While the North Dakota State Bison are rolling along as expected, the Eastern Illinois Panthers' loss to the Towson Tigers proved nobody in the tournament is safe.
The FCS playoffs are heating up, and with seven teams all vying for a shot at the championship, it's hard to imagine we've seen the last major upset of the tournament. The unpredictable nature of the playoffs makes every game worth watching, and with the talented teams and players that remain, it's going to make for an extraordinary finish.
Here is a current look at the results to this point, along with schedule information for the upcoming semifinals clashes.
The full FCS bracket can be found here at NCAA.com.
Towson 49, Eastern Illinois 39
Towson running back Terrance West stole the show, rushing for an FCS playoff-record 356 yards and five touchdowns in a stunning performance against Eastern Illinois. NCAA.com's David Mercer provided West's comical reaction to the news:
Along the way he set a new FCS playoff record for rushing yards, something he had no idea he'd done until he was asked about it after the game.
''I did?'' he asked in disbelief, explaining nonetheless that he pictured himself having a big night. ''If you picture big plays, you make big plays. So I was picturing.''
Prior to the game, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora weighed in on the back's bright future. It's safe to say West supported his claims:
After falling to a 14-0 deficit early in the first quarter, Towson battled back to take a 21-14 lead at halftime. On Saturday, Towson finds out who they will take on in the school's first semifinals game in school history.
North Dakota State 48, Coastal Carolina 14
The North Dakota State Bison did exactly what was expected of them: they dominated Coastal Carolina in a lopsided victory.
The Bison settled for a field goal on their first possession, but then punched it into the end zone to take a 17-0 lead into the second quarter.
By the game’s end, North Dakota State’s run-heavy offense had accumulated 623 yards of total offense—424 yards of which came on the ground. The Bison defense stepped up also, holding Coastal Carolina under 300 yards of offense and forcing them to punt eight times.
Bison quarterback Brock Jensen—last year’s postseason MVP—was the star of the game with 262 total yards and four touchdowns (two of which came on the ground).
In the end, the FCS powerhouse was too much for Coastal Carolina to handle. With the win, the Bison advance into the semifinals where they’ll play the winner of the Southeastern Louisiana-New Hampshire matchup.
North Dakota State is just two wins away from an undefeated season (including a win over Kansas State) and a completed three-peat.
Eastern Washington 35, Jacksonville State 24
In a battle between Eastern Washington’s high-octane offense and Jacksonville State’s talented defense, the offense won out.
Both offenses put together a very balanced performance with over 200 yards on the ground and 300 yards in the air. The difference, however, was Eastern Washington running back Quincy Forte, who rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
The Gamecocks couldn’t contain him, but they also had trouble defending Eagles wide receiver Ashton Clark who had a huge game, catching 11 passes for 181 yards and a score.
After a relatively slow first quarter, the second quarter was a scoring explosion with four touchdowns. Eventually the game became a shootout, which played to the strengths of Eastern Washington.
The Eagles survive another round in the playoffs, and will play Towson in the semifinals next weekend.
New Hampshire 20, Southeastern Louisiana 17
The New Hampshire Wildcats are officially on Cinderella notice as they are the only unseeded team left in the tournament.
They continued their impressive play (putting up over 40 points against Lafayette and No. 5 Maine) by pulling out the win against No. 4 Southeastern Louisiana thanks to a late touchdown.
New Hampshire put up close to 500 yards of total offense, and they used their huge advantage on the ground to pull of the upset. The Wildcats rushed for 203 yards compared to just 67 yards on the ground by Southeastern Louisiana.
Wildcats quarterback Sean Goldrich rushed for all three New Hampshire touchdowns, but a blocked extra point on the last score left the door open for Southeastern Louisiana to win or tie the game with 47 seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately, the Lions couldn't get into field-goal range, and were bounced out of the tournament as a result.
The Wildcats have played brilliantly so far, but their road to the final goes through No. 1 seed North Dakota State.
If the glass slipper fits.
No. 1 North Dakota State vs. New Hampshire
When: Friday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. ET
No. 3 Eastern Washington vs. No. 7 Towson
When: Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. ET
When: Saturday, Jan. 4 at 2 p.m. ET