The Sports Network
By Brett Kahn, FCS Assistant Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 28th, 1:05 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Zable Stadium (12,259) -- Williamsburg, Virginia. Surface: Natural Grass. Television: None. Home Record: Weber State 4-1; William & Mary 5-0; Away Record: Weber State 3-3; William & Mary 4-2. Series Record: First meeting. Conference: Weber State - Big Sky; William & Mary - Colonial Athletic Association. Sports Network Ranking: Weber State (15); William & Mary (6). Nicknames: Weber State Wildcats; William & Mary Tribe. Coaches: Weber State - Ron McBride (32-26); William & Mary - Jimmye Laycock (198-140-2). Playoff Record: Weber State (2-3); William & Mary (4-7).
GAME NOTES: Two teams from different regions that have never faced meet up in what could be one of the most entertaining games in the first round of the 2009 FCS playoffs.
The Tribe are making their first playoff appearance since 2004 when they fell in the national semifinals to James Madison.
William & Mary fell in the regular season finale, 13-10, to Richmond, losing their chance at a share of the CAA. The teams took a 3-3 tie into the fourth quarter, but the Spiders outscored the Tribe 10-7 in the final frame for the win.
All-CAA running back Jonathan Grimes (963 yards rushing, six TDs) paces the Tribe's 26th-ranked rushing attack. The sophomore finished off back-to-back 900-yard seasons.
Quarterback R.J. Archer (2,369 yards of total offense, 18 TDs) earned All-CAA honors in his first season as William & Mary's starting quarterback. His wide receiving corps features D.J. McAulay (42 catches, 11.4 average, three TDs), Chase Hill (31 catches, 13.8 average, four TDs) and tight end Rob Varno (39 catches, 9.5 average, three TDs).
The Tribe lead the nation in rushing defense, rank second in sacks and third in total defense. The defense hasn't allowed over 17 points since an early October loss to William & Mary.
Buchanan Award nominee Adrian Tracy (64 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 10 sacks) leads the unit and is joined by CAA defensive rookie of the year, cornerback B.W. Webb (19 tackles, five interceptions), linebacker Evan Francks (74 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss) and defensive tackle Sean Lissemore (58 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss).
Weber State is making its second straight playoff appearance as an at large team from the Big Sky. The Wildcats clobbered Cal Poly, 47-14 to earn their way into the post-season field.
WSU boasts the nation's sixth-ranked passing offense, led by Payton Award candidate Cameron Higgins (3,154 yards passing, 30 TDs). Higgins ranks 13th nationally in total offense and passed for 364 yards and four touchdowns against the Mustangs.
The Wildcats' wide receiving corps is one of the best in the league and features All-American Tim Toone (77 catches, 13.7 average, 10 TDs), Mike Phillips (37 catches, 18.3 average, six TDs) and Joe Collins (44 catches, 9.3 average, four TDs). Toone caught 11 balls for 176 yards and three scores against Cal Poly and leads FCS in punt returns (21.2 average).
Payton Award candidate Trevyn Smith (979 yards rushing, seven TDs) leads the Wildcats' rushing attack and has a chance to rush for 1,000 yards for the fourth straight season.
The Wildcats took a hit to their offensive line when All-American center Kyle Mutcher went out with a leg injury against Cal Poly and is likely to miss the rest of the season.
Weber State's defense ranks 32nd nationally in scoring and has kept opponents to just 23 points in the past two games. Defensive end Kevin Linehan (57 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss), linebacker Taylor Sedillo (99 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss) and safeties Jordan Brown (90 tackles, three interceptions) and All-American Beau Hadley (71 tackles, three forced fumbles).
With the way William & Mary has performed on defense this season, the Tribe have the edge in this matchup and should be able to move the ball effectively against an average Weber State defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: William & Mary 31, Weber State 21.
11/27 13:20:06 ET