The College Football Playoff field was set last Sunday, but the first and real Division 1 college football playoff has been going on for weeks before whittling down the field to its final four. On Saturday, other than the Army-Navy Game and the Heisman Trophy presentation, it was a day for the Football Championship Subdivision to shine, and boy did it.
Quarterfinal action was packed with tense moments and close games, providing a reminder of just how fun this level can be. At the end of the day, the semifinal match-ups were set in stone on the FCS playoff bracket; New Hampshire will host Illinois State in one semifinal, and North Dakota State will host Sam Houston State in the other.
New Hampshire’s defense gave up 566 yards to Chatanooga on Friday night, but a 61-yard touchdown pass from Sean Goldrich to R.J. Harris proved to be the difference in a 35-30 victory for the top seed in the tournament. Saturday was not short on the drama either. Three-time defending champion North Dakota State and Coastal Carolina traded scores all game long, but the Bison got the last word with a 45-yard touchdown run by John Crockett for a 39-32 lead following a two-point conversion. The defense did the rest in the game of the day.
Sam Houston State’s victory at Villanova was a back-and-forth event as well. Sam Houston State head coach K.C. Keeler was very familiar with Villanova, as the former head coach of Delaware. His quarterback, Jared Johnson passed for 303 yards and three touchdowns to send Sam Houston to the national semifinal against another familiar foe, North Dakota State. The two schools met in the national championship game in 2011 and 2012.
North Dakota State will host Sam Houston State on Friday, December 19 at 8:00 p.m. eastern on ESPN2. New Hampshire will host Illinois State on Saturday, December 20 at 2:00 p.m. eastern on EPSNU.
North Dakota State is looking to win its fourth straight FCS national championship, a feat that has not been accomplished at the FCS level since the split of Division 1.