North Dakota State 2015 FCS Football Playoff Capsule

North Dakota State Bison
Missouri Valley


North Dakota State is seeking their fifth straight FCS championship, but this team heads into the playoffs with perhaps more questions than any of the title teams. An opening season loss at Montana set the tone for a season where the Bison failed to dominate. Still, when domination is the expectation, it is easy to forget that this is a group that has beaten some very, very good teams and is still among the favorites to reach Frisco, Texas.

2015 Record: 9-2, 7-1
Coach: Chris Klieman

Big Wins: 10/3 at South Dakota State (28-7), 10/10 Northern Iowa (31-28)
Bad Losses: 8/29 at Montana (35-38), 10/17 South Dakota (21-24)

When the ball is on the ground, NDSU is the best team in the country. King Frazier has done a great job stepping into the starting running back role and there is plenty of depth behind him with freshmen Bruce Anderson and Lance Dunn both providing some quality depth. But North Dakota State has won championships with their defense and this group is extremely strong in the front seven. Junior linebackers Nick DeLuca and MJ Stumpf have led the way and have a knack for making the big plays. DeLuca is one of the more efficient and effective tacklers in the nation and he does not just make spectacular plays, but also makes the tough plays look easy. End Greg Menard and tackle Brian Schaetz lead a strong front line, but this is a group that has not been as effective getting to the quarterback as they have been in years past.

But it is in the secondary where the defense has struggled the most. Last year North Dakota State had one of the most potent pass defenses in the country. This year they are basically a middle of the road Missouri Valley Football Conference team when it comes to pass defense. The other big issue with the defense, specifically the secondary, is creating turnovers. NDSU seems to always have a great turnover margin, but that is not the case this year. Some of that is on the defense, but some of it stems from the injury to superstar quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz hurt his wrist in the six game of the season, a loss at home to South Dakota and has not returned during the regular season. Freshman Easton Stick has done an admirable job and adds a rushing dimension that Wentz lacks, but the big change in offense has led to more turnovers. Wentz could be back for the playoffs, but it remains to be seen if he can be as efficient as usual after spending nearly two months on the sidelines.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: King Frazier, RB, 790 yards
Passing: Carson Wentz, QB, 1,454 yards
Receiving: RJ Urzendowski, WR, 586 yards
Tackles: Nick DeLuca, LB, 96
Sacks: Greg Menard, DE, 8.0
Interceptions: CJ Smith, CB, 2

2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 227.2 (14th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 209.1 (55, 5)
Total Offense: 436.3 (24, 2)
Scoring Offense: 33.9 (21, 3)
Rushing Defense: 114.7 (17, 2)
Pass Defense: 188.5 (28, 3)
Total Defense: 303.2 (14, 2)
Scoring Defense: 19.4 (23, 3)
Turnover Margin: -0.20 (73, 8)
Sacks: 2.00 (58, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (15, 1)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
2014    Second Round    Defeated South Dakota State
2014    Quarterfinals    Defeated Coastal Carolina
2014    Semifinals    Defeated Sam Houston State
2014    Championship    Defeated Illinois State
2013    Second Round    Defeated Furman
2013    Quarterfinals    Defeated Coastal Carolina
2013    Semifinals    Defeated New Hampshire
2013    Championship    Defeated Towson
2012    Second Round    Defeated South Dakota State
2012    Quarterfinals    Defeated Wofford
2012    Semifinals    Defeated Georgia Southern
2012    National Championship    Defeated Sam Houston State
2011    Second Round    Defeated James Madison
2011    Quarterfinals    Defeated Lehigh
2011    Semifinals    Defeated Georgia Southern
2011    Championship    Defeated Sam Houston State
2010    First Round    Defeated Robert Morris
2010    Second Round    Defeated Montana State
2010    Quarterfinals    Lost to Eastern Washington

*all team stats through 11/14


Playoff Central