FCS Quarterfinal-Round Playoff
The Matchup - No. 6 seed UC Davis (10-2) at No. 3 seed Eastern Washington (10-2)
Kickoff - 4 p.m. ET at Roos Field (8,600) in Cheney, Washington
Coverage - ESPN3
Series - Eastern Washington leads 7-0 (last meeting: EWU won at home 59-20 on Nov. 10)
Coaches - UC Davis: Dan Hawkins (15-8, two seasons); Eastern Washington: Aaron Best (17-6, two seasons)
3 Players to Watch - UC Davis: QB Jake Maier (338 of 519, 3,697 yards, 32 TDs, 8 INTs), WR Keelan Doss (109 receptions, 1,191 yards, 9 TDs), LB Mason Moe (73 tackles, 17 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 4 takeaways); Eastern Washington: QB Eric Barriere (135 of 231, 1,665 yards, 14 TDs, 5 INTs; 507 rushing yards, 6 TDs), RB Sam McPherson (150 carries, 1,145 yards, 11 TDs; 20 receptions, 169 yards, 1 TD), LB Ketner Kupp (81 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 PBU)
The Skinny - UC Davis and Eastern Washington shared the Big Sky title with Weber State, the conference's automatic qualifier. Both teams re led by a coach who's in his second season leading his alma mater. While EWU is in the quarterfinals for the 10th time in program history, UC Davis is coming off a 23-16 win over UNI that was its first-ever FCS playoff game. The two teams met on Nov. 10 at "The Inferno," with the host Eagles overcoming a 10-0 deficit to win going away, 59-20. The Eagles have made good adjustments at halftime this season. Their offense is balanced, averaging 271 rushing yards and 272 passing yards. WR Nsimba Webster (63 receptions, 1,047 yards, 6 TDs) is the leading receiver and the running backs often catch passes out of the backfield. The defense does well to contain opponents, and DT Jay-Tee Tiuli (34 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 4 sacks), the Big Sky defensive player of the year, commands double-teams. PK Roldan Alcobendas has made all 15 of his field goal attempts with a long of 47 yards. Everything about UC Davis' season is impressive except for the EWU loss. The Eagles ran 94 plays and gained 669 yards in the rout. In the rematch, the Aggies' undersized defensive line has to handle EWU's physical O-line better. Maier, the Big Sky offensive player of the year, has thrown at least three TD passes in eight games this season. RBs Ulonzo Gilliam, who's caught 50 passes, and Tehran Thomas form a terrific tag-team in the backfield, which keeps defenses honest as Maier works passes to Doss, who high-points catches with the best of them.
Up Next - The winner will play either No. 7 seed Maine (9-3) or No. 2 seed Weber State (10-2) in the semifinals Dec. 14 or 15.
Prediction - It's safe to say the rematch will be closer in the quarterfinals, but the Eagles won't stray from their successful game plan. UC Davis' tremendous 100th season of football comes to an end. Eastern Washington, 31-24.