How to Pick the New FCS Football National Champ

North Dakota State FCS College Football

How to Pick the New FCS Football National Champ

Who knows? 

You can pick either team that played for the 2011 title, champion North Dakota State or the runner up Sam Houston State.  Or, you could pick the 2010 champ Eastern Washington who is looking for another shot.  Well, what about the team that has won the most ever I-AA, now FCS, titles with six?  However, Georgia Southern has been absent from the title picture for more than a decade.  But each of the four teams has a chance to win it all and wear the crown.  But who knows who it will it be? 

Looking for back-to-back titles, North Dakota State certainly has the defense.  They either lead the country or are very close in most every statistic there is.  Against running teams, they have yet to give up a rushing touchdown in the last three playoff games.  Putting up points offensively hasn't been much of a problem either for the season as a whole.  Their considerable home field advantage should work in  their favor as well.  If there is any weakness you could point to the 24 points per game average that the Bison have posted over the last six games.  But for no other reason than being the defending champ, this could easily be your pick.

Or, you could go with the team that has made the semi-final round three years running in Georgia Southern.  With the country’s best running attack pounding out over 400 yards per game, they can certainly control games.  QB Jerrick McKinnon and RB Dominique Swope could batter many a defense, and have.  Being in the top ten in scoring with over 35 points per game shows consistency.  Problems with turnovers and defending the pass could hurt.  Going 8 for 21 (38%) kicking field goals is a glaring weakness. With appearances in nearly a quarter of the title games ever played at this level, it may not be smart to bet against them.  Improve the mistakes, and this could be your team. 

Eastern Washington is looking to get back to the lofty levels of 2010 when they wore the championship mantle.  One of the best receivers in the game, Brandon Kaufman, can change a game.  Ask Illinois State.  Any team that is seven points from 13-0 must be doing something right.  However, 21 turnovers and a defense that gives up a lot of yardage shows the vulnerability.  Both playoff games have been somewhat close as well, at least until late.  A team that goes 5-0 versus FBS/ranked/playoff teams should make a lot of opponents nervous.  No reason to think this team isn't talented enough or able to win a couple more. 

Last, but not least, Sam Houston State is looking for their second straight title game appearance.  With a stellar RB-QB combo in Tim Flanders and Brian Bell respectively, this is a team that scores the 2nd most points in the country with nearly 42 per game.  Some of the team’s defensive numbers are also near the top of the rankings. Pass D is an issue, but it hasn't lost them a game...yet.  They are consistent and excellent in so many ways and this is a team that can beat you in several different game styles.  Having lost to possibly the three best teams that the Bearkats have faced could be a red flag.  Still, giving up only 13 points per game to non-FBS competition is fierce.  It will be hard to pick against them. 

So, you have the Missouri Valley Conference outright champion, the Southern Conference co-champion who gained the automatic bid, the Big Sky co-champion who likewise won the auto bid, and the Southland Conference co-champion who entered the playoffs as an at large.  All told, you have four teams worthy of being called champion.  Each has maneuvered through the season with their own style and flair, their own diverse game plan and focus.  But they have all had only one ultimate goal…to win the 2012 FCS National Championship. 

So who will it be?  For my money, I like the ground and pound modus operandi of Georgia Southern.  With a revenge game this week and then four weeks to prepare...this is my pick.  But that's just this one man's humble opinion.  Who knows?


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