(11) Southeastern Louisiana (9-3) vs. (19) Sam Houston State (8-4) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Elliott T. Bowers Stadium (12,593) – Huntsville, Texas.
Surface: RealGrassPro. Television: ESPN3.com. Announcers: Forrest Conoly, Drew
Fellios. Home Record: SE Louisiana 6-0; Sam Houston State 5-1. Road Record: SE
Louisiana 3-3; Sam Houston State 2-3. Neutral Record: SE Louisiana 0-0; Sam
Houston State 1-0. Conference: SE Louisiana – Southland; Sam Houston State –
Southland. Nicknames: SE Louisiana Lions; Sam Houston State Bearkats. Series
Record: Sam Houston State (10-6). Last Meeting: Dec. 7, 2013 (SE Louisiana,
30-29 at SE Louisiana – FCS Playoffs). Series Streak: SE Louisiana has won the
last two meetings. Head Coaches: SE Louisiana – Ron Roberts (2nd season, 17-9
at SE Louisiana; 7 seasons, 64-25 overall); Sam Houston State – K.C. Keeler
(1st season, 8-4 at Sam Houston State; 21st season, 181-76-1 overall). Playoff
Records: SE Louisiana (1-1); Sam Houston State (9-6). Previous FCS Playoff
Appearances: SE Louisiana 1 (2013); Sam Houston State 7 (1986, 1991, 2001,
2004, 2011-13). Current Playoff Streak: SE Louisiana has split its two FCS
playoff games; Sam Houston State has won seven of its last 10 FCS playoff

GAME NOTES: Intraconference matchups usually don’t happen in the first round,
but Southland Conference co-champions Sam Houston State and Southeastern
Louisiana didn’t meet in the regular season, so the NCAA selection committee
has made it happen in a dandy choice. In fact, the two teams met in the second
round of the playoffs a year ago, with Southeastern prevailing at home, 30-29,
on a last-minute touchdown.

Southeastern entered the season ranked third and has been trying to get back to
an elite level since back-to-back losses in mid-September. All three of the
Lions’ losses have come on the road.

There’s no denying what the Lions want to do – put the ball in the hands of
quarterback Bryan Bennett and let him make plays. He’s been a little more
dangerous as a runner (655 yards, 13 TDs) as he’s completed only 52.3 percent
of his passes in a senior season that hasn’t matched his exploits of a year
ago. Sam Houston is strong against the run and Bennett will have to contend
with defensive end P.J. Hall, only a freshman but a future All-American.

Southeastern linebacker Isiah Corbett didn’t finish the season with a flourish,
but he’s the headliner on an experienced defense. Sam Houston will go right at
the Lions with their speed, especially senior running back Keshawn Hill, who is
coming off a 242-yard, two-touchdown effort against Central Arkansas, and dual-
threat signal caller Jared Johnson, who is terrific in the open field.

Bearkats first-year coach K.C. Keeler knows all about the playoffs, having won
the 2003 national title and appearing in two other finals at Delaware.

The survivor of this matchup will play in the second round at No. 3 seed
Jacksonville State on Dec. 6.

PREDICTION: Sam Houston has won 26 of its last 27 games at Bowers Stadium. Oh,
is this a rugged assignment for the Lions, but they will get it done.
Southeastern Louisiana, 28-24.