The most prominent FBS pelt North Dakota State football added to its trophy case came on Friday night, when the Bison topped defending Big 12 Conference champion Kansas State.
Easy as it may be to dismiss the Wildcats’ aspirations for another double-digit win season and repeat league title, the real story is North Dakota State. The two-time reigning FCS national champion has a bonafide dynasty building under Craig Bohl.
In addition to the program’s two consecutive national championships, NDSU has beaten an FBS opponent each of the last four straight seasons. Here’s the Bison’s FBS hit list:
• NDSU 6, Kansas 3
• NDSU 37, Minnesota 24
• NDSU 22, Colorado State 7
• NDSU 24, Kansas State 21
For those keeping score, three of the Bison’s four straight wins against FBS competition are also against BCS conference members. Dismiss the upper echelon of the FCS at your own peril — the Bison now thrive off of it. NDSU has an incredible overall mark of 7-3 against the FBS.
Not coincidentally, the Bison have been to the FCS Playoffs in the previous three campaigns. Perhaps most astounding is that NDSU was a Div. II program a decade ago.
Friday’s win sets the tone as NDSU seeks to match a feat only Appalachian State has accomplished before it, winning three straight national championships. Coincidentally, ASU capped the third and final title run with what remains the most celebrated FCS-over-FBS upset ever, the Mountaineers’ defeat of Michigan in 2007. K-State was not quite as celebrated as that Michigan team, which began the season ranked in the top five, but this is still a marquee moment in the already-illustrious recent history of North Dakota State football. This Bison team is the first from the FCS to ever knock off a reigning BCS conference champion.
K-State is a team that will improve as its new starters get up to speed. Bill Snyder will have the Wildcats competing in the Big 12 as the season progresses, which makes this win all the more meaningful. This could end up being akin to James Madison’s defeat of Virginia Tech, the Hokies’ last in the 2010 season before they fell to Stanford in the Orange Bowl.
North Dakota State has been called the Alabama of FCS because of the obvious similarities. Each is defending two straight national championships. But just how astute the comparison really is might be lost on those unfamiliar with the Bison.
Quarterback Brock Jensen, who rushed for the game-winning touchdown on Friday, is a senior leader with three full seasons as the program’s starter — much like A.J. McCarron at Alabama. Jensen supplanted Jose Mohler late in the 2010 season, and has held the job ever since.
NDSU also sets its foundation with an aggressive defensive approach, then employs an old school, power set offensive style to pound opposing defenses into submission.
Much like Alabama has had a veritable conveyor belt of running backs through it dynasty years, Sam Ojuri continues in the same vein as predecessors Pat Paschall and DJ McNorton.
And as every team in the FBS is simply playing catch-up with the Tide, such is the case with NDSU and the FCS.