WHAT: FCS quarterfinals

WHERE: Stewart Stadium, Ogden, Utah


KICKOFF: 8 p.m. Friday

ALL-TIME SERIES: First meeting

LAST WEEK: Maine defeated Jacksonville State, 55-27; Weber State defeated Southeast Missouri, 48-23


WHEN MAINE HAS THE BALL: As always the Black Bears are going to try to establish the run first with Ramon Jefferson (884 yards, seven touchdowns) and Joe Fitzpatrick (438 yards, three TDs). They’ve averaged 166.5 rushing yards over the last four games, with Jefferson averaging 97.5. QB Chris Ferguson is going to take his shots downfield to Earnest Edwards, Micah Wright, Jaquan Blair, Devin Young and Andre Miller. Tight end Drew Belcher could also play a key role in the passing game in the intermediate routes. Ferguson has to be careful because Weber State prefers to play man-to-man but often switches to a three-deep zone defense and disguises it well. If Ferguson reads the defense right, he has receivers who will get open.

WHEN WEBER STATE HAS THE BALL: Much like Maine, the Wildcats love to establish the run. They average 152.3 rushing yards per game and won’t be deterred by Maine’s national defensive ranking (second) against the run. Redshirt freshman Josh Davis leads the way with 1,350 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. But the Wildcats got a huge boost last week from senior Treshawn Garrett, who returned after missing three games with a hamstring injury and gained 134 yards. QB Jake Constantine is coming off a four-touchdown pass performance last week. The Wildcats have been led this season by Rashid Shaheed, who caught 36 passes with five touchdowns, and Darryl Denby, who caught 31 with six touchdowns.

KEY STAT: 10 blocked kicks by Maine this year: four punts and six place-kicks.

OUTLOOK: Expect nothing short of a hard-hitting game between two great defenses. Both thrive on defensive pressure and a lot of man-to-man coverage in the secondary. Weber State creates turnovers (29, on 17 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries for a turnover margin of plus-11, eighth-best in the nation) and scores points off of them (96). So Maine is going to have to protect the ball better than it has lately (four fumbles and four interceptions in the last four games). These teams are among the best in the nation at disrupting offensive plays. Maine is second in sacks (44) and sixth in tackles for a loss (98) and the Wildcats rank seventh in sacks (39) and 13th in tackles for a loss (97). The teams do run effectively – Maine rushed for 268 yards last week, Weber State for 199 – and the team that establishes the run will be in good shape. Special teams will be a factor, as well. The Wildcats rank fourth in the nation with a 26.7-yard average on kickoff returns, with Rashid Shaheed averaging 36.9 with two touchdowns. Maine counters with Earnest Edwards, who averages 28.4 yards a return with two touchdowns.

OF NOTE: Neither team has ever advanced to the FCS semifinals. Maine is 0-3 in the quarterfinals and Weber State is 0-1. … Maine is as healthy as it has been in a while with no starters expected to be out with injuries … Maine has won five games in a row; Weber State has won seven straight … The second quarter bears watching. Maine has outscored its opponents 116-57 in the second quarter this year, Weber State 117-69 … Maine is 8-0 when rushing for over 100 yards this year … The Wildcats have led their opponents in time of possession in 10 consecutive games … Maine is ranked 12th and 14th in the two national polls, Weber State is ranked third and fourth.

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