New Hampshire at Wofford FCS Playoffs 2nd Round Breakdown

George Hammond

New Hampshire at Wofford FCS Playoffs 2nd Round Breakdown


Wofford vs. New Hampshire

If Wofford and New Hampshire enter their second-round FCS playoff game in Spartanburg, S.C., Saturday with a chip on their shoulders, who could blame them? Once the 20-team playoff field was announced and scrutinized, there were questions why these two were: first, in the field, and second, getting a first-round bye.  But here they are and the winner will meet the winner of North Dakota State and South Dakota State in the quarterfinals Dec. 7 or Dec. 8.

The Wildcats are making their ninth consecutive trip to the playoffs, the longest streak in the nation. But in truth, New Hampshire (8-3, 6-2), which got torched by uninvited Towson 64-35 in the season finale, has gotten the most heat.  Meanwhile, Wofford’s (8-3, 6-2) selection has been questioned, too, particularly in light of the teams that were left out.  The Terriers, which bowed to South Carolina 24-7 in their regular-season finale, were just happy to have the extra time off.  “We need the extra time,” Wofford coach Mike Ayers said. “We are beat up and hopefully we can get some guys back healthy to field the best football team that we are capable of fielding.”

Wofford senior fullback Eric Breitenstein, who was named the Southern Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, agreed.  “We had our bye week in week three, which was a long time ago,” he said. “We have had some hard games in this stretch, and it will be good to have a little bit of a break.” The story line for this contest is simple. Can the Terriers’ ground game, led by Breitenstein, control the clock and keep New Hampshire’s high-powered offense off the field?  Wofford should be able to move the ball. The Terriers are No. 2 nationally in rushing offense (348.2 yards per game) going against New Hampshire’s defense that is 104th nationally in total defense.

Breitenstein surpassed 100 yards in all but one game this season and averages 150 yards a contest. Breitenstein set a Southern Conference record this year when he rushed for 321 yards against Elon. Considering New Hampshire yielded 172 points in losses to Minnesota, Old Dominion and Towson, it is difficult seeing Wofford’s rushing attack being slowed.  But Wofford will have a challenge stopping the Wildcats, too. New Hampshire uses two quarterbacks in Sean Goldrich and Andy Vallas. The former is more of the passer while the latter is the running threat.  New Hampshire is ranked No. 9 nationally () in total offense at 470.9 yards per game and their 36.55 points is 11th in scoring offense.

Although these two teams didn’t face a common opponent, Wofford’s contest with Appalachian State, which it won 38-28, might be a good measuring stick. The Mountaineers, also in the playoffs, have a potent, balanced attack while their defense is in the bottom half of FCS teams at 100th in rushing defense and 92nd in total defense.


See all FCS Playoffs Game Breakdowns