GAME PREVIEW: Monmouth at James Madison
Today is the first meeting between Monmouth and James Madison. The Hawks advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in their history while JMU is looking to start a run to their third national championship game in the last four years.
Monmouth recorded its first playoff win last weekend at home, downing Holy Cross 44-27. It was the first home playoff win for the Hawks who improved to 7-0 at Kessler Stadium, setting a new school record. In that contest, Pete Guerriero rushed for 220 yards and three touchdowns while the defense forced a trio of interceptions as the Hawks built a 37-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Dukes, winners of 10 consecutive games, bring a No. 2 national ranking with them to today's game. James Madison won the Colonial Athletic Association after going 8-0 with their only setback of the season coming in week one against West Virginia (20-13).
Monmouth is ranked 11th in the AFCA Coaches Poll and 14th in the STATS FCS Poll, the highest rankings in school history.
The winner of today's game will advance to the NCAA FCS Quarterfinal round and face the winner of UNI vs South Dakota State.
The game will air on ESPN3 with John Yardley and Hutson Mason (analyst) on the call.
MONMOUTH AGAINST THE COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
Monmouth University is 4-13 all-time against members of the Colonial Athletic Association.
This is the second time this season that Monmouth has faced a CAA team with the Hawks defeating UAlbany in week three. In that game Matt Mosquera converted a 25-yard field goal in overtime after UAlbany tied it up with a Hail Mary with four seconds remaining in regulation.
MU dominated Rhode Island in 2012 at home, 41-6 with Kyle Frazier throwing for 264 yards and three touchdowns.
Monmouth notched their first win over the CAA in 2009 against Old Dominion. n The Hawks picked up their first victory of 2011 at Villanova, in part due to a pair of goal-line stands from the MU defense. Dan Sullivan led the Hawks with eight tackles, none bigger than the one he had early in the fourth to halt a Wildcat drive at the Monmouth one-yard line.
MONMOUTH IN THE NCAA PLAYOFFS
Today's game is the third playoff game for the Hawks in the 27-year history of the program. It also marks the first time Monmouth has appeared in the second round of the FCS playoffs. Monmouth is 0-1 on the road in the FCS playoffs.
In 2017 the Hawks made the playoffs for the first time, as an At-Large selection after finishing 9-2 and ranked 22nd in the nation during the regular season n Monmouth is 1-1 all-time in the FCS playoffs, losing to Northern Iowa in 2017 before topping Holy Cross last weekend at home.
The Hawks fell to Northern Iowa in the 2017 opening round with Bahar connecting with Lonnie Moore for the first playoff touchdown in school history.
KENJI BAHAR EARNS BIG SOUTH OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kenji Bahar was named Big South Offensive Player of the Year after guiding one of the nation's most prolific offenses, averaging 36.3 points per game while racking up a conference-best 3,454 yards of total offense. Bahar threw for 3,262 yards and 28 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. The fifth-year senior set every single-season and career passing record in Monmouth history and finished with a 66.1 completion percentage and four rushing scores. Bahar was the preseason conference player of the year and is one of two finalists on the Hawks up for the Walter Payton Award, awarded to the nation's top FCS offensive player.
CALLAHAN EARNS FOURTH CONFERENCE COACH OF THE YEAR HONOR
Callahan, the only head coach in Monmouth has known, led the Hawks to their best season in the 27-year history of the program. Monmouth, ranked 11th in the latest AFCA Coaches' Poll, won its first Big South title by going unbeaten in league play. The Hawks are winners of eight straight contests and won 10 games for the fourth time in school history and the first time since 2006. Callahan's program will host its first NCAA FCS Playoff game this Saturday when Holy Cross visits Kessler Stadium.
BAHAR SETS MULTIPLE MONMOUTH PASSING RECORDS
Kenji Bahar now owns six of the seven passing records at Monmouth, moving into first in touchdown passes with his five-touchdown effort against North Alabama. With his start against the Camels, he set the MU mark of 45 starts by a QB. His 62.2 completion percentage is second only to Brett Burke.