No. 5 Sam Houston will play host to No. 12 Cal Poly in the second round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Saturday Dec. 1 at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium. Kickoff is at 3 p.m. Both teams were among a field of 20 teams and received first round byes
Sam Houston is a member of the playoff field for the sixth time (1986, 1991, 2001, 2004, 2011 and 2012). The selection marks the Bearkats' first time to be selected in consecutive seasons. SHSU reached the NCAA Division I Championship Game in Frisco last January, falling to this year's No. 1 playoff seed and defending champion North Dakota State. The Bearkats reached the semifinals in 2004 and the quarterfinals in 2001. They lost in the first round in their 1986 and 1991 appearances.
The winner of the Sam Houston vs. Cal Poly game will face the victor in the second round match-up between No. 3 seed Montana State and No. 10 Stony Brook (the Kats' second round opponent in 2011).
SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS
Sam Houston earned its second consecutive Southland Conference football championship with a 6-1 league mark in 2012. The title is SHSU's fifth as a member of the Southland and ninth overall in 97 years of football. The Bearkats also won Southland titles in 1991, 2001, 2004 and 2011. Sam Houston won the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship in 1930 and the Lone Star Conference in 1955, 1956 and 1964.
SAM HOUSTON AT BOWERS STADIUM
The Bearkats are 5-0 at home in NCAA Division I playoff action. Sam Houston defeated Northern Arizona in 2001 and Western Kentucky in 2004 in Huntsville in first round action. The 2011 national finalist Kats won three straight playoff games before record crowds at Bowers, posting victories over Stony Brook, Montana State and Montana.
SHSU brings a 13-game home winning streak into Saturday's second round contest. The streak includes the final home victory of the 2010 season, nine wins at Bowers in 2011 (six regular season and three playoffs) and a 3-0 mark at home during the 2012 regular season.
The Bearkats stand 101-42-1 all-time in the facility that opened in 1986. Sam Houston has posted perfect records at home six times - 1986 (6-0), 1987 (4-0), 1990 (4-0), 2001 (6-0), 2004 (8-0) and 2011 (9-0).
Saturday's Sam Houston vs. Cal Poly NCAA Division I playoff game will be featured nationally on ESPN3. The telecast will be the fifth SHSU football game on the ESPN family of networks in the past two years. The telecast marks the Bearkats' 17th appearance on network or regional television since the 2011 season began.
KSAM 101.7 FM will broadcast all Sam Houston games home and away again. The broadcast also may be heard anywhere in the world online at www.gobearkats.com.
KATS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
Sam Houston stands No. 5 in both the Sports Network Poll and the NCAA FCS Coaches national rankings this week. SHSU has been in the top 25 in the FCS polls a total of 23 consecutive weeks since debuting in the national poll on Sept. 9, 2011. During an 11-0 regular season, the Kats rose all the way to No. 1 just before the national playoffs. They have ranked among the FCS top 10 for 19 consecutive weeks.
SHSU AMONG NATION'S STATISTICS LEADERS
The Sam Houston offense leads FCS nationally in scoring (46.2) and stands No. 5 in rushing (294.3) and No. 6 in total offense (490.3). The defense's national rankings include No. 3 in rushing defense (68.3) and No. 5 in total defense (283.2). Sam Houston leads the Southland in rushing offense and defense, scoring and rushing defense.
TWENTY ONE ALL-SOUTHLAND BEARKATS
Sam Houston State's 2012 Southland Conference championship team produced 21 players who have earned spots on the all-league honor squad. Those awards include both "Player of the Year" recognition for running back Timothy Flanders and "Defensive Player of the Year" Darnell Taylor. Darnell and his twin brother Darius also become the first pair of twins at Sam Houston to earn all-conference recognition together.
The Bearkats' list of All-Southland players after an 8-3 overall regular season and 6-1 march to a second consecutive league title include 10 first team selections, six second team honorees and six honorable mention players.
First team offense All-Southland players from Sam Houston include Flanders, tight end T. J. Jones, offensive linemen Kaleb Hopson and Chris Rogers and all-purpose back Richard Sincere.
First team defense Bearkats are defensive lineman J. T. Cleveland, linebacker Darius Taylor, defensive backs Darnell Taylor and Dax Swanson and punter Matt Foster.
Second team all-conference Kats include quarterback Brian Bell, wide receiver Trey Diller, defensive lineman Gary Lorance and defensive backs Kenneth Jenkins and Bookie Sneed. Diller also received second team recognition as kick return specialist.
Receiving All-Southland honorable mention were running back Keshawn Hill, offensive linemen Donald Jackson and Riley Smith, defensive lineman Jarrett Brown, linebacker Jesse Beauchamp, defensive back Robert Shaw and place kicker Miguel Antonio.
Flanders and Darnell Taylor both earned their "Player of the Year" recognition for the second consecutive seasons. Flanders, Jenkins and Cleveland are three-time All-Southland selections.
Darnell Taylor, Hopson, Sincere, Swanson, Foster, Bell and Sneed each are in their second consecutive year as All-Southland honorees.
SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE'S HISTORY IN THE PLAYOFFS
Southland Conference schools own a 48-53 all-time record in the Division I playoffs, highlighted by McNeese State's 14 all-time appearances. This is the 19th time the Southland Conference has placed at least two teams in the Division I playoffs. It's the eighth time the league has placed multiple teams in the playoffs since 2000 and the third time in the last four years. Last year, Sam Houston State earned the league's AQ and Central Arkansas received an at-large berth. This year, UCA is the AQ, while Sam Houston State earned an at-large invitation. Back in 2009, co-champions Stephen F. Austin and McNeese State opened the playoffs with home games. Between 1991 and 2005, a 15-year span, the Southland put at least two teams in the playoffs 13 times. Last year, Sam Houston became the first Southland representative in the championship game since McNeese State in 2002. Southland teams have played in seven national title games at the Division I level (1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1997, 2002 and 2011) with the only win coming by former member Louisiana-Monroe against Marshall in 1987.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME IN FRISCO
The Southland Conference, in conjunction with the City of Frisco and Hunt Sports Group, is the host of the 2013 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game, which will be played at Jan. 5, 2013 at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas, which has been home to the league since 2006. This marks the third year for the game to be played in Frisco. Last year, North Dakota State defeated Southland entrant Sam Houston State 17-6, while Eastern Washington came from behind to score three times in the final 17 minutes on its way to a 20-19 win over Delaware. Both winners in Frisco have been first-time champions.
Upcoming Division I Championship Dates
Dec. 1: Second-Round Games, Campus Sites
Dec. 7-8: Quarterfinal Games, Campus Sites
Dec. 14-15: Semifinal Games, Campus Sites
Jan. 5, 2013: Championship Game; Noon, CT; ESPN2; FC Dallas Stadium, Frisco, Texas
ABOUT CAL POLY
Cal Poly, the Big Sky co-champion, runs a triple-option offense led by quarterback Andre Broadous. The senior has thrown for 1,262 yards and 18 touchdowns and has run for 446 yards and nine touchdowns. Slotback Deonte Williams leads the team in rushing with 1,488 yards and 12 touchdowns. Williams led the Big Sky in rushing and is averaging 132.5 yards per game. In their first season in the Big Sky Conference, Cal Poly rolled up a 9-2 record while leading the league in rushing offense, total offense, and scoring offense. The Mustangs started fast and won their first seven games. Cal Poly picked up a win over FBS Wyoming in the second week of the season. Both Sam Houston State and Cal Poly bring prolific rushing offenses into the game. Cal Poly's triple-option attack is the third-ranked rushing offense in the nation, averaging 333 yards per game. Sam Houston's rushing offense ranks sixth at 284 yards a game. This is the third time that Cal Poly has made it to the FCS Playoffs. In 2005, the Mustangs defeated Montana 35-21 before falling to Texas State 14-7 in the quarterfinals. The team's other playoff appearance came in an opening-round loss to Weber State in 2008. This will be the first meeting between Sam Houston State and Cal Poly. The winner will face the winner of the second-round game between Stony Brook and Montana State Dec. 8.