|Eastern Washington plays at Appalachian State on Saturday|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 28 November 2007 01:21|
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -Eastern Washington's Paul Wulff may be one of the few college football coaches in the country who has not seen Appalachian State's upset of Michigan earlier this season.|
Maybe that's a good thing, because Eastern Washington (9-3) will play at the Mountaineers (10-2) on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Appalachian State has won two national titles in a row in the FCS.
Wulff said Tuesday he has never watched video of Appalachian State's 34-32 win at Michigan on Sept. 1, and the video was not included when the teams exchanged film this week. Wulff said he doesn't mind.
``It was such a long time ago it is not relevant for us right now,'' Wulff said of the Michigan game. ``We have more recent games to see where they are playing at now, versus September.''
Eastern Washington's survival in the playoffs is almost as surprising as Appalachian State's win at Michigan.
At one point, the Eagles were 4-3 this season and seemingly headed nowhere. But they rallied to win four in a row to get an at-large bid to the playoffs, then upset McNeese State 44-15 last Saturday in Louisiana.
This will be the first time EWU and Appalachian State have played.
``We've never really watched them or studied them because we've never had to play them,'' Wulff said. ``Obviously, they are a great football team but they have lost this season.''
Appalachian State lost to Wofford and Georgia Southern. Eastern lost to Portland State, Montana and Brigham Young.
They have one common foe, as the Mountaineers beat Northern Arizona 34-21 on Sept. 15, while Eastern beat them 52-24 on Nov. 10.
Wulff is worried about Appalachian State's speedy offense, and also about the noise in their packed stadium in Boone, N.C.
Eastern plays regularly at Montana, which is also a noisy venue, he said. This year they also played before 65,000 at BYU.
``Our kids are accustomed to that,'' Wulff said, although EWU crowds typically number 5,000 to 6,000 at the commuter school 15 miles southwest of Spokane.
Wulff declined comment on speculation that he would be a candidate for the vacancy at nearby Washington State.
``We are about to play the two-time defending national champion,'' Wulff said. ``That's what really matters for me. The other stuff can take care of itself down the road.''
The Eagles play in the tough Big Sky Conference of the FCS, which is a notch below the major college programs.
While Washington and Washington State of the Pacific-10 fill their rosters with players from California and other states, the vast majority of Eastern Washington's players come from in-state. Those are the only three Division I programs in a state of 7 million people.
``We feel we are Washington's team,'' Wulff said.
``We've been the most consistent of all the programs over the last 10 years, no question,'' Wulff said. ``We are producing a quality product for our region.''
This is Eastern's fourth trip to the second round of the playoffs, but they have won only one quarterfinal game. That was in 1997, when they beat Western Kentucky and lost in the semifinals to Youngstown State.
This season's team featured the high-flying offense that is typical of the Eagles. They had 626 yards against McNeese State.
Quarterback Matt Nichols was the top offensive player in the Big Sky. He completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,559 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Eagles are averaging 470.2 yards of offense. The Mountaineers are right behind in total offense, averaging 468.6 yards.
Nichols said Appalachian State's national notoriety makes them an interesting opponent.
``We have watched the game against Michigan on ESPN Classic a few times,'' Nichols said. ``It's a little advantage for us to see what we are going against.''
``I'm sure they have never heard of us and didn't know anything about us until this week,'' Nichols said.
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