Eastern Washington vs. Towson: Previewing Saturday's Semifinal Matchup

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2013

Aug 31, 2013; Corvallis, OR, USA; Teammates celebrate with Eastern Washington Eagles quarterback Vernon Adams (3) after scoring a touchdown against Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s NCAA Division I subdivision semifinal between the Eastern Washington Eagles (12-2, 8-0 Big Sky) and Towson Tigers (12-2, 6-2 CAA) is shaping up to be one of the most interesting matchups football fans see all season.

While Eastern Washington has made it to the FCS semifinals three of the last four seasons, Towson has been performing at an elite level to make it this far. The Tigers beat Fordham and Eastern Illinois to advance to the semifinals, but the team is thinking bigger.

Towson wants to secure a spot in the national title game on Saturday, Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas.

Here is all the vital viewing information for the marquee matchup and a full preview of what fans should expect in this semifinal battle.

Where: Roos Field, Cheney, Wash.

When: Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2:05 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPNU

Live Stream: WatchESPN

September 29, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Towson Tigers running back Terrance West (28) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the LSU Tigers during the second quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Preview and Prediction

The battle between Towson and Eastern Washington won’t get the mainstream notoriety as the high-profile bowl games, but the action on the field in Saturday’s matchup should satisfy even the most jaded football fans.

These two teams have never faced each other before, but the Eagles are very familiar with the postseason. Not only has the team made the semifinals in three of the last four seasons, but the program also won the national title in 2010.

The expectations for Eastern Washington are through the roof.

Towson won’t go down without a fight, though. Led by one of the top running backs in the nation, Terrance West, the Tigers have won 11 straight on the road. West has amassed 2,295 yards this season, including 354 yards and five touchdowns against Eastern Illinois on Dec. 13.

The Eagles have been tough to beat this season, but the team has been susceptible to high-powered offenses. Eastern Washington will have to stack the box against West in hopes of slowing him down, but Towson’s willingness to feed the ball to the running back early and often will result in yet another big performance.

West himself took to Twitter to tell the fans he will be ready for Saturday’s challenge:


— TWEST (@Terrancewest28) December 17, 2013

As big as this moment is for both schools, the importance of this time of year for students reaches beyond the football field.

With exams coming, Towson head coach Rob Ambrose told Ron Snyder of ABC News about the off-field distractions his team faces and how he thinks his athletes will handle the pressure:

At the end of the semester is the most critical time for these student-athletes academically. At the same time, these are the most critical games we will likely ever play in the history of the school. It’s a rough combination to put on a kid between 18 and 21 years old…But, our guys are focused. They are learning to handle multiple responsibilities in times of strain and stress, and adversity seems to be something we enjoy.

The players must remain focused on the task at hand. As if school work wasn’t enough to distract players, the intense matchup will only get more interesting with the weather forecast calling for bitterly cold temperatures, according to Weather.com.

There is already snow on the ground, and that will only add more intrigue to this game.

Towson is impressive on offense, but so is Eastern Washington. Led by quarterback Vernon Adams, the Eagles are averaging over 40 points and 530 yards of total offense per game and have won 10 straight games to close the season.

Both teams have the talent to take home a victory. While Eastern Washington boasts the big-game experience that Towson lacks, the Tigers have the power of ground-and-pound ability of West and the momentum to upset the home team by securing a spot in the championship game.

Predicted Final Score: Towson 41, Eastern Washington 38

*Stats via TowsonTigers.com and Jim Allen of The Spokesman Review.