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Under the old format of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, had Eastern Washington University survived until this weekend, it would have already played in the NCAA Division I Championship game, which was held last year in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Dec. 18. But with this year’s expansion of the playoff field from 16 to 20 teams, the No. 1-ranked and fifth-seeded Eagles found themselves locked in a semifinal with defending national champion Villanova at Roos Field on Friday night.
Eastern Washington defensive coordinator John Graham has never met Matt Szczur. But just from watching video of Villanova’s all-American wide receiver, kick-return specialist and “Wildcat” quarterback, Graham figures Szczur must be every bit as good a person as he is a football player.
Villanova coach Andy Talley won’t hazard a guess as to how the national title his team won last fall might impact its chances against No. 1-ranked and fifth-seeded Eastern Washington University (11-2) in tonight’s Football Championship Subdivision playoff semifinal that kicks off at 5:05 at Roos Field. “I would like to think it would help,” Talley said of last year’s impressive title march, which culminated with a 23-21 win over Montana in the championship game. “But to be perfectly candid, it’s hard to know, because last year we had the luxury of sitting at home for our first three playoff games.”
Villanova has got to be travel weary, but Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin is expecting to get the Wildcats' best shot when the two teams lineup Friday in the FCS semifinals at Roos Field.
Villanova's Matt Szczur caught a 31-yard touchdown pass, threw a 54-yard scoring pass and ran for three more TDs as part of a perfect offensive storm last week in the FCS quarterfinals.