FCS PLAYOFF CENTRAL – The Championship Game
By Phil Steele
Welcome to Phil Steele’s FCS Playoff Central. It’s almost here – the FCS National Championship kicks on January 5th with North Dakota St and Sam Houston St meeting in Frisco, Texas. Here you’ll find a breakdown of the game. Click on either helmet (and speaking of the helmets, make sure to visit The Helmet Project) to go to the team’s page. Check out the schedules/results for all of the playoff teams. Get the latest news and stats from the teams themselves. Don’t forget to update your bracket. And – best yet – vote for you who think will win the big game!
FCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
North Dakota St (12-1)
Sam Houston St (11-3)
January 5th • 1:00 pm • FC Dallas Stadium • Frisco, TX
For the second year in a row, Sam Houston State and North Dakota State will meet in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game. The Jan. 5 title contest marks the fourth time since the championships began in 1978 that the same opponents have met in the finals in back-to-back years.Hang on before you chalk up the Football Championship Subdivision title game as a rematch. The coaches at North Dakota State and Sam Houston State said Thursday their teams are not carbon copies from a year ago. “It’s two new teams that are playing each other this season,” Sam Houston coach Willie Fritz said. Last year’s game was a defensive struggle that saw NDSU escape with a 235-210 edge in total offense. The Bison broke the game open with their first fake punt of the year to set up the go-ahead touchdown.
The Bison, who won last year’s game 17-6, will put their top-rated defense against Sam Houston State’s No. 2 scoring offense in the Jan. 5 game in Frisco, Texas.NDSU’s defense features an All-American cornerback in Marcus Williams, but is spearheaded by linebackers Grant Olson and Travis Beck. Olson had a school-record 29 tackles in a playoff win over Wofford. Beck came back the next week to make 15 tackles against Georgia Southern.
The 2011 Bearkats’ 14-0 run to the NCAA Division I Football National Championship game was incredible. But few can argue that the 2012 team’s road back to Frisco for a rematch with defending national champion and No. 1 North Dakota State is even more amazing. After a heart-breaking loss at Central Arkansas where the Bears scored 14 points in the final five minutes to upset the defending Southland Conference champion 24-20, Sam Houston State stood 1-2 and on the brink of having the team’s repeat playoff hopes dashed all together. The team responded. Since the UCA loss in Conway, Sam Houston has gone 10-1 with the only loss to Football Bowl Subdivision No. 8 and Cotton Bowl bound Texas A&M. Seven of those 10 victories came on the road.