North Dakota State 2013 FCS Football Playoff Capsule

North Dakota State Bison
Missouri Valley


How good is the two-time defending FCS national champion and current No. 1 team? According to Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings, North Dakota State would be listed No. 24 of all college football teams. The best finish in recent years in his ratings by a team that was Division I-AA was Marshall in 1996. The Thundering Herd, with Randy Moss as top receiver, finished 14th in the rankings. Expected to do well this season, North Dakota State is bidding to become the first undefeated FCS champion since that ’96 Marshall team. The Bison opened their season with a convincing 24-21 victory at Kansas State. They rarely have been threatened since, although Northern Iowa just missed upsetting the Bison, losing 24-23 in Fargo, N.D. In addition, the Bison are trying to become the first team since Appalachian State (2005-07) to win three consecutive titles.

2013 Record: 11-0, 8-0
Coach: Craig Bohl

Big Wins: 8/30 at Kansas State (24-21), 11/16 at Youngstown State (35-17)
Bad Losses: None

Veteran quarterback Brock Jensen runs the offense with great success. With the regular-season finale victory over South Dakota Jensen has become the all-time winningest quarterback in FCS history. The Bison rank second nationally in time of possession and third-down conversions, and the advantage is most notable in the fourth quarter. North Dakota State is averaging 9:32 in the final period, including five games over 10 minutes and a season-high 11:31 against Youngstown State. Senior Sam Ojuri has become the sixth running back in school history to eclipse the 3,000 career yards mark. The team strengths aren’t all on the offensive side either. The Bison are second nationally in scoring defense and second in total defense. And for you stat geeks out there, here’s one for you: Through 10 games, opponents have only been in North Dakota State’s red zone 16 times. No other team in FCS is even close to that number.

The injury bug has hit North Dakota State. Standout middle linebacker Grant Olson tore his ACL a few games ago in the same game that senior defensive back Marcus Williams twisted his knee. Olson is gone for the playoffs while Williams is expected to play. Obviously, there aren’t many weaknesses on this team, but one notable statistic is the Bison don’t create many turnovers. Through 10 games, North Dakota State opponents have committed just 13 turnovers – and five of those came in the first two games against Kansas State and Ferris State. College Sports Madness noted at the beginning of the year that one of the Bison’s biggest concerns would be motivation. An unbeaten regular season answered that question, and if the Bison want that three-peat national championship, they’re going to be difficult to stop.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Sam Ojuri, RB, 1,002 yards
Passing: Brock Jensen, QB, 2,076 yards
Receiving: Zach Vraa, WR, 874 yards
Tackles: Grant Olson, LB, 79
Sacks: Kyle Emanuel, DE, 6.5
Interceptions: Christian Dudzik, FS, 3

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 231.9 (15th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 199.7 (75, 6)
Total Offense: 431.6 (29, 1)
Scoring Offense: 36.6 (18, 1)
Rushing Defense: 88.5 (3, 1)
Pass Defense: 157.4 (7, 2)
Total Defense: 245.9 (2, 1)
Scoring Defense: 12.7 (2, 1)
Turnover Margin: -0.1 (67, 7)
Sacks: 2.90 (15, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.20 (22, 1)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
2012    Second Round    Defeated South Dakota State
2012    Quarterfinals        Defeated Wofford
2012    Semifinals        Defeated Georgia Southern
2012    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 11/16


Playoff Central