The top-ranked, and fifth-seeded, Eastern Washington Eagles are going national tonight, hosting the Villanova Wildcats live on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. The Eagles earned a berth in the semis with a win over North Dakota State last weekend, coming from behind to tie the game late in the fourth quarter before putting the Bisons away in overtime. After scoring a touchdown on the first play of the extra period, North Dakota was in position to tie, but fumbled the ball away in a bang-bang play at the goal-line, giving the Eagles the win and putting Easter one game away from playing for the FCS National Championship.
Villanova is no stranger to the FCS playoffs and championship, having won the title last year. The Wildcats have made nine appearances in the FCS semifinals and have won their last six playoff games dating back to last year. Last week, Villanova dropped top-seeded Appalachian State on ESPN, 42-24.
Eastern will be without one of its biggest weapons after All-American Taiwan Jones broke his foot in the FCS quarterfinals last week. Jones rushed for 1742 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2010, including 230 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries in the FCS quarterfinals against North Dakota State. With Jones out, Eastern turns to freshman Mario Brown and junior Darriel Beaumonte to carry the load in the backfield.
And then there's that field. With a nationally televised game, Eastern Washington's bright red turf (pictured above) will be on full display on Friday night in glorious HD. Eastern wanted to make a big splash as they resurfaced the field this summer and they did just that. With an eye-popping red turf that matches the Eagles' uniforms, the reaction of the rest of the nation should be interesting to see.
Eastern and Villanova battle it out for a chance to play for the FCS Championship tonight at 5 p.m., live on ESPN2.