There’s no doubt that the Bearkats have had one of the most impressive runs to the FCS Championship game in recent history. Yes, they never had to leave home, but they had to welcome in and defeat the elite in the FCS. The Southland Conference champions, in their final season before moving to the Western Athletic Conference, proved that they have a championship caliber football program. K.C. Keeler has amassed a 68-22 record in his seven seasons as head coach of the Bearkats. Before this season, they reached the quarterfinals once and the semifinals three times. This would be Keeler’s second championship (he won one as the head coach of Delaware in 2003) and the first FCS championship for Sam Houston.
Although they will officially be the road team for the first time during their playoff run this spring, it is certain to have a home feel as the Bearkats are only a three-hour drive up I-45 from Frisco, Texas, the site of the FCS National Championship. The stadium will be at half capacity for the game and there is a good chance that outside of the stadium, you will find a sea of orange and white, looking to be a part of history. But before you begin to lay your hard earned money for or against the Bearkats, we’ve compiled some things you should know about Sam Houston.
They have the 10th ranked offense in the FCS. In nine games they have amassed 4,050 yards, which places them third, behind Southern Illinois and Jacksonville State, who both played more games (one and four, respectively) than the Bearkats. They have 42 touchdowns, which places them third in that category, and they average 6.6 yards per play, which is fifth in the country. They have only lost five of their 12 fumbles and surrendered 27 points off their total turnovers.
The Bearkats are 47th in yards per game allowed but that does not tell the entire story. Many of those yards are empty yards surrendered in blowouts or occasions where their bend-but-don’t-break style allows yards but not points. They are 22nd in scoring defense, allowing only 19.44 points per game. Their rush defense has been one of the best in the country. They currently rank eighth which is special when you consider the level of talent they have faced the entire season. They only allow 78.9 yards per game; combined, all of their opponents average 186.9 yards per game. They have also recovered 12 of their opponents’ 16 fumbles while converting their turnovers into 59 points.