Well that was fun. If the FCS ever wanted a chance to latch on to casual college football fans, that was the game to do it, it had everything, great plays, huge hits, huge momentum swings and a thrilling finish. In the end, Brock Jensen was terrific when it mattered most scoring the game winning touchdown with just over 3 minutes left and NDSU is heading back to Frisco for a 2nd straight year. Somehow they’ve managed to gut out wins all year, going back to Southern Illinois, Missouri State, the first SDSU game, Wofford and now GSU. The Bison will now play the winner of Eastern Washington and Sam Houston State, Jeff, E and I have a full breakdown and more coming in the next couple of days as Kolpack will have to get the old cowboy hat back out, cause the Media Blog is heading to Texas!
And so the coronation can begin for Mr. Kolpack, after an 8-1 record last week storming thru the D-2 and D-3 picks, he can rightfully say to me all year long that he knows more than me on picking games. But I would like to ask him if he has any idea what league San Jose State, Butler or Florida International will play in next year! Sour grapes I know, we have a huge night of coverage planned, for those that live in the Red River Valley, I’ll be live on the field at 5 and 6 on WDAY, and for those that aren’t our website will have our interviews there, the PreGame Show will fire up around 5, and live blog as well. Here we go with our picks!
DOM (15-12) JEFF (19-8)
- Georgia Southern at NDSU NDSU NDSU
- Sam Houston St at Eastern Washington EWU EWU
DIVISION 2 TITLE GAME
- Valdosta St vs Winston-Salem St W-S Valdosta
DIVISION 3 TITLE GAME
- St. Thomas vs Mount Union MU STU
On the eve of one of the biggest games in Bison football history, I thought it was interesting to note that NDSU has history with the other 3 semifinalists in a rather large way, and it happened in a short time, which makes it even more impressive.
Georgia Southern – This one speaks for itself obviously with last year’s game in Fargo and with the result sending a message to the rest of FCS that NDSU is for real and here to stay. Overlooked though was the first game the two teams played in 2006, when the Bison dominated GSU in Statesboro as well, part of another 10-1 season then.
Sam Houston State - The national championship game will stand out for everyone for a long time especially with NDSU’s defensive performance in that game, but the previous two games between the two teams were also hearstoppers, the 2007 game here in Fargo may have been the most exciting game in Dome history and the 2009 game in Hunstville could be described as one of the worst defensive performances in Bison history, it’s been a long time since anyone came close to 600 total yards against NDSU like the Bearkats did that day.
Eastern Washington - I’ve seen 6 years of Bison football and next to the 2007 SHSU game, the Eastern game was by far the most exciting game I’ve seen. Add to it it was a playoff game with a Bison team that barely snuck into the playoffs, had already won 2 games and it seemed like it was playing its best football of the season. The game had everything you could want, blocked field goals, 2 kickoff returns for touchdowns, a pick 6, a comeback, snow and a controversial ending. To go on top of it the game was played on a red football field. I have a sneaking suspicioun that if the Bison win tomorrow night that the fans would like to see Eastern Washington in Frisco.
If there’s another common theme among these four teams, it’s stability and great recruiting. These teams are built for the long haul and are set up to be making repeat trips to the final four and championship games for the next few years.
Moore won 215 games at App State, 10 conference titles and oh yeah that run of 3 straight FCS titles from 2005-07, perhaps even more impressive was App State’s 2007 win at Michigan that every college football fan will remember. Moore was outspoken that the Mountaineers should stay in FCS, where they draw 30K for each game and are consistently a playoff contender. App State Charlie Cobb thought differently, even going so far back in May to publicly court Conference USA for App State, this is a letter he sent to the student base about C-USA.
Georgia Southern’s longtime athletic director Sam Baker resigned over just this disagreement over the summer. You’ll remember the story came out in April that GSU was all for moving up to FBS, just waiting for a conference invite that never came. The student body voted for an increase in fees to make it happen fiscally but Baker never got behind the move that his president wanted so badly. There is one striking contrast to these schools where Moore was pretty public about staying FCS, Jeff Monken has tweeted constantly about moving the Eagles up to FBS.
Each of these schools have not received any official invitations from FBS leagues, with the Sun Belt’s recent additions, one figures that Georgia Southern can’t be too far away from an invite, while Appalachian State’s long-time hope of playing in the same league with East Carolina seems to be shot with the Pirates on their way to the Big East. I wonder if moving up to the next division is worth losing two guys who helped lead the schools to national prominence and distinction.
I’d like to say that Jeff and I are always on the front lines of what happens in the world of FCS, but this move even surpises me. Late last night, the Statesboro Herald reported that Georgia Southern will move its football program to the FBS. Two parts to this story... Here are the two links to the story.
For those that missed our discussion last week, Jeff and I talked about Georgia Southern moving up, fast forward to about 8 minutes in.
- GSU President believes moving from FCS to FBS makes school more national than regional university.
- Soaring to Victory Campaign; it’s an 8 year, 36.6 million dollar campaign to ensure future athletic success, with 5 phases, the most expensive going towards Stabilizing the Program (15.5 mill) that’s towards recruiting advantages and paying their coaches, to upgrading facilites, the centerpiece is the Football Operations Center, a 57,000 square foot building that will cost 10 million dollars, the school believes can transform the program.
- 5.1 million dollars has already been raised, if GSU gets the necessary 10 million, they believe construction can begin in 12-18 months, they have not yet begun a marketing campaign to raise the remaining money.
- GSU’s Athletic Budget is 12 million dollars, the school says they’d need a minimum addition of 4.4 million annually to cover everything from travel costs to more scholarships (going from 63 to 85)
- Georgia Southern’s budget ranks 95th out of 125 schools in FCS
- Part of the expansion project would be to expand Paulson Stadium from it’s current 18,000 seats to nearly 25,000 and a new scoreboard.
- Interesting comments from the President, saying “Locker Rooms are atrocious, don’t show it to recruits” also went on to say, “No one gets excited about FCS, no one knows where Frisco, Texas is and who plays in the Championship Game”
- No Conference lined up yet, several in discussion
Well now it’s really getting fun. Jeff and I have been covering this team for 20 weeks now (14 games, 2 byes, and 4 weeks of training camp) and NDSU sits a win away from playing for the national championship. I don’t think I have to tell anyone though that this is the best team the Bison have faced all season. A look at the Georgia Southern stats in a minute. But first a history lesson…
As most of you know, the Eagles were supposed to come to Fargo back on September 10th of this season, but they bought out of the game, here’s my original post on that story: http://bisonmedia.areavoices.com/2010/10/29/georgia-southern-is-out/
It only seems fitting that the Eagles now have to come to Fargo, the football gods say these two teams must play this season. Georgia Southern is good. This is not the team NDSU beat 34-14 back in 2006 in Statesboro, and some of their numbers are ridiculous.
Rushing Yards the past 4 games:
- vs Wofford: 290
- vs Alabama: 302 (scored 21 points, most Crimson Tide allowed all year)
- vs Old Dominion: 477 (Defensive coaching staff fired after game)
- vs Maine: 360
The old tried and true notion is if you want to beat NDSU you have to run the football. Georgia Southern hasn’t had a problem doing that all year.
I saw plenty of comments about TV coverage in our PostGame Video Blog yesterday, just wanted to clear a couple things up. The NDSU-Georgia Southern game will be shown on ESPN U Saturday at 1:30, which appromixately 46 million people get here in the U.S. and most importantly nearly everyone gets in the Fargo-Moorhead area, available on DirecTV, Dish Network, MidContinent and Cable One(with digital cable) NDSU specifically requested for the Saturday game to avoid any conflicts with graduation on Friday and to be honest, ESPN was going to chose Montana and Sam Houston State for name recognition and market size. Montana is a known quantity and after what ESPN saw Friday night with 25,000 in the stands and with Sam Houston being an hour from Houston, that’s what won out over Fargo, I’d say the average college fan would have a hard time locating where Georgia Southern is. To be honest, it’s better for tailgating and the amount of exposure NDSU will get will be huge, just think of other sports that have been on ESPN U recently, Men’s Basketball at Iowa State, Softball the last 2 years in the NCAA Tournament and Midnight Madness a couple years ago.
We have a big week planned, stories every night on WDAY 6 Sports and our new video blog will be up tomorrow!
It was a wild day and Jeff and I are here to recap it for you, joined by NDSU Quarterback Brock Jensen as NDSU defeats Lehigh 24-0 and gains a spot in the FCS Semifinals. Back with game date and time tomorrow for Georgia Southern.