FCS Playoffs First Round
The Matchup – Western Illinois (8-3) at Weber State (9-2)
Kickoff – 4 p.m. ET Saturday at Stewart Stadium (17,500) in Ogden, Utah
Coverage – ESPN3
Series – Series tied 1-1 (Western Illinois won 21-19 at home in 1976)
Players to Watch – Western Illinois: QB Sean McGuire (197 of 302, 2,650 yards, 24 TDs, 6 INTs), RB Steve McShane (132 carries, 552 yards, 7 TDs; 20.2-yard punt return average), WR Jaelon Acklin (74 receptions, 1,253 yards, 10 TDs; 4 rushing TDs), LB Brett Taylor (150 TT, 13 TFL, 4 PBU); Weber State: QB Stefan Cantwell (165 of 262, 2,255 yards, 18 TDs, 5 INTs; 402 rushing yards, 6 TDs), RB Treshawn Garrett (120 carries, 670 yards, 6 TDs); TE Andrew Vollert (44 receptions, 557 yards, 3 TDs), CB Taron Johnson (30 TT, 3 INTs, 7 PBU)
The Skinny – No. 9 Western Illinois is the highest-ranked team without a playoff seed and No. 11 Weber State is the third-highest. The visiting Leathernecks have the most road wins (six) in the FCS, including one at another Big Sky team, Northern Arizona (which Weber State didn’t play). McGuire, who made two playoff starts in 2015, seeks to get the ball to Acklin, who has 29 plays of at least 20 yards, scoring on 11 of them. Taylor is No. 1 in the nation in tackles, leading a defense that has 26 takeaways. Weber State has had terrific balance this season, ranking 12th in the FCS in scoring offense (35.7 ppg) and 11th in scoring defense (16.6 ppg). The Wildcats have averaged 289 rushing yards in their last three games. Freshman Trey Tuttle has made 16 field goals, tying for the second-most in the FCS.
Up Next – The winner plays at No. 8 seed Southern Utah (9-2) in the second round Dec. 2.
Prediction – Which purple team will reign because both are experienced, especially on defense. The Leathernecks’ schedule has prepped them for a difficult road assignment. Western Illinois, 28-24.