Western Illinois at Weber State FCS Football 2017 Playoffs First Round Breakdown

Western Illinois (8-3) at Weber State (9-2), Saturday 4:00
Western Illinois enters this match-up a battle tested bunch. That’s life in the MVFC, where just about every week is met with a ranked opponent. Add the fact the Leathernecks played Northern Arizona on the road (and won 38-20) and beat FBS Coastal Carolina (52-10), the writing was on the wall early, that this could be a special season. The three losses were to South Dakota, South Dakota State and North Dakota State, no fault when playing those kinds of teams. This is one of the better 3rd down teams in the country, ranking 20th offensively and 16th defensively. So they keep the offense going, also indicated by their 19th ranking in time of possession. All that leads to 35.5 ppg, so you have to score to beat these guys. It’s a tough outfit to slow down. Occasionally the defense is susceptible to letdowns, but not because of LB Brett Taylor, FCS tackling machine extraordinaire.
Guess what? The Wildcats know how to play on 3rd down also, ranking 15th and 21st, offensively and defensively. Weber State missed Northern Arizona in conference play, so there’s no common opponent to compare these teams to. These guys seem to rely on the rushing attack a little more than passing, but that’s not to say that QB Stefan Cantwell isn’t efficient when he throws. His 18/5 TD/INT ratio is a good indicator. Other than a loss to Southern Utah, the Wildcats haven’t dropped a game since the beginning of September. And in all of those games the defense was superb, allowing a maximum of 27 points in any contest (that wasn’t SUU’s 32).
This is a difficult game to project. One would think that WIU would be intimidated going on the road, but played seven of them already this year. A trip to elevation doesn’t seem to matter either, as they won at Northern Arizona. Weber State has been a little less tested, playing only one playoff opponent and losing. But never underestimate home field advantage for good teams. This could be the highlight game of the First Round.
Projected Score: Western Illinois 27, Weber State 24