The Thunderbirds (9-2; 7-1) will battle the Wildcats (10-2; 7-1) for the second time this season at the Eccles Coliseum on Saturday, Dec. 2. SUU doubled-up WSU 32-16, when the teams met in Ogden on Oct. 14. The schools technically shared a Big Sky championship, but the T-Birds got home field advantage because of the head-to-head victory. WSU leads the all-time series 16-8, but SUU has won four of the last five matchups.
SUU enters the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak, earning them the No. 8 national seed. The 2017 campaign has been historic for SUU as they’ve set their record for wins in a season, including four victories over ranked opponents. Saturday’s showdown will be SUU’s first ever home FCS playoff game.
Senior quarterback Patrick Tyler leads the SUU offense which ranked second in the Big Sky with 35.5 points per game. Tyler has tallied 2,669 passing yards, 20 TD and 12 interceptions this year. With leading rusher James Felila sidelined due to injury, sophomore running back Jay Green assumes the starting role. Green has rushed for 633 yards and 13 TD. Freshman wide receiver Landen Measom leads the team with 601 yards and four TD.
The T-Bird defense is fifth in the conference, allowing 27.8 points per game. Senior linebacker Mike Needham leads the team with 89 total tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss. Senior defensive lineman Chance Bearnson leads the team with four sacks. Senior cornerback Jarmaine Doubs leads the T-Birds with four interceptions.
The Wildcats have won six games in a row, including their first-round victory over Western Illinois 21-19. Senior quarterback Stefan Cantwell leads the fourth-best scoring offense in the Big Sky at 34.5 points per game. Cantwell has passed for 2,441 yards, 21 TD and five interceptions. He has the highest efficiency rating in the Big Sky at 154.8. Junior running back Treshawn Garrett leads the team with 709 yards and six TD. Senior tight end Andrew Vollert has tallied 669 receiving yards and four TD.
WSU boasts the top scoring defense in the conference, only surrendering 16.8 points per game. Junior defensive back Jordan Preator and senior cornerback Xequille Harry lead the Wildcats with four interceptions each. Junior linebacker LeGrand Toia leads the team with 67 total tackles.
Students will not be able to get into the game for free with their student IDs, since the game is being coordinated by the NCAA and not SUU. The athletic department purchased 2,000 tickets to be given to students, and can be picked up at the America First Event Center ticket office with a valid student ID while supplies last. Tickets for standing room only are the only ticket purchasing options still available, and can be purchased here for $7 each.
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