Delete - Merge USouth Dakota State at
North Dakota state 2:30 p.m.
New Hampshire at
Wofford 2 p.m.
Central Arkansas at
Georgia Southern 2 p.m.
Coastal Carolina at
Old Dominion 2 p.m.
Cal Poly at
Sam Houston State 4 p.m.
Stony Brook at
Montana State 7 p.m.
Illinois State at
Appalachian State 2 p.m.
Eastern Washington 6 p.m.
Saturday in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, all three Southern Conference teams are going to have to think out of the box.
For Georgia Southern, it's the nation's most efficient running game against the passing game of Central Arkansas.
For Appalachian State, it's a spread-out passing game against an Illinois State balanced attack.
And for Wofford, it's a million different running plays agains a million New Hampshire passing routes.
Bears meet option
Georgia Southern (8-3) leads the nation in rushing with 392 yards per game.
When the Eagles face Central Arkansas (9-2) Saturday at 2 p.m. in Paulson Stadium, the Bears will be exposed to something a little bit different.
"We contrast styles with almost everybody else," said GSU coach Jeff Monken, who is equally concerned with UCA's more common approach.(We are) so different from the norm of college football, but they're speed and their athleticism is awfully impressive."
The GSU defensive backfield has had a tough time this season against passing games like Georgia and Appalachian State, but, for the first time in the last three years, defensive end Dion Dubose will be on the field in the playoffs to help out with pressure up front.
Dubose was injured against Western Carolina during the 2012 regular season and missed the semifinal runs of 2010 and 2011.
"It was tough. It was really tough," Dubose said. "It gave me more motivation to get back this year."
A little tricky
Wofford (8-3) plays host to New Hampshire (8-3) on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Wildcats aren't afraid to get creative on offense.
"They have all the bells and whistles as far as reverses and running with the quarterback. They do a great job with that," said Wofford coach Mike Ayers. "But they throw the ball all over the lot. As far as pass routes go they've got every pass route known to man. We'll be lucky if we hit them all by the time we're finished."
Wofford gets creative too. It just stays on the ground.
"Oftentimes you hear announcers during the game talk about running the ball to set up the play-action pass," said fullback Eric Breitenstein, who led the SoCon with 1,653 rushing yards in 2012. "Well, a lot of what we do is running the ball to set up another run play."
For Breitenstein, the fact that the Wildcats know what to expect may not matter.
"People know it's coming," he said, "but it's pretty hard to stop the way we do it."
A different approach
Appalachian State (9-2) will see something unconventional when it hosts Illinois State (8-3).
Unlike the heavy run games of GSU, Wofford and The Citadel, and the heavy passing games of Elon and Western Carolina that the Mountaineers see each week in the SoCon, they'll see an Illinois State team that is unconventional because, well, it's conventional.
The Redbirds pass for 247 and rush for 136 on average.
Appalachian State was eliminated by a similar team in 2011, when it was knocked out in the first round by Maine, 34-12.
This time, though, the Mountaineers have a better mindset.
"Last year, I don't really know that our guys were all that excited about being in the playoffs," ASU coach Jerry Moore said. "This year, they're a football team. They're more in command of things. They're excited about the opportunity to play."
Appalachian faces Illinois State Saturday at 2 p.m., in Boone, N.C.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.