Philadelphia, PA – If this year's FCS playoffs have proved anything, it's that North Dakota State and Sam Houston State are once again the top teams who should play for the national title.
After all, the schools met in the 2011 FCS national title game, in which the Bison outlasted the Bearkats, 17-6.
Just like last season, the statistics and numbers surrounding both teams, simply never lie.
Sam Houston State and its high-powered offense survived a second-half comeback versus Eastern Washington and racked up 418 rushing yards on the way to a 45-42 victory. The Bearkats seek deep revenge after the 2011 title defeat in which they managed just 95 rushing yards and 115 passing yards and didn't score an offensive touchdown.
Receivers Trey Diller, Richard Sincere and Chance Nelson should give the Bison secondary, led by All-America cornerback Marcus Williams, plenty to worry about.
North Dakota State and its relentless steel wall of a defense lead the FCS in just about every major defensive category. The extra time to prepare for the Bearkats should help coach Craig Bohl and his staff, who are the masters of second-half adjustments.
The Bison won't "wow" you offensively, but they will be extremely physical and have the ability to grind out long, forceful scoring drives.
Either way, there's no question, whichever team comes out on top in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 5 will get there thanks to some type of numbers that never will lie.
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 from Week 16 of the 2012 FCS season - the national semifinals - that should not be overlooked:
In Sam Houston State's crazy semifinal victory at Eastern Washington, the Bearkats rushed for 418 yards, but passed for only 85 yards. EWU totaled 523 yards of offense - most came in the second half - although the team managed just 42 rushing yards.
At halftime, Sam Houston State led, 35-0, having totaled 292 rushing yards. Eastern Washington managed just eight rushing yards and 0.6 yards per carry in the first half.
Sam Houston State running back Timothy Flanders finished the game with 231 rushing yards on 34 carries and quarterback Brian Bell rushed for 59 yards and scored two first-half touchdowns.
In Georgia Southern's 23-20 semifinal loss, the Eagles became the only team to score an offensive touchdown versus North Dakota State in the Bison's three playoff games. The last time the Bison gave up an offensive touchdown in the playoffs also came against Georgia Southern on Dec. 17, 2011.
NDSU entered its contest Friday night having allowed just three rushing touchdowns on the season. Georgia Southern, however, totaled two rushing touchdowns and 271 rushing yards in the team's second straight defeat in the FCS semifinals at the Fargodome.
One week after EWU quarterback Kyle Padron threw for a school-record six touchdown passes in the national quarterback, his younger teammate, Vernon Adams, accomplished that same feat in just one half Saturday. Overall, he completed 14-of-26 passes for 364 yards and six touchdown strikes, but also threw two interceptions.
Georgia Southern has now lost in the semifinals in three straight appearances, although the Eagles have an all-time FCS playoff record of 45-13, which is the best in the FCS. In its last three semifinal contests, GSU has been outscored 52-17 in the second half.
North Dakota State enters the FCS national championship game with a 27-2 record over the last two years.
Sam Houston State also heads to the FCS national title game for the second straight year and has a 25-4 record during that time.
Georgia Southern converted place-kicker Drew Ruggles, who is also a member of the Eagles' soccer team, attempted the first field goal of his college career, a 50-yard try which was blocked, in the semifinal defeat. Ruggles registered three goals and four assists in 16 games this season on the soccer field.
As a team, Georgia Southern finished the season with four different players attempting field goals. Combined, they converted just 8-of-22 attempts.
Eastern Washington All-America receiver Brandon Kaufman set the FCS single- season receiving yards record with 1,851 yards on 93 receptions. Delaware's Eddie Conti (1998) held the previous record with 1,712 receiving yards on 91 receptions.
In three playoff games this season, Kaufman registered 28 catches for 581 yards and six touchdowns. He finished the season with back-to-back three- touchdown games.
In semifinal action this weekend, Georgia Southern defensive tackle Brent Russell finished his career as the Eagles' all-time sack leader with 25 and Sam Houston State cornerback Dax Swanson became the school's all-time leader in career interceptions with 14.