Nov 16, 2012 9:16 PM by Andrew Masuda
A piece of the Big Sky Conference title and spot in the FCS playoffs will be on the line when the 17th ranked Cal Poly football team closes out the regular season at 15th ranked Northern Arizona on Saturday. Kickoff in Flagstaff is at 3:05 pm.
Both teams enter 8-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play. The Mustangs, Lumberbacks, Eastern Washington and Montana State are in a four-way tie for first headed into the regular season finale. The only way Cal Poly can earn the Big Sky's automatic bid to the NCAA FCS playoffs is with a win Saturday, plus losses by both Eastern Washington at Portland State and Montana State at Montana.
The Mustangs completed a perfect 5-0 season at home with a 70-14 thumping of Idaho State last weekend. Deonte Williams rushed for 125 yards and 3 touchdowns. He set a school record with his ninth game of the season with 100-plus yards rushing. Quarterback Andre Broadous threw 3 touchdown passes for the second time this season and the Cal Poly defense collected 3 interceptions. The Mustangs racked up 650 yards of total offense, including a school Division I record with 505 rushing yards and 33 first downs.
Northern Arizona saw its eight game winning streak snapped last weekend 35-29 to Southern Utah in triple overtime in Flagstaff. Quarterback Cary Grossart was sacked on fourth down to end the game. He still threw for 298 yards and 4 touchdowns in the loss. Grossart has completed 157 of 234 passes for 1,723 yards and 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions this season. Running back Zach Bauman leads NAU with 1,138 yards on the ground with 8 touchdowns. He's averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
NAU averages 31.4 points, 410 total yards of offense, 181 rushing yards, 229 passing yards per game. They've given up an average of 21.8 points, 120 rushing yards and 206 passing yards per contest.
The game marks a return for Williams and cornerback Nico Molino. The two Cal Poly seniors started their careers with NAU in 2008. Williams earned Big Sky Newcomer of the Year with more than 900 rushing yards for the Lumberjacks. Molino enters the game against his former team with a conference-leading 4 interceptions.
Williams leads the Big Sky and ranks third in the FCS by averaging 131.9 yards rushing per game. He needs 260 yards to tie James Noble's program record for most rushing yards in a single season.
A win would all but assure Cal Poly of its third NCAA Division I FCS playoff berth and first since 2008. Cal Poly also went to the postseason in 2005 and won at Montana to advance to the quarterfinals.
NAU is looking for its fourth postseason berth and first since 2003.
This will be the ninth all-time meeting between the two teams and first since 2003. Cal Poly is 0-8 all time against the Lumberjacks in a series that dates back to 1935.
The 2012 NCAA Division I FCS playoff bracket with 20 teams will be announced Sunday at 10:30 am PST on ESPNU.
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