Published November 18, 2012
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – With Week 12 of the 2012 season in the books, whether people like it or not, there are now just 20 teams left to compete for the FCS national championship.
No matter how bizarre, eye-opening or pedestrian the numbers have been this season, they always seem to matter.
With all the excitement and anguish that Selection Sunday gave fans, coaches, players and many more, it's never too late to recognize some of the most important statistics that helped a playoff team greatly.
For all the promise in its teams, some things can never be ignored.
Whether it be scores, statistics or standout performances, the numbers never lie.
Here are some important figures for the 20 teams in the FCS playoffs that should not be overlooked:
North Dakota State's defense ranks first in the FCS against the run, allowing a stingy 67 yards per game. The Bison have allowed just three rushing touchdowns this season, which ranks first in the FCS.
Old Dominion ranks first in the FCS in total offense with 538 yards per game. In 11 games, the Monarchs have totaled 5,921 yards - the most in the FCS - and they have scored 65 touchdowns, which ties for No. 1 with Sam Houston State.
Colgate ranks fifth in the FCS in rushing offense with 294 yards per game. The Raiders lead the FCS with 47 rushing touchdowns this season, and quarterback Gavin McCarney and running back Jordan McCord have each scored 22 touchdowns on the ground.
Eastern Washington has scored points in 38 of the team's 41 trips to the red zone. The 93 percent red zone efficiency mark is tied for eighth in the FCS. In all, the Eagles have 15 rushing touchdowns, 10 passing touchdowns and 13 field goals inside an opponent's 20-yard line.
Central Arkansas ranks tied for seventh in the FCS in tackles for loss with 84 in 11 games. The Bears average over 7.6 tackles for loss per game, which is the highest number among FCS playoff teams.
Cal Poly might have the FCS' No. 3-ranked rushing offense, but the Mustangs also rank No. 1 in passing efficiency with a 176.38 rating. The triple option attack has been extremely efficient this season and has thrown for 18 touchdowns versus three interceptions in 11 games.
Wagner ranks No. 1 in the FCS in kickoff returns. The Seahawks have returned 33 kicks for 883 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games and average nearly 26.8 yards per return.
Appalachian State is the highest-ranked FCS playoff team in net punting average. The Mountaineers rank second in the FCS with 39.9 yards per punt and have punted the ball 54 times this season. Senior punter Sam Martin ranks second in the FCS in averaging over 45.5 yards per boot and over 4.8 punts per game.
Bethune-Cookman is the No. 1-ranked team in the FCS in turnovers gained. The Wildcats have forced 34 turnovers in 11 games, including 15 fumble recoveries and three touchdowns and 19 interceptions and one touchdown.
Eastern Illinois receiver Erik Lora set a new single-season FCS record with 124 receptions after hauling in nine catches for 52 yards and one touchdown in the Panthers' 48-30 loss at Central Arkansas in Week 12. In 11 games this season, Lora leads the FCS in receptions per game with 11.3 and receiving yards per game with 139.2.
South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner has rushed for 1,703 yards this season and averages 154 yards per game, good for No. 2 in the FCS. In comparison, the rest of his team has combined to rush for 146 yards and two touchdowns compared to 10 for Zenner.
Wofford fullback Eric Breitenstein leads the FCS in active career rushing yards at 5,348. In 48 career games at Wofford, the senior has carried the ball 866 times, averaged 111 yards per game and nearly 6.2 yards per carry. He also ranks No. 1 among active players in career rushing touchdowns with 62.
New Hampshire has earned a bid to the FCS playoffs for nine consecutive seasons, which is the longest current streak in the FCS. However, the Wildcats are 1-3 in home playoff games and 5-7 in road playoff contests all-time.
Georgia Southern has the FCS' top-ranked rushing offense with 392 yards per game. The Eagles have totaled 4,314 rushing yards and 44 rushing touchdowns this season. As a result of its triple option offense, GSU ranks second to last in the FCS with 61.55 passing yards per game.
Coastal Carolina has lost four games this season versus opponents with a combined record of 33-11. Two losses came versus FBS Toledo (8-3) and Eastern Kentucky (8-3). The remaining losses came against Appalachian State (8-3) and Stony Brook (9-2), both of whom also are in the FCS playoffs.
Montana State has totaled 35 sacks this season, which ties for fourth in the FCS. Defensive end Caleb Schreibeis has 11 sacks in 10 games, also good for No. 4 in the FCS.
Stony Brook running back and Walter Payton Award candidate Miguel Maysonet leads the FCS in rushing with 156 yards per game. The senior has carried the ball 223 times for 1,721 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Seawolves average 290 yards per game on the ground.
Villanova finished 2-9 in 2011. This season, the Wildcats are 8-3 and earned a trip to the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years. Redshirt freshman quarterback John Robertson and running back Kevin Monangai have accounted for 2,126 rushing yards and 24 rushing touchdowns in 11 games.
Sam Houston State leads the FCS in scoring offense with 44.55 points per game. The Bearkats also rank 14th in the FCS in scoring defense, allowing 19 points per game.
Illinois State has the FCS' third-ranked pass efficiency defense, with a 98.09 rating. In 11 games, opponents are averaging just 175 passing yards and 5.8 yards per attempt. The Redbirds have allowed just 10 passing touchdowns this season.