Superregional 1- #1West Liberty vs. #3 California by J. Naracon
HOW THEY GOT THERE- No.3 California comes into the matchup with a slim victory in round two, 26-21 against Shippensburg. The three losses they suffered in the regular season were non conference games. Their opponents, No.1 West Liberty gave up a number of TDs in the second round, but scored a bunch more to take the win, 84-63, and advanced to the quarterfinals.
KEY MATCHUP- This game is going to be a battle of the offense: WLS throwing the ball against California running it down the field. The Hilltoppers are ranked number one in total offense in the nation, mostly because of their passing game averaging 382.18 ypg. The Vulcans will have to fight back on the ground with rushing, which so far has accumulated 2087 yards and 24 touchdowns. More specifically, what to watch for will be California’s rushing leaders: Bacco (629+ yards), Brown (615+ yards), and Portis (383+ yards) against West Liberty’s key players in passing/receiving: Amedro (4580 passing yards), Travis (1055+ receiving yards), and Walls (1176+ receiving yards).
PREDICTION- Along with home field advantage, West Liberty is a team that has players shattering records left and right. Zach Amedro alone has set two records in the WVIAC for passing yards and touchdowns in a season (47). California is a very skilled team as well, but I don’t think they can compare to the Hilltoppers’ offensive drive. I give this game to West Liberty in a blowout victory 52-18.
Super Regional 2- #1 University of North Alabama vs. #2 Carson-Newman by Brice Burge
HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Lions were able to double up Arkansas Tech 70-35 at home while the Eagles put away the third Gulf South Conference team of West Alabama. UNA won the GSC this year, losing the final game of the season to UWA while Carson-Newman won the Southern Athletic Conference. These two teams met up earlier in the season with UNA winning 31-14.
KEY MATCHUP: Preston Parker, TJ Porter, and Mico McSwain vs. the Eagle secondary. The top three WR’s for the Lions have been lighting up the scorching DB’s all year, including combining for 255 yards on 21 catches in the week 2 contest of these two teams. Parker and Porter are dealing from recent injuries (Porter receiving a concussion in the regional semifinals) which should help the Eagles who were last in the SAC and ranked 129 in the country. However, it the Eagles can shut down the passing game, the defense can stop the run, as CN gives up only 109.8 yards on the ground a game.
PREDICTION: The biggest key to this game is Time of Possession, because Carson-Newman can keep the highly potent offense of the Lions off the field. The Eagles will avenge their second week loss with some big yards from RB’s Wakefield and Inman and QB Good and win their first playoff game against UNA since 1997. Carson-Newman 30 North Alabama 21
Super Regional 3- #1 University of Minnesota Duluth vs. #2 Grand Valley State University by Brice Burge
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Both teams won big games against quality opponents last week with the Bulldogs whomping RMAC champs Nebraska Kearney 42-7 and the Lakers getting sweet revenge for their one loss of the regular season against the Hillsdale Chargers 44-27. Both teams won their respective conferences with a 10-1 record. These teams are no strangers of each other, as they fought each other in last year’s regional final with the Bulldogs winning 19-13 in 2OT.
KEY MATCHUP: Berezik and Gates vs. the Bulldog front seven. The two tailbacks have been solid for the Lakers as they average 161.2 ypg between the two of them but also allows Harlon Hill candidate Brad Iciek to do a solid job at QB. Last year’s playoff game against the UMD proved that an uncomfortable Iciek can lead to problems. The Lakers have had only two game-clinching fourth quarter drives this year, one at Ferris State and one at home versus Northern Michigan. However in the regional semifinals, the ‘Dogs showed the strength to handle a solid running team in the Lopers on their home turf, holding UNK to only 158 yards.
PREDICTION: It actually looks like Hillsdale will get the last laugh here, as their regular season win over GVSU gave UMD the higher seed. The home field, plus the injury depleted Laker team just cannot hold up to the #1 seed in the Midwest. The Grand Valley Revenge Tour gets derailed by the Repeat Express. 34-24 Minnesota Duluth
Superregional 4- #2 Northwestern Missouri State vs #1Central Washington by J. Naracon
HOW THEY GOT THERE- CWU was given the # 1 seed after an undefeated season. NWM State entered the playoffs with the #2 seed. NWM State’s only regular season loss came during the first week of play from Abilene Christian, which NWM State just defeated in the previous round 35-10. Both NWM State and CWU enter the game with at least a three touchdown win over their previous opponents
KEY MATCHUP- It’s no surprise the test for this game will be the Bearcat’s offense against the Wildcat’s defense. NWM State has been superior in rushing and passing touchdowns, collecting 29 rushing TDs and 39 through the air. On the other hand, CWU’s total defense is ranked second in the nation. They have sacked the quarterback 25 times, and in the previous game against Tarleton State, held the rushing offense to minus 14 yards. Both teams should make this game an interesting one to view.
PREDICTION- The Bearcat’s defense will be a tough matchup for the Wildcat’s offense, despite the previous key matchup. Northwestern ranks higher in a many aspects of the game, so I give this game to them. NWMS 20 CWU 17