New Hampshire at Central Arkansas FCS Football 2017 Playoffs Second Round Breakdown

There’s not a lot to talk about from New Hampshire’s playoff win over Central Connecticut State, they won 14-0. There’s not a lot to talk about offensively. Defensively, a shutout is always impressive, even against an overmatched Northeast Conference team. Still, the bounce back was nice to see considering how the Wildcats finished the regular season, getting shutout themselves against Albany. This is a tough team to have overconfidence in with their shortcomings with the ball. And when playing the better teams on their schedule; James Madison, Stony Brook, Elon, they only managed 40 total points in those three games. The defense did hold up their end of the bargain in those same three games, giving up just 65. A 1-2 outcome was not deserved by that side of the ball.
Central Arkansas waited in Conway for the winner of a game being played over 1,000 miles away. That’s a pretty nice reward for their #4 overall seed…road weary travelers in a new territory. Let’s not forget the fact that this is a really good team by the numbers. But the numbers are a bit skewed since nine of their ten FCS games came against Southland Conference teams. The one non-Southland opponent was Murray State and it’s tough to get a read on a team’s strength by who beat them. The two quality conference foes they did play resulted in fairly easy victories, beating Sam Houston State by 11 and McNeese by 30.
The knock on the top of the SLC for years has been the strength of their bottom feeders, who have been very bad. A battle tested squad like New Hampshire is a legitimate scary venture for a mostly untested Central Arkansas. If the Bears are as good as their numbers suggest, this should be another comfortable win. However, if they are not, this might be the big upset of the Second Round. Add the fact that UNH was knocked as a playoff participant, they’re playing with house money. Can their offense bring any more chips to the table?
Projection: Central Arkansas 20, New Hampshire 14