FCS Playoff First Round
Monmouth (3-0 Big South) vs. No. 2 seed Sam Houston (6-0 Southland)
Site: Bowers Stadium in Huntsville, Texas
Kickoff – Noon ET Saturday
TV Coverage – ESPN3
Series – First meeting
Coaches – Monmouth: Kevin Callahan (166-124, 28th season); Sam Houston: K.C. Keeler (65-22, seventh season; 239-95-1 overall)
3 Players to Watch – Monmouth: RB Juwon Farri (79 carries, 422 yards, 9 TDs), LB Da’Quan Grimes (27 tackles, sack), CB Eddie Morales III (18 tackles, 5 passes defended, two takeaways); Sam Houston: QB Eric Schmid (124 of 200, 2,021 yards, 14 TDs, 7 INTs; 278 rush yards, 5 TDs), WR/PR Jequez Ezzard (136 all-purpose ypg, 8 TDs), DE Jahari Key (22 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles)
The Skinny – While Monmouth puts up points regularly, the matchup comes down to its defense versus the Sam Houston offense. Seven of the visiting Hawks’ 11 defensive starters were named to the All-Big South first team, with the unit particularly strong against the run. True freshman QB Tony Muskett (8 touchdown passes with no interceptions) has big-play wide receivers in Terrance Greene Jr. and Lonnie Moore IV, but the first offensive option is Farri, who’s been over 100 rushing yards and scored multiple TDs in all three games. Sam Houston is 13-0 all-time in FCS home playoff games. The Schmid-led offense goes for the knockout low, with 24 plays from scrimmage of 30-or-more yards. The Bearkats have outscored opponents 269-105, an FCS-high 164-point advantage and 44 better than James Madison’s second-highest margin. Quarterback pressure is a staple with the defenses: Monmouth leads the FCS in sacks per game (5.00) and Sam Houston is No. 2 (4.17).
Up Next – The winner will play either Eastern Washington or North Dakota State in the second round on May 1 or 2.
Prediction – Sam Houston 38, Monmouth 28