FCS Playoffs First Round
The Matchup – Central Connecticut State (8-3) at New Hampshire (7-4)
Kickoff – 2 p.m. ET Saturday at Wildcat Stadium (11,015) in Durham, New Hampshire
Coverage – ESPN3
Series – New Hampshire leads 8-0 (last meeting: UNH won 57-14 at home on Sept. 26, 2015)
Players to Watch – Central Connecticut State: RB Cameron Nash (197 carries, 1,003 yards, 13 TDs), RB Drew Jean-Guillaume (856 yards from scrimmage, 10 TDs), LB Randall Laguerre (83 TT, 6.5 TFL), Rover Tymir Hinton (64 TT, 3 INTs, 4 PBU); New Hampshire: QB Trevor Knight (239 of 381, 2,851 yards, 23 TDs, 6 INTs), WR Neil O’Connor (87 receptions, 1,291 yards, 10 TDs), LB Quinlen Dean (101 TT, 8 TFL), DT Rick Holt (60 TT, 5 1/2 Sacks)
The Skinny – CCSU, the Northeast Conference champ, is a FCS playoff newbie, making its first-ever appearance, while CAA power New Hampshire is in the postseason for the 14th straight year and the 18th time overall. The visiting Blue Devils are without starting quarterback Jacob Dolegala and center David Cinti after they received one-game suspensions for a violation of team rules. Little-used sophomore Tanner Kingsley is scheduled to make the start. Having allowed 45 sacks – the fourth-most in the FCS – New Hampshire hasn’t protected Knight well, but he still finds his No. 1 target, O’Connor, who has caught at least seven passes in nine games. The Wildcats tighten up when defending the red zone, ranked eighth nationally in efficiency (28 scores, and only 17 TDs, in 43 opponent opportunities).
Up Next – The winner plays at No. 4 seed Central Arkansas (10-1) in the second round Dec. 2.
Prediction – UNH is 5-0 at home this season and 56-8 since 2007. This could get ugly considering CCSU’s untimely suspensions. New Hampshire, 38-14.