FCS Pick ‘Em – Semifinal Edition

Well here we are. It’s the next to last weekend for the FCS season and the lead is one game. Jeff and I have picked today’s NDSU-Sam Houston game, so there’s one other game to pick. We’ll also choose the D2 and D3 Title games!

                                                                        DOM  (150-51)          JEFF (149-52)

  • Illinois State at New Hampshire          Ill. State                   UNH
D2 Championship Game 
  • MSU Mankato vs CSU Pueblo           MSU Mankato         CSU-Pueblo

D3 Championship Game
  • Wis-Whitewater vs Mt Union              Mt. Union                  Whitewater


Here come the ‘Kats

Sam Houston State comes to Fargo on Friday as the hottest team in the FCS, many will look at SHSU and stare at the D2 loss to Colorado State-Pueblo, but since then the team has won 10 of 11 and found itself on the offensive side of the ball. This is a completely different team than Bison fans got to know in 2011 and 2012; Brian Bell, Tim Flanders and Richard Sincere all graduated last year, Willie Fritz left Huntsville for Georgia Southern. In came K.C. Keeler, former Delaware head coach and he brought a boatload of transfers with him.

Keyshawn Hill leads Sam Houston’s running attack into Fargo on Friday night.

17 transfers in fact; and some impressive ones in that. The one that jumps off the page is LaDarius Brown, wide receiver from TCU, who was dismissed for marijuana possession, he’s SHSU’s deep threat with 43 receptions for 780 yards and seven touchdowns. The quarterback is Jared Johnson, a dynamic threat with both his arm and his legs; he’s completed just 57 percent of his passes, but has thrown for 21 touchdowns, to go along with nearly 1,000 yards rushing and add in six touchdowns. Keyshawn Hill is Flanders’ replacement, he waited three years for his time and has shown he’s impressive, he’s over 1100 yards rushing with 18 touchdowns, going for nearly six yards a carry.

Defensively is where SHSU struggles, they are allowing nearly 28 points per game, giving up 22 rushing touchdowns and 30 passing touchdowns; to compare that with NDSU, the Bison have allowed just 21 touchdowns combined all year.

It may be oversimplifying things to say NDSU’s offense needs another strong game like what happened on Saturday, but stopping the Bearkats three headed monster will be the biggest key of a win on Friday night.

JUST IN: Kyle Emanuel was just named the Buck Buchanan award winner for 2014, that goes to the best defensive player in the FCS. Emanuel racked up 16.5 sacks during the regular season, becomes the first NDSU player to win an individual award since the Bison moved up to Division 1. Emanuel will be at Chris Klieman’s weekly press conference, that can be seen LIVE on WDAY’Z Xtra at 11:30 am this morning on Channel 29 on Cable One, 596 on MidContinent and wday.com


Media Blog Postgame Show vs Coastal Carolina

Another nailbiter at the Fargodome, but it’s another NDSU win. The Bison defense was pushed around by Coastal Carolina as the Chanticleers were poised to pull off the upset, but John Crockett saved the best performance of his career for when NDSU needed it the most, ripping off 227 yards and two touchdowns to propel NDSU into the semifinals for a matchup with Sam Houston State. Join Big E, Jeff and me as we break down NDSU’s 39-32 win and preview next week’s game.


FCS Pick ‘Em – Quarterfinal round

Simply put, last week was a disaster for me in the Pick ‘Em. Similar to the Mets collaspse in 2007 and 2008, my four-game lead is gone and we’re tied up heading into the final three weeks. The Nickel is up for grabs!

                                                                           DOM   (144-51)     JEFF (144-51)

  • (8) Chattanooga at (1) New Hampshire      UNH                 UNH
  • Sam Houston at (6) Villanova                      Nova                Nova
  • (5) Illinois St at (4) Eastern Washington     Ill St.                 EWU

  • Army at Navy                                                  Navy                Navy

  • Concord at MSU Mankato                       Mankato               Mankto
  • West Georgia at CSU Pueblo                 CSU-P                   CSU-P

How much can experience help?

One of the overriding themes of this year’s playoffs with NDSU is experience. We all know about what the Bison brought back this year and how much that has helped this season, but what about teams making repeat trips to the Fargodome? SDSU may not be the best example, since the Jacks come to Fargo every other year, but you could tell SDSU wasn’t really fazed by the environment last week. So maybe to provide a better example for what may be in store with Coastal Carolina this Saturday, let’s go back a couple years.

NDSU faced Georgia Southern in back to back playoffs, much like this year with Coastal Carolina.

Georgia Southern first came to the dome for the 2011 semifinals, a game that was thoroughly dominated by NDSU, Eagle quarterback Jaybo Shaw fumbled on the second possession of the game for GSU and the game got out of hand after that, as the Eagles fumbled two more times en route to a 35-7 loss.

When GSU returned in 2012, sixteen starters came back from that team in 2011, but that did not include Jerick McKinnon, who was by far the best player on the field that night, he finished with 168 rushing yards, a passing and rushing touchdown. GSU did protect the football that night, the one turnover a forced fumble by Travis Beck early in the third quarter that led to a NDSU touchdown. The one factor that you can point to say maybe the experience factor didn’t help GSU in 2012 was penalties. Georgia Southern had just two penalties in 2011, compare that to 13 penalties for 103 yards in the rematch. Every Bison fan will remember the personal foul penalty on Christian Dudzik that set up the game winning touchdown drive.

When it’s all said and done, one can assume that Coastal being in the loudness and craziness will help on Saturday, but executing at a level where Georgia Southern did in 2012 will be the biggest factor if the Chanticleers are ready to change the result.

Round Two with the Chants

Coastal Carolina is coming back to Fargo for a second straight year, but before you write off another Bison blowout win like last season’s 48-14 quarterfinal win, some things you should know about the Chanticleers:

Alex Ross and Coastal Carolina return to Fargo for a second straight year on Saturday.

  • Alex Ross returns as quarterback, now a junior, he’s had another great season, named the Big South Offensive Player of the Year, he’s thrown for 32 hundred yards and 20 touchdowns, while rushing for another 670 yards and seven touchdowns. He was on the run a majority of the game last year in Fargo, but he’s played in some big time environments in his short career, including a win at Montana last year. His ability to stay calm will be a big factor Saturday.
  • De’Angelo Henderson has taken over for Lorenzo Taliafero (who now plays for the Ravens); Henderson has racked up 19 touchdowns and nearly 14 hundred yards, he’s 5’8, 205 pounds and has good speed, he’s not as good as Taliafero, but will be a big challenge on Saturday.
  • Matt Hazel is gone as well from CCU’s wide receiving core, but the Chants have several receivers that can be threats; Bruce Mapp and John Israel lead the way there.
  • Quinn Backus is Coastal’s best defensive player, he’s a linebacker and the conference defensive player of the year with 119 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions.
  • Fans will look at Coastal’s schedule and say they didn’t play anybody and while that argument will have some merit, they won and won close games, including a one point game at North Carolina A&T and a double-overtime win at Furman. Liberty held the Chants to a season low 14 points, Turner Gill’s team played great defense that day, I’m positive NDSU will be looking that game tape over this week.

Much more coming Monday on the video blog, join us then!

Media Blog PostGame Show vs SDSU – FCS Playoffs

It was another classic game Saturday at the Fargodome to add to the likes of Georgia Southern in 2012, UNI in 2013 and Sam Houston State in 2007. The Bison rallied in the final minute as Carson Wentz connected with true freshman receiver RJ Urzendowski on a 12 yard touchdown to complete a 27-24 comeback win over SDSU. Join Jeff, Big E and me as we break down a thrilling game at the dome.

DISCLAIMER: Due to NCAA and ESPN regulations, we are NOT allowed to show highlights on the video blog.

FCS Pick ‘Em – Playoffs 2nd Round

Welcome to the second round folks, there are some tremendous matchups around the country tomorrow; it’s going to be hard to follow everything going on leading up to the Bison game, but will do our best, check out the blog after the Pregame show at 11:30, we’ll launch early and be tracking the games tomorrow around 12:30. As for the Pick ‘Em, the Nickel is looking like it might be staying in the “new” Izzo Bunker…

                                                                   DOM (141-47)            JEFF (137-51)

  • Fordham at (1) UNH                          UNH                         UNH
  • Indiana St at (8) Chattanooga          Indy St                    Chatt
  • Richmond at (6)Coastal Carolina    Richmond               Coastal
  • Sam Houston at (3) Jax State           Jax State               Sam
  • UNI at (5) Illinois State                      UNI                          Ill State
  • Montana at (4)Eastern Wash            EWU                        EWU
  • Liberty at (6) Villanova                      Nova                       Nova

Ready for the spotlight

I was doing a little digging for a story I was working on for the WDAY Sports on Thursday and came up with this nugget. The last core of linebackers to start a playoff game for NDSU that didn’t include Travis Beck? 2010 at Eastern Washington; it was Brandon Jemison, Preston Evans and Matt Andeson. A lot has changed since then, but Beck will not be out there on Saturday against SDSU. Instead the responsibility falls to true sophomore Nick DeLuca; who has played plenty this season and says he’s ready for the workload.