The University of Maine makes its first appearance in the NCAA FCS semifinals when it meets the No. 3 seed Eastern Washington with a trip to the National Championship on the line live on ESPN2.
Maine and Eastern Washington, of the Big Sky Conference, will meet for the first-time in history. Maine is 2-2 all-time against Big Sky member schools and will be playing its second-straight Big Sky opponent a week after taking down Weber State, 23-18. The victory marked Maine's first-ever FCS quarterfinal win. The Black Bears are 4-6 all-time on the road in the postseason. Maine is looking to make it to the National Championship for the first time in its 127 year history. Maine, now with 10 wins for just the third time in its history, will look to tie its all-time wins record (11-2002) in what will mark a school-record ninth road game.
Maine advanced to the semifinals following a 23-18 victory at Weber State, its sixth-straight win and fifth road win of the season. The victory moved Maine to 7-0 this season against ranked opponents. In the win, Maine's defense tallied four interceptions and held Weber State to negative 1-yard rushing.
Eastern Washington, which ranks second in the country in total offense (538.3 yards per game), advanced to the FCS semifinal round for the sixth time in its history after rallying back from a 21-14 fourth quarter deficit to take a 34-29 victory over UC Davis. The Eagles boast the nation's fourth ranked scoring offense (44.1 points per game) and 10th-ranked rushing offense (266.6). EWU has won six-straight with its last loss coming at Weber State, 14-6, back on Oct. 13.
Maine, 9-0 on the season when the Black Bears' offense rushes for 100+ yards, continues to be impressive on the defensive side of the run. Maine leads the nation in rush defense, allowing just 68.7 rushing yards per game and has held 11 of its 13 opponents under 100-yards rushing. Maine's pass rush has been impressive as the Black Bears rank second in the nation in sacks per game (3.62) and third with 8.5 tackles for loss per game.
The Black Bears will be making the longest trip in its history. A week after traveling to Ogden, Utah (2,594 miles away), Maine will trek 3,003 miles to Cheney.