When: Friday, December 7, 8:00 PM
Where: Stewart Stadium, Ogden, UT
TV/Streaming: ESPN2, WatchESPN (subscription req’d)
Maine Black Bears
Colonial Athletic Association
FCS Sagarin Rating: 25
How They Got Here: Maine got 4 first half touchdown passes from Chris Ferguson to lead 42-14 at the break on the way to beating Jacksonville State 55-27. The CAA Champions put up its highest point total of the season in the second round win. The Black Bears offense was led by Chris Ferguson (5 touchdown passes), Ramon Jefferson (186 yards rushing, 2TD) and Earnest Edwards (49 yards receiving, 2 TD, 1 rushing TD). On defense, the Black Bears sacked Jacksonville State quarterback Zerrick Cooper 8 times.
Best Win: vs. FBS Western Kentucky (31-28)
Worst Loss: vs. William & Mary (27-20)
Other Key Outcomes: vs. Jacksonville State (55-27 W), vs. Towson (35-28 W), vs. Elon (27-26 W), vs. Yale (35-14 L)
Playoff Floor: Weber State is the two seed for a reason. Their defense and the elevation of Ogden could be too much for Maine to overcome.
Playoff Ceiling: Maine has the balance on both sides of the ball to knock off Weber State. A win this week sets up a return trip out west next week to either Davis, California or Cheney, Washington. Their road probably goes no farther than the semifinal.
Key Player This Week: QB Chris Ferguson eliminated any concerns about his ailing shoulder early in the second round win over Jacksonville State. Before the game had even gotten out of the first quarter, Ferguson had three touchdown passes and the Black Bears jumped out to a 21-0 lead that would shrink to seven before growing to as much as 28. Ferguson only threw the ball 26 times but he threw five touchdowns and did not turn the ball over. If he plays as efficient this week, the Black Bears will be in good position to pull the upset.
Fantasy Bonus Baby This Week: RB Ramon Jefferson carried the load for the Black Bears offense on the ground last week. With 26 carries and 186 yards and two touchdowns, Jefferson led the offense to just under 34 minutes of possession. In a tough environment against a tough defense, it will again be on the Freshman Jefferson to carry the load. He should be near 25 carries and 100 yards with a touchdown this week against a tough opponent.
Weber State Wildcats
Big Sky Conference
FCS Sagarin Rating: 11
How They Got Here: Weber State started slow, but eventually got going and scored 34 straight points on the way to a 48-23 win over Southeast Missouri State in round two. The Wildcat defense picked off four passes and added four sacks to frustrate the Redhawk offense. On offense, Jake Constantine threw for 199 yards and four touchdowns. The Wildcats also rushed for 199 yards for a perfectly balanced offense
Best Win: vs. Eastern Washington (14-6)
Worst Loss: vs. Northern Arizona (28-24)
Other Key Outcomes: vs. Southeast Missouri State (48-23 W), vs. Montana St. (34-24 W)
Key Player This Week: QB Jake Constantine is the western version of Maine’s Chris Ferguson. Both have done good jobs leading their offense, even without the eye popping stats that some quarterbacks put up. If Constantine can play another clean game, the Wildcats should win. They are slightly more talented overall than Maine, and they have the home field advantage.
Fantasy Bonus Baby This Week: RB Josh Davis has run for 1350 yards and nine touchdowns on the year. He did not have a big week against Southeast Missouri State last week, but the Wildcats should lean on him hard this week. His stat line should match Ramon Jefferson’s this week, so look for 25 carries, over 100 yards and at least one touchdown.
Jamie: These teams are fairly evenly matched. Last year, the Wildcats bowed out against the CAA champion at this point in the season. When this game gets tight late, the Wildcats have the home field advantage that will give them the win. Weber State 27, Maine 24
Kent: The Weber State defense has been its strength all season long and playing at home in Ogden will be a strength for the Wildcats in this match-up. Weber State has the playoff experience and will be just too strong for the Black Bears to over come. Weber State 31 Maine 21
Chuck: How good is Weber State? Sure, they are a tough out at home – look at their 14-6 win over Eastern Washington – but I’m not sure they’ve faced such a fired-up, focused Maine team that they’re going to be seeing on Friday evening. This is the best matchup of the quarterfinals and will be very close – and I think Maine’s momentum carries them through. Maine 31, Weber State 28
Jamie is a proud 2002 graduate of James Madison University. He’s witnessed the growth of the program from no one in the stands in 1998, to the hiring of Mickey Matthews, to the 2004 National Championship, to the 2008 team, to the struggles in the early 2010s, and finally the rebuild under Mike Houston. He also allegedly really enjoys Washington, DC-based Stanley Cup winners.
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