FCS Pick ‘Em – Playoffs Edition – 1st Round

The playoffs have arrived and the Nickel is still up for grabs. After a crazy final weekend of the season, I picked up one game on Kolpack to lead by three heading into this weekend. Here are the picks for tomorrow’s 1st round games, my entire bracket will be posted later today.

                                                              DOM  (135-45)          JEFF  (132-48)

  • Sacred Heart at Fordham              Fordham
  • Indiana State at E. Kentucky       Ind. St.
  • Stephen F. Austin at UNI                UNI
  • San Diego at Montana                  Montana
  • SE Louisiana at SHSU                 SELA
  • Liberty at James Madison            JMU
  • Morgan State at Richmond         Richmond
  • SDSU at Montana State               SDSU

JIM DELANEY “VARSITY GAME OF WEEK”
  • Mississippi State at Ole Miss     Ole Miss

10 Things For Bison Fans To Be Thankful For

As I start this article I want to first wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, to enjoy the day and spend it with family and friends and hopefully a dash of football. I know I can speak for Jeff that we are very thankful for everyone that stops by and checks out the blog, its come a long way in a short period of time, so for everyone that shouts at me in the dome parking lot to at the games, thank you!

A second ESPN Gameday trip in 2014 should be a big thing Bison fans are thankful for.

Here are my 10 things that Bison fans should be thankful for over the past calendar year.

10. Roger Kish - The Bison wrestling program has been making some major waves over the last couple of years, including back to back All-Americans, with a loaded lineup in 2015 and an impressive schedule, perhaps a dual win over a top 10 team is next? Bison fans should be thankful for one of the top rising coaches in the country.

9. ESPN loves NDSU - That was confirmed again last week when ESPN selected NDSU-Montana as the FCS Kickoff game in 2015. That goes on top of the fact that College Gameday returned for a second straight year this past September to an even bigger crowd than in 2013. Add on that the Bison appeared on ESPN in the FCS quarters against Coastal Carolina, ESPN 2 against UNH and Towson and another couple of appearances thanks to basketball and baseball. It’s exposure that a lot of mid-major schools will never see.

8. Softball and track keep winning - You see schools have programs that bubble up for one season or two and then go away, but that’s not the case with this school. Softball proved again to be the best in the Summit League and then beat Auburn in the NCAA Tournament, while track sent its best relay team to Oregon to perform on the national stage.

7. The “SHAC” - Construction started shortly after the basketball season wrapped up and now if you go past what was the BSA it’s a different sight each time. Bison fans are getting a little bit of a sneak peek inside Scheels Arena with the basketball team and already you can tell they are going to love the finished project in two years time.

6. Saul Phillips - The man who was promising the SHAC since the Bison recruited Ben  Ben Woodside deserves A LOT of thanks from Bison fans for putting their program on the map. Two NCAA Tournament trips in five years, a NCAA tourney win and a boatload of memories. Phillips was a reporters dream, always good for a joke and a great story. You can’t think of Saul without thinking of Ben Woodside’s shot in 2009 to Phillips running across the court after the win over Oklahoma. He left Fargo in April, but the memories will last for a long time.

5. Chris Klieman - The current head coach of the Bison football team; was the architect of the best defense in the FCS over the past two years. Klieman molded NDSU’s defense and found some tremendous playmakers from Christian Dudzik to CJ Smith to Kyle Emanuel. The career assistant came to Fargo with what he thought was a chance to be a head coach and has ran with it. He’s guided NDSU to a fourth straight Valley title and the number two seed in the FCS playoffs and assembled a staff that’s poised to do something that no one has done in this division.

4. The football Class of 2010- I think I’m out of words after what I wrote last week about these sixteen guys, but if you want to kill about fifteen minutes you can click here.

3. Brock Jensen -  In my mind the greatest quarterback in Bison history, he completed the three-peat in style last year, earning Valley Offensive Player of the Year honors; he was tremendous in 2013 becoming the schools leader in passing and TD passes. His drive at Kansas State was the stuff of legend and will be a member of the Bison Hall of Fame someday down the road.

2. Gene Taylor - The architect of everything, he was the man responsible for leading the charge to Division 1, the man who hired Craig Bohl, Saul Phillips and Chris Klieman. Taylor was the man who got NDSU into the Summit League and the Missouri Valley Football Conference after the Big Sky said no and has NDSU perfectly positioned for its next move if it chooses to make it. Taylor got the money necessary to get Fieldturf at Dacotah Field to the final funds to make the SHAC a reality. His accomplishments can’t not be overstated and while many Bison fans were upset when he left for Iowa, I don’t think anyone would begrudge him.

1. Craig Bohl - In my mind the person who Bison fans should be most thankful of in 2014. I’m sure there are still some people who are upset the way Bohl left and how it came out, but there’s no argument about what he accomplished in Fargo. Bohl took a program that was coming off a 2-8 season in 2002 and four years later nearly beat the University of Minnesota. He actually did beat the Gophers the following year and then backed it up in 2011. In between he added wins against Ball State, Central Michigan and Kansas. He took Bison football to a level where it hadn’t been since the mid-80′s and perhaps surpassed that with the level of fandom that’s been created over the past three years. Bohl’s blueprint is still felt here nearly a year after he left, and while there are still hard feelings for some, those people should be thankful to even have hard feelings that he left in the first place.

 

Tuesday’s hot links

Some final thoughts on the bracket

Well we can put bracketology to bed for another year, the 24 team was revealed on Sunday morning with a few surprises, for the record the Media Blog team accurately predicted 23 out of 24 teams. Safe to say NDSU fans and followers of the division were a bit surprised when they saw New Hampshire grab the top overall seed and not NDSU, especially when Robert Hill, the chairman of the FCS playoff committee said on the selection show that they valued UNH going unbeaten thru the breadth of the season after losing the season opener more than NDSU’s FBS win over Iowa State, then losing its third to last game of the season against UNI. That logic seems faulty to me, but the important thing for NDSU was to be the 1 or 2 seed and that’s what they got for the fourth straight year, the ability to play at home throughout the playoffs without having to leave Fargo.

Could NDSU get another crack at SDSU in the playoffs? (Photo courtesy: Carrie Snyder – Forum of Fargo-Moorhead)

If you look at NDSU’s side of the bracket; there are some familiar faces for sure, starting with SDSU and Coastal Carolina, but Sam Houston State is there, along with James Madison and Morgan State, past Bison opponents. NDSU fans may not know a lot about Villanova or Jacksonville State, but these are quality teams, the Gamecocks won two playoff games last year and their only loss this season was to Michigan State. Frankly, the hottest team east of Northern Iowa in the FCS is JMU, the Dukes have won seven straight and quarterback Vad Lee has been tearing defenses up left and right. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Dukes win two games or more this playoff year.

As for the top half; New Hampshire may have received the top seed, but they got placed with some impressive teams. Illinois State and Northern Iowa are each in the Wildcats bracket, but one of them will be knocked out by the time they’d be UNH. Also thrown in is Eastern Washington, the Eagles are guaranteed to play at least two home games and then would have to go on the road where they are a completely different team off the red turf.

The committee did break precedent this year, for the first time since 2003 taking a team with five losses into the field. Indiana State grabbed the fifth bid out of the Missouri Valley (a record for the league) and they can thank their tough non-conference schedule as a big reason why. The Sycamores played two FBS schools and won one of those games (Ball State) then beat Liberty (that win made better thanks to the Flames beating Coastal Carolina yesterday) and of course the win over UNI. Two wins over two playoff teams and a FBS win is hard to ignore on the resume. Our thoughts yesterday was with Bethune-Cookman’s eight FCS wins (including a FBS win) was the tiebreaker to put them in over Indiana State. For the Missouri Valley, this is the first step towards some national recognition, getting five teams into the playoffs is a great accomplishment and a reflection of a 23-1 non-conference record vs FCS teams. The next step is playoff success; besides NDSU, there hasn’t been any. The Valley teams have a combined 4-4 record since 2011 (just UNI and SDSU) with just one team making the quarterfinals. The problem with the bracket though is there’s a possibility of two intra-Valley matchups in the second round, meaning two will be sent home early.

The biggest complaint may come from the Southland offices in Frisco, where two of its teams will play each other in the FIRST round. SE Louisiana and Sam Houston did not play during the regular season, so that’s why they were paired against each other now. Can’t believe Southland commish Tom Burnett is happy about that, especially with his league hosting the championship game.

The first round games should provide some great action, SDSU-Montana State and Eastern Kentucky-Indiana State intrigue me. As for the Bison, they have proven over the past few years that they can handle the Jacks, Zach Zenner had his best career running day this season versus NDSU, but then Carson Wentz had a monster day rushing. Austin Sumner was playing his first game back from breaking bones in his foot, he’s looked sharp  in the three games since then. As for Montana State, the Bobcats are not coming in off their best performance, committing seven turnovers in the Brawl of the Wild game, but also played without dual threat QB Dakota Prukop and running back Shawn Johnson, both who are still questionable for this week’s game against the Jacks.

One thing is for certain; we are guaranteed some great drama on this road, can’t wait for it begin on Saturday.

Sunday’s hot links

FCS Selection Show LIVE Blog

Well we’ve given you who we think will be in the field, it’s time to see who ACTUALLY be in the field, join Jeff, Big E and me at 9:30 am as we’ll watch the show with you, show starts at 10 am on ESPN U!

Live Blog FCS Selection Show Live Blog
 

2014 Bison Media Blog Bracketology Show

Ladies and Gentlemen, I know you’ve been waiting for this all season long, here at the Bison Media Blog we present the 24 teams we believe will make the field. At the bottom of the post; you’ll see our bracket projections. Reminder we will live blog the Selecton Show starting at 9:30 am, the show airs from 10-11 on ESPNU.


Jeff’s Projected Bracket

Dom’s Projected Bracket