emotionally spent as they were a year ago after beating Montana. Coastal Carolina had a surprisingly easy time with Richmond in the second round on Saturday, defeating the Spiders, 36-15. The Chanticleers rushed for 316 yards to overcome Richmond quarterback Michael Strauss’ 402 passing yards.

Meanwhile, the Bison were nearly eliminated by conference rival South Dakota State on Saturday. The Bison rallied to win 27-24 on R.J. Urzendowski’s second touchdown reception of the game with 54 seconds remaining. The Bison had handled the Jackrabbits in Fargo, 37-17, during the regular season five weeks ago so North Dakota State might have been caught looking ahead.

That won’t be the case against Coastal despite last year’s lopsided win. The Chanticleers can run and pass. Junior quarterback Alex Ross is now the school’s single-season passing leader. He is among the top 15 nationally in passing yards and is closing in on Tyler Thigpen’s school mark for career touchdown passes. Ross also has rushed for more than 500 yards. Sophomore De’Angelo Henderson is the top running threat as he’s gone over 1,200 yards rushing this season. He ranks second on Coastal’s single-season yardage mark and could threaten the record if CCU has an extended playoff run.

Although North Dakota State doesn’t have the gaudy offensive statistics that Coastal has, the Bison could attack the Chanticleers’ run defense. Coastal is ranked just 54th against the run. On the other side, North Dakota State could throttle the Chanticleers’ attack. The Bison are second in scoring defense (nationally), second in passing yards allowed and third in total defense. Plus, they have an excellent kicking game and they’re playing at home.

This year’s game should be much closer, but you can’t pick against the Bison.

Projected Score: North Dakota State 34, Coastal Carolina 17


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