Daily Blog • January 5th



North Dakota St vs Sam Houston St
Projected Box Score

FC Dallas Stadium • Frisco, TX

The Missouri Valley Football Conference Champion Bison come in ranked #1 at 13-1 which includes a 22-7 win over FBS member Colorado St. Their only slip up was a 17-14 loss to Indiana St the week after blowing out Youngstown St (the only team the Bison lost to in 2011). They were the #1 seed and after a bye in the first round of the playoffs hosted rival South Dakota St. After only winning their regular season meeting 20-17 NDSU cruised to a 28-3 win. The Bison then played 2 of the 3 SoCon Co-Champs in back-to-back weeks. They stopped Wofford at the NDSU6 late in the 4Q to hold on for a 14-7 win. Then against Georgia Southern needed a late td on a 4th down draw to come-from-behind for a 23-20 win despite being outgained 430-277. NDSU is led by their defense which is #1 in both scoring and total defense. While their offense is just #63 in total offense, they are a respectable #23 in scoring. NDSU HC Craig Bohl was this year’s Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year in what was his 4th time being named a finalist for the prestigious award. He boasts a 23-8 record vs nationally ranked FCS teams (including 9-1 in the playoffs). QB Brock Jensen avg 158 ypg (62%) with a 17-8 ratio and is the #3 rusher with 313 (3.0) and 9 td. The top rushers are John Crockett (956, 5.2, 9) and Sam Ojuri (955, 4.8, 10). Jensen has 2 rec’s over 500 yds led by Zach Vraa with 575 (13.4) and 4 td. The OL paved the way for 197 ypg (4.6) while all’g 23 sks (6.8%) led by FCS Rimington winner C Joe Lund and Camp AA Billy Turner. The Bison D is led by 4th Tm AA LB Grant Olson who has tallied 146 tkls with 11.5 tfl. Teams try to avoid Camp AA CB Marcus Williams but he has still grabbed 5 int and 4 pbu. Adam Keller has hit 17-22 FG (L/49) but has had 2 blk’d. P Ben LeCompte avg 43.3 with 18 In20 (net 38.3). PR Ryan Smith avg 10.5 on ret’s with 1 td while Marcus Williams avg 27.5 on KR, also with a td. The Bison allow 6.2 ypr on PR and 20.9 on KR.

Southland co-champion Bearkats come in ranked #5 with an 11-3 record. Two of their losses were to FBS bowl teams, as they lost 48-23 to Baylor and 47-28 to Texas A&M. Their other loss cost them the outright Southland Title as they were upset 24-20 by Central Arkansas, who would claim the conference auto-bid. After being the #1 seed in 2011, SHSU did not receive one of the five seeds in this year’s playoffs but did get a first round bye. They would face all 3 Big Sky co-champs in their playoff run. They hosted Cal Poly and despite being outgained 387-241 benefitted from 3 TO’s & a blocked punt for a safety and led 18-9 before giving up a td with 3:23 left and were able to hold on for a 18-16 win. They then went on the road and beat #3 seed Montana St 34-16. They had a 35-0 halftime lead at #2 seed Eastern Washington but needed to hold on for a 45-42 win. While the Bearkats #25 ranking in total and #18 ranking in scoring defense trails behind NDSU they are 1 spot ahead of the Bison in rushing defense at #2. They also have a big edge on offense with the #10 total and #2 scoring rankings. Third year HC Willie Fritz was a finalist for the Liberty Mutual COY award after leading his team to a 31-9 record including back-to-back title game appearances. QB Brian Bell is avg 176 ypg (62%) with a 24-7 ratio with his top target being Trey Diller (881, 15.2, 4 td) although Chance Nelson does have 9 rec td (662, 20.1). The ground game is paced by Kansas St transfer and AA Tim Flanders who has 1,589 (5.9) and 17 td and was named the Southland Conf POY for the 2nd consec season. He is already the conf’s all-time leading rusher and has 24 100 yard games coming into this one (9 this year, SHSU record). The OL paves the way for 279 ypg (5.6) which was good for #6 in the FBS. The D is led by 1st Tm AA S Darnell Taylor (100 tkl, 2 sk, 7 pd) and AA DE Andrew Weaver who was named to the 3rd team after tallying 24 tkl, 4 sacks and 2 tfl. Miguel Antonio has hit 18-22 FG’s this year (L/42) with 0 blocked while punter Matt Foster avg 43.2 with 19 In20 (team net of 38.9). Trey Diller is the top PR (11.1) and KR (23.4) although Terrance Robinson (2 PR, 39.5) has the team’s only PR td (none via KR). The Bearkats allow a measly 5.3 ypr on PR and 17.8 on KR but have allowed opponents to hit paydirt on KR’s twice.

Last year #2 North Dakota St beat a previously undefeated #1 Sam Houston St 17-6 with just a 235-210 yd edge. This will be just the fourth FCS Championship Game rematch since the FCS playoffs began in 1978. In each of the earlier 3 rematches, the previous year’s loser won (Marshall ‘92, Youngstown St ‘93 & Marshall ‘96). We will call for that trend to continue as we look for the Bearkats to pull out the upset in a close and exciting FCS Championship Game