Date: Sunday, January 8, 2023
Game Time: 2:00 ET
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
How To Watch: ABC/ESPN3
Record: #1 Seed South Dakota State (13-1) #3 Seed North Dakota State (12-1)
The FCS National Championship has a different feeling this time around. Yes, we all know how daunting of a task beating North Dakota State is. They’re a giant of the sport, especially at the FCS level. They’re on an unprecedented run of success. To be completely honest, it’s arguably the greatest run in Division 1 football history. They’ve won nine (yes, NINE!!) out of the last 11 National Championships. It’s even more impressive when you consider the FCS playoff format. There’s no such thing as an easy path to a title.
Before this year’s late collapse at Arizona, a game they had in firm control until late, they’d beaten 6 FBS teams in a row. Regardless, 6-1 against FBS competition is incredible. All that to say, South Dakota State isn’t a team that’s going to lose a game just because of the name on the jersey come Sunday. In fact, they’ve actually beaten the Bison in the last THREE head-to-head matchups- including an October matchup this season.
I would even go as far to say SDSU has NDSU’s number at the moment. I mean, how could you argue three in a row? Four in a row, for a National Championship nonetheless, would be undeniable. They’re extremely well coached, they’re loaded with talent and experience to boot. Although they suffered defeat in an all time classic game that was the 2020 National Championship game to Sam Houston State, they’ve been here before. They can match up with the Bison not only physically, but in those intangible areas that rear their head when it matters.
As for the talent in the game, SDSU would seemingly have the clear advantage with their offense. Led by QB Mark Gronowski (3k+ total yards & 34 total TD’s), RB Isiah Davis (1500+ total yards & 14 TD’s), WR’s The Janke Twins (1510 yards comb & 13 TD’s comb), & projected top 50-75 draft prospect TE Tucker Kraft
, they’re as talented of a group as you could wish to have at the FCS level. In my humble opinion, they also have one of the three best offensive lines in the FCS. 5 incredibly well-coached machines across the board. As good as the offense is, they truly hang their hat on the 2nd ranked total defense & 3rd ranked scoring defense in the country led by LB’s Adam Bock & Jason Freeman.
While NDSU isn’t nearly as flashy offensively, they’re extremely effective & consistent. They actually are higher ranked in total offense & scoring offense. They have a mind blowing SEVEN guys averaging over 4.6 yards per carry with at least 40 attempts. They also have four guys with at least 8 rushing TD’s. Almost unbelievable, but it’s become the standard. QB Cam Miller (2200+ total yards & 26 total TD’s), RB’s Kobe Johnson & Tamerick Williams (1500+ yards & 16 TD’s combined), FB Hunter Luepke (619 yards & 9 TD’s) lead the way for this group. The real strength of this team? The five men up front. They have the best offensive line in the FCS led by potential 1st round pick Cody Mauch. 4 seniors and a junior across the front. Couldn’t ask for a more reliable or rock steady crew. As for the defense? 5th in scoring defense & 8th in total defense. LB James Kaczor, DE Spencer Waege, & S Dawson Weber are the standouts.
The key factors in this game that I believe will determine the outcome? Whoever wins the time of possession & turnover battle. Both teams are top 20 in time of possession & both are tied at 6th in the nation in turnover margin. It’s strength versus strength for these evenly match teams. In the past, we’ve seen NDSU rise to the occasion in the biggest moments on the biggest stages and dominate both key factors. However, I truly believe it’s the Jackrabbits’ time. I’m putting it out there & saying that SDSU will dethrone the kings.
SCORE: SDSU 34 NDSU 28
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