2021 Division I FCS Playoff First Round Preview: Florida A&M at Southeastern Louisiana

GAME PREVIEW: #22 Florida A&M vs. #18 Southeastern Louisiana
When: Saturday, November 27 at 6:00 PM CST
Where: Strawberry Stadium; Hammond, Louisiana
TV/Streaming: ESPN+

With Florida A&M’s emphatic 46-21 victory over state rival Bethune-Cookman last Saturday in the Florida Classic, the Rattlers snapped their nine-game losing streak to B-CU as the Classic returned after a missed season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. FAMU finished with 473 total yards, quarterback Rasean McKay completed 15 of 23 passes for 175 yards and one score and running back Bishop Bonnett had 128 rushing yards and a touchdown. FAMU’s defense got into the act, scoring a pair of touchdowns off turnovers in the third quarter. 

Southeastern Louisiana kicker Mateo Rengifo’s potential game-tying field goal missed wide left, allowing Nicholls to hold off a late rally by the then-No. 12 Lions in the River Bell Classic last Thursday night at Strawberry Stadium. Playing in his final regular season home game, Cole Kelley completed 36-of-47 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for three scores. The reigning Walter Payton Award winner closed out the regular season as the program’s single-season and career record holder in rushing touchdowns (33-career; 16-season), total touchdowns scored (35-career; 16-season), passing yards (7,860-career; 4,382-season), passing touchdowns (66-career; 38-season), touchdowns responsible for (101-career; 54-season) and total offense (8,561-career; 4,824-season).

Path to Frisco

The winner of this game will head to Virginia to face off against No. 3 seed James Madison.

Courtesy Tallahassee Democrat

Florida A&M Rattlers (9-2, 7-1 in SWAC) 

The Rattlers are averaging 29 points per game, which is 44th in the FCS; they’re averaging 389 yards per game, which is 43rd in the FCS. Quarterback Rasean McKay has completed 192-of-323 passes (59% comp. pct.) for 2,259 yards with 20 touchdowns and four interceptions. Running back Bishop Bonnett has carried the ball 147 times for 957 yards (6.51 ypc) and five touchdowns. Wide receiver Xavier Smith has 55 receptions for 626 yards (11.38 ypc) and two touchdowns. The Rattlers have played well defensively – they’re allowing 15 points per game, which is 8th in the FCS; they’re giving up 257.5 yards per game, which is 4th in the FCS. 

Southeastern Louisiana Lions (8-3, 6-2 in SLC) 

The Lions have the top scoring offense in the FCS – they’re averaging 48 points per game. They’re churning out an eye-popping 567 yards per game, which is also the best in the FCS. Quarterback Cole Kelley has completed 339-of-457 passes (74% comp. pct.) for 4,382 yards and 38 touchdowns with six interceptions. Kelley is also the Lions’ leading rusher, having carried the ball 135 times for 442 yards (3.27 ypc) and 16 touchdowns. Wide receiver Austin Mitchell has 66 catches for 1,035 yards (15.68 ypc) and nine touchdowns. The Lions have not played well defensively. They’re allowing 32 points per game, which is 98th in the FCS. They’re giving up 436.4 yards per game, which is 104th in the FCS. 

Fearless Prediction

The Lions win a high-scoring affair at home before facing James Madison next week in Virginia.

Southeastern Louisiana 42 Florida A&M 31