This past weekend was Championship weekend in NCAA Division I football. Last night Alabama beat Georgia in overtime for it’s 5th title in 9 years. Since the start of the 2010 season the Crimson Tide are 99-12.
But they aren’t the winningest team in the nation. That title belongs to NCAA Division III Mount Union who is 113-6. Holy cow that’s a lot of wins. They’ve also won 3 National Championships since 2010.
That 5th title for ‘Bama still doesn’t compare to NDSU.
The Bison played James Madison on Saturday for the FCS National Championship (Alabama and Georgia are in the FBS). The hype was immense for a lower level football game. JMU was the undefeated defending champion. They dethroned the Bison in the semifinals the year before, ending five consecutive years for the Bison as National Champions. They had the active, and 2nd in history, longest winning streak at the FCS level at 26. The holder of the longest streak? Why NDSU of course with 33 from 2012-2014.
The #1 Scoring Defense (JMU) against the #2 Scoring Defense (NDSU). #2 Total Defense (NDSU) vs #3 Total Defense (JMU). The #2 Scoring Offense (NDSU) vs. #15 (JMU). Easton Stick (NDSU) was the 2nd most efficient passer in the nation, while Bryon Schor (29-4 as a starter for his career) was 18th.
And the game lived up to the hype. NDSU scored a TD on it’s first drive after the only special teams mistake by JMU all day, a roughing the punter. After getting 10 (yes, that’s right, ten) takeaways against South Dakota State (which by the way was the only team to beat NDSU this year) James Madison came into the championship with 43 turnovers and +24 margin. They got a strip sack of Stick deep in the NDSU zone, but came away with no points when Schor threw an interception to Defensive Tackle (no, don’t get your eyes checked, I said defensive tackle) Nate Tanguay. For the day, JMU ended up -2 after throwing another interception at the goal line and a Riley Stapleton fumble (questionable at that. Ball was coming away from his body when his knee hit the ground, but couldn’t tell if he lost control on the replay so the call on the field stands).
NDSU had the one non-special teams big play of the day with a 50 yard toss from Stick to Darius Shephard for a TD. With just a couple of seconds left in the first half and the ball near the goal line JMU opted for a field goal instead of the TD try to make it 17-6. The Dukes came out after the break and drove down the field for a Touch Down to pull within 4, 17-13. And that’s it.
It was defensive stand after defensive stand after that. NDSU tried a field goal, but it was blocked. Late in the 4th quarter NDSU stopped JMU for what looked like a punt, but the Dukes faked it. Harry O’Kelley, from Australia, the James Madison punter, ran 24 yards for a first down to the NDSU 29, making him the second leading rusher on the team for the day. JMU got to the 18, but couldn’t get any farther. Under heavy pressure from Jabril Cox on 4th down Schor heaved a pass to the goal line where it got knocked down. Stick ran out the clock from there for the win.
The win gave NDSU it’s 6th National Title in 7 years (14th overall since 1965). That makes the Bison record 106-13 since 2010 (97-8 since 2011). They set a record with 7 straight semifinal appearances the game before. Former NDSU (and later Ottowa Red Blacks) QB holds the record for most wins by an FCS quarterback at 48. Easton Stick could tie or break that record next year if he stays healthy and the Bison continue to win. He’s currently 34-3 as a starter.
And in case you didn’t know already, the QB between Jensen and Stick was a timid little red head by the name of Carson Wentz who’s now with the Philadelphia Eagles.