The Sports Network
By Sean Shapiro, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 3rd, 2:05 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bobcat Stadium (17,200) - Bozeman, Montana. Surface: FieldTurf. Television: ESPN3.com\\ESPN Game Plan. Announcers: Trey Bender and Jay Taylor. Home Record: New Hampshire 5-0; Montana State 5-1. Away Record: New Hampshire 2-3; Montana State 4-1. Neutral Record: 1-0; Montana State 0-0. Series Record: Montana State (1-0). Last Meeting: November 27, 1976 (Montana State def. Northern Iowa, 17-16 at Montana State). Conference: New Hampshire - Colonial Athletic Association; Montana State - Big Sky. Nicknames: New Hampshire Wildcats; Montana State Bobcats. Sports Network/Fathead.com Ranking: New Hampshire (11); Montana State (7). NCAA Playoff Seedings: New Hampshire (NS); Montana State (NS). Head Coaches: New Hampshire - Sean McDonnell (13th year 96-61 at New Hampshire and Overall); Montana State - Rob Ash (5th year 38-19 at Montana State; 32nd year 214-118-5 Overall). All-Time Record: New Hampshire (560-439-55); Montana State (442-448-33). Playoff Records: New Hampshire (6-9); Montana State (4-4). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: New Hampshire 9 (1991, 94, 2004-10); Montana State 5 (1984, 2002-03, 06, 2010).
GAME NOTES: New Hampshire is making its eighth consecutive playoff appearance, posting a 6-1 record in its first game of the postseason. Montana State is making its second consecutive appearance, and is looking to rebound from a loss to North Dakota State last season.
New Hampshire played a tough schedule the final three weeks of the regular season, posting a 2-1 mark against James Madison, Towson and Maine - all teams that made the playoffs. During that stretch, and as it has all season, New Hampshire's offense has been explosive.
Led by quarterback and CAA Offensive Player of the Year Kevin Decker, the Wildcats move the ball consistently (444.1 ypg) and average more than 30 points a game (33.6 ppg). However, the offensive explosion is almost a necessity, as the Wildcats' defense struggles, often turning games into shootouts.
If New Hampshire is looking for a shootout, Montana State is more than prepared to trade scoring drives. Statistically, the Bobcats are nearly identical to the Wildcats, ranking 10th in total offense (440.4 ypg) and 16th in scoring offense (34.2 ppg).
Quarterback DeNarius McGhee (236.7 ypg) and running back Cody Kirk (112.1 ypg) are an explosive duo, and led the Bobcats to a 30-plus point performance in all nine wins. However, in the two losses the Bobcats scored a combined 20 points, something they'll be looking to reverse after losing the season finale to Montana.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana State 41, New Hampshire 37.
11/30 14:16:10 ET