College: Holy Cross Crusaders (7-5) at Monmouth Hawks (10-2)

Holy Cross makes their first post season appearance in a decade. The Crusaders won the Patriot League under second year coach Bob Chesney. Holy Cross played a tough schedule and after a slow start, they got progressively better and ended up winning a league as a result of the improvement.

Here are three keys to today’s playoff game for the Crusaders.

1. Win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball: Holy Cross must win the line of scrimmage. Monmouth is big, physical and they can run the football. The Crusaders defensive line must maintain gap integrity. They cannot lose the line of scrimmage.

Offensively, it is all about getting Dominic Cozier going early. The Crusaders are going to need to run the football and control the clock. They do not want this game to turn into a shootout. Winning up front will be key.

2. Get pressure on Monmouth quarterback Kenji Bahar: Bahar has had a terrific season. The Monmouth quarterback has thrown for 3,262 yards and 28 touchdown passes. Monmouth does a good job of using RPO’s and a quick passing game to get the ball out of Mahar’s hands quick. Holy Cross must disrupt his timing and throw him off his spot.

3. Win the turnover battle: You need to win the turnover battle in order to win big games. Holy Cross must win the turnover battle and protect the football. If they do, they can pull off the upset.

Final thoughts: Holy Cross wasn’t suppose to be here but it is a testament to Chesney and his coaching staff. They will have their hands full. Monmouth is talented offensively and they can make big plays in the passing game.

If Holy Cross is going to pull off the upset, they are going to need to pound the ball and generate turnovers. If they do, they will have a shot.