Top 6 Of 2014

Many national FBS writers can put out their Top 25 of 2014, but there’s plenty of unknowns in the FCS and while I could guess at one and have you all laugh at me in November; I’m going to keep it to six for 2014; so here we go!

Carson Wentz will presumably take over the NDSU offense in 2014.

  • 1. NDSU - The three-time defending champs will be my preseason number one for 2014 and take a 24 game winning streak into next season. With Kevin Vaadeland returning, the Bison have 14 starters back; with 7 of those being on defense, add on three more from that side of the ball that have extensive playing experience; and that’s the biggest reason why I see NDSU contending next season; because of its defense, something many FCS schools don’t play. The Bison face an Iowa State that won just two games to open the year and have a Montana team coming to Fargo in mid-September; and a November schedule that is stacked. Obviously the biggest question mark that will surround Chris Klieman’s team is quarterback, is Carson Wentz ready to ascend to the top spot?
  • 2. Eastern Washington - The Eagles are still loaded and will be the Big Sky Preseason favorites in 2014. Vernon Adams is just a junior and will be in his third year as a starting quarterback, the Walter Payton finalist already is a frontrunner for the award for 2014. Adams has two of his biggest weapons back; including freshman phenom Cooper Kupp, who won the Jerry Rice Award this year(thanks to his 38,000 TDs) ; and running back Quincy Forte. The Eagles have a daunting non-conference schedule again next season; at Washington, home with Sam Houston State and a non-conference trip to Bozeman to play Montana State.
  • 3.  Northern Iowa - The Panthers are loaded for bear in 2014 and I believe will be the biggest challengers to the Bison for the Valley title next season. Sawyer Kollmorgen enters his 3rd season as a starting quarterback and got better as the season went along; David Johnson is also back to torture defenses; Bison fans will remember his 85 yard touchdown burst against NDSU this season. Jake Farley returns as well to anchor a defense; that also has Xavier Williams up front, who is a giant. Here’s the catch with UNI, much like 2012, the Panthers are playing 2 FBS games in 2014, opening the year at Iowa, then two weeks later they go to Hawaii. It’s not like Wisconsin, but it is 2 FBS games. November 8th, 2014 may be the game of the year in FCS; NDSU at UNI.
  • 4. Southeastern Louisiana - The Lions were a breath away from coming to Fargo for the FCS semis this year until New Hampshire put together a game winning drive. Bryan Bennett, the transfer from Oregon is back and they have replaced Sam Houston as the favorites now in the Southland. They have a dynamic offense and unlike most teams in FCS, they do play some defense, which makes them dangerous. They play Tulane for their FBS game next season, which is a winnable matchup, SELA could be a final four contender in 2014.
  • 5. Montana - The Grizzlies can’t avoid Craig Bohl after all; as they open next season in Laramie against Wyoming. They also have a trip to Fargo on September 20th, with a game against Joe Glenn’s improving South Dakota team the week before. Jordan Johnson returns at quarterback for his senior season and the Griz offense runs thru him. They have plenty of talent all over the field, including at running back with Jordan Canada, they’ll battle with Eastern Washington for the Big Sky crown.
  • 6. SDSU - The Jacks have the two things that you need for a long playoff run, talent and experience. Austin Sumner and Zach Zenner are back AGAIN and will be formidable for defenses to stop. SDSU did lose plenty of both sides of the line, but they have had some nice recruiting classes over the past couple of seasons, so we’ll see how that bears out. The non-conference schedule is tough, opening up at Missouri, along with games at Southern Utah and a home game with Cal Poly, they also come to Fargo in 2014.
  • BONUS TEAMS – Jacksonville State and New Hampshire - Let’s start with JSU; they will become the team to beat in the Ohio Valley with Jimmy Garoppolo gone from Eastern Illinois; the Gamecocks made a nice playoff run to the quarters before losing to EWU this season, they have a talented QB and RB and will be the team in OVC that scores points in bunches. New Hampshire brings nearly everyone back in 2014, including QB Sean Goldrich, Nico Steriti at RB and a couple of solid wide receivers. With Terrance West gone to the NFL, UNH becomes the favorite in the CAA for next season.

There you have it folks, my six to watch in 2014, bookmark this post and we can all laugh at it come Selection Sunday next season!

23 thoughts on “Top 6 Of 2014

  1. Yes Carson Wentz is ready. He has been groomed for this moment for 3 years. Has all the tools to succeed. Looking forward to seeing him take over.

  2. Great stuff as always Dom.

    It’s interesting that in your summary of both Big Sky teams, you only mention players on the offensive side of the ball that are returning and thus, the team can pin their hopes on. Until either of those teams or anyone else in that conference learns to play defense on a consistent basis, their ability to get to the FCS Championship, much less win it, will be one dimensional. NDSU is the best example of that theory having proven it over the past three years.

  3. Which Big Sky LB will win the Buchanon award in 2014? They have the right recipe: Quick strike offense, porous defense, and poor Time of possession should position any Big Sky LB for this award again in 2014 as these defenses see more plays to pad their stats. Hopefully someone will figure out that theses gaudy stats do not tell the story of quality defenses.

  4. That is a good six Dom, I think most people would have to agree with your choices. Great job on all the Bison coverage this year! I really appreciate the time you put in to keep us happy! Go Bison!

  5. Wentz is important but what about the d-line? In my opinion, the redshirt freshman d-tackles are going to be the most important players this off season. If they step up and provide depth, it could make or break the team depending on their abilityt to keep the LB’s clean and put some pressure on the QB’s.

  6. Not going to lie…. football is great in all, but I want basketball coverage of a real team making its way to the dance not football hypothetical. The basketball team deserves some more press now that football season is over!

    • Nicely put, we had to listen to four years of a Denarius McGhee led team hype that never panned out. Glad that is over.

  7. Hot ticket to get next year looks to be the UNI game down there.
    Montana State backed out of our game and it would have been fun to stomp them this year, but really their fans and the team are pretty decent and friendly. I visited with many at their place in 2010 when we crushed them in the playoffs. They were very complimentary of our team and almost envious. As for the Griz, they will be rabid. They have been a top dog in FCS for a long time and many of them hated to see us win ever! That is the Montana team that hates NDSU.
    Every team in the conference will now think they can beat us much easier than the past few years. I think this might work in our favor, by them perhaps not giving us their best game. WE got game and will have game.
    Go Bison.

  8. wheres the 14 starters coming back?

    offense:
    vraa
    vaadeland
    johnson
    colville
    haeg

    no drop off from ojuri to crockett. but he doesnt count as a starter.

    defense:
    emanuel
    littlejohn
    beck
    heagle
    dudzik
    smith

    not sure you can count esley as he was a backup plus he didnt start every game when olson got injured

  9. Bison first team to 4peat ever! Mark it down. We have the best defense in all of college football and return 7 starters with plenty of experience among the non-starters. I think our offense will take a few games to gel but Wentz is going to be a great QB. This team reloads, plus we return all our WR except Smith. Crockett and Morlock will have similar numbers as Crockett and Ojuri. I don’t see more then 3 losses on the schedule next year. We may lose to Iowa State and UM before we can gel offensively. The UNI game will be a tough one. Our other conference games we should be favored. I say at least 9-3 and if we can make it to the playoffs I like our chances. GO BISON!!!

  10. We will know in the Iowa State game how good we will be but I will stick with prediction earlier we win IS and now that we could have another game before Montana we win that one too with one conference loss 11-1 or 10-1. The main reason Klieman and Entz will have the defense ready and with the addition of Hedberg he will get Carson Wenz ready. We will have the offense the scores quickly with great passing early in games then go into ball control mode to keep the defense fresh. This will be a fun team to watch.

  11. The Bison offense just received a welcomed addition with the Nebraska Husker transfer, King Frasier. Sweet !!! Should be quite a battle for the 2 spot at RB with Morlock, Frasier, et al.

  12. Love dem Bison!! Roamed NDAC in 60-61— Missed Frisco and 32 Below, but will be there 2015. 24 pieces leaving is Huge– Cannot understand why more 3 to 5 Star recruits have not committed to this wonderful program?? Also, would be nice to see tougher nonconference schedule– No Tomato cans– Delaware State, Ferris State, etc why did Montana State cancel last year??? fear?? Now, what does it take to get some recognition from Peter King(Don’s brother) and Sports Illustrated?? They deserve a cover, am I wrong Dude??? its Bison poop——

  13. Dom or Jeff, what do we know about the Nebraska RB transferring in? King Frazier . . . is he eligible right away?

  14. Can’t argue with the top six save one team. NDSU returns far more starters than I thought. The Iowa State game figures to be tougher now that Mark Mangino is the OC in Ames and they are supposed to have an All-American recruit at WR (may redshirt though). This year’s Bison team would have destroyed the Cyclones, next year’s will face more of an uphill climb, especially with new QB and an ISU team that would get roasted if it lost to another FCS team in consecutive years. UNI probably ends up as a loss but the rest of the schedule doesn’t look imposing.

    The Jacks have a lot of skill guys back but those lines will be tough to replace. And that schedule looks like a bear. I think if they’re going to make a deep playoff run they need homefield (IE a conference title). Having to play at NDSU and UNI I highly doubt it. I think they’ll either miss the playoffs altogether with that schedule or, if they’re good enough to win 8-10, be a seeded team. They’ll either go big or go home.

    Montana is SO overrated by everyone it’s silly. Living off the past. Great team in the Big Fluffy where nobody plays a lick of defense. Put them against physical teams and they’re in trouble. South Dakota’s been bottom of the heap the last two years in the Valley and they go toe-to-toe with them every time. Jordan Johnson puts up gaudy numbers against the UND’s of that league. That’s real hard ain’t it? They’ll probably win the Fluffy and get homefield because they’ll pack 25-26 in WaGRIZ, but that place lost a lot of luster this year losing to a southern team in freezing temps.

  15. The Bison will be very good next year, but if they struggle early and lose three games, based on this past year one has to wonder if they will even make the playoffs. The Big Fluffy gets way too much respect and too many teams into the playoffs which hurts the Missouri Valley.