Photo credit: North Dakota State Athletics

North Dakota State wins back-to-back FCS national titles, now with seven titles in eight years

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North Dakota State (15-0) is polished off an undefeated season by claiming a second-straight national championship. The Bison topped Eastern Washington (12-3) in the FCS National Championship Game by a score of 38-24 in Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Saturday afternoon to clinch back-to-back national championship seasons. It is the seventh FCS national title won by the program in the past eight seasons.

The second half of the game got off to a wild start with both teams combining for three turnovers and three touchdowns in the first five minutes of the half. North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick tossed touchdown passes of 23 yards and 78 yards to Darrius Shepherd. Eastern Washington running back Sam McPherson took off for a 75-yard run up the middle for a touchdown as part of the flurry to the start of the second half.

But from that point on, North Dakota State managed to calm things down and keep things mostly under control the rest of the afternoon.

Taking over the football at their six-yard line early in the fourth quarter with a 31-17 lead, North Dakota State methodically marched their way down the field on a 19-play drive that traveled 88 yards and took 10:10 off the clock. Unfortunately, the drive ended with a missed field goal, but that was precious minutes that melted off the clock with a 14-point lead. But Eastern Washington took just four plays to move right down the field and score a touchdown with quarterback Eric Barriere capping the quick-moving drive with a five-yard touchdown run. North Dakota State recovered an onside kick, and Easton Stick put the game out of reach with a 46-yard touchdown run on 3rd and 7 with just over a minute to play.

North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman, who was recently hired to be the new head coach at Kansas State, will go out a winner. Klieman tied former Youngstown State head coach Jim Tressel with his fourth FCS national championship. No other FCS coach has as many national titles as Klieman or Tressel.

Stick completed 13 of 19 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 121 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Stick closed out his collegiate career as the winningest quarterback in FCS history with a record of 49-3.

Former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz was happy to see his Bison win, of course.

North Dakota State’s 21-game winning streak is the longest active winning streak among all Division 1 programs, regardless of what Alabama or Clemson do Monday night.

Florida State apologizes for MLK Day tweet

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As the old adage goes, the best-laid plans of mice and men’s Twitter accounts often go awry.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, Florida State’s official recruiting account on Twitter posted an inspirational quote from the slain Civil Rights leader. It would’ve been fine for all involved if the account would’ve stopped there; unfortunately for all involved, they didn’t stop there.

Instead, a photoshopped image of Dr. King wearing a football glove and apparently performing the Tomahawk Chop was included as part of the tweet.

Not surprisingly, the Twitter account caught significant heat and flack for the image on social media. Just as unsurprisingly, the tweet was deleted less than an hour after it was posted and an apology subsequently issued.

Rutgers hires Andy Buh to coordinate defense

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Rutgers has hired Andy Buh as its defensive coordinator, the program has announced.

“We are excited to add Andy to the Rutgers football family,” head coach Chris Ash said in a statement. “He is an outstanding linebackers coach and has extensive experience in the Big Ten. Andy and I share a defensive philosophy and he is very familiar with the scheme we run, which will benefit the continued development of our defense.”

Ash and Buh worked together previously at Wisconsin, where Ash was the defensive coordinator and Buh the linebackers coach. He spent the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Maryland and has previous coordinator experience at Stanford, Nevada and Cal.

Buh replaces Jay Niemann, who served as the Scarlet Knights’ defensive coordinator for the first three seasons of the Ash era. Rutgers was 69th in total and yards per play defense and 89th in scoring in 2018, surrendering 31.4 points per game. Buh’s Maryland defense placed 78th, allowing 28.7 points per outing.

Rutgers is 7-29 under Ash and 3-24 in Big Ten play.

North Texas inks home and homes with Baylor, Tulane

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North Texas celebrated MLK Day by announcing a slew of future football opponents.

The Mean Green announced Monday it will play home-and-homes with Baylor and Tulane in the 2028 and ’29 campaigns. North Texas will visit the Bears and Green Wave in 2028, then host both in 2029. UNT will visit Baylor on Sept. 2 and Tulane on Sept. 23 in 2028, while the Mean Green will host Baylor and Tulane in back-to-back weeks to open 2029, with the Bears coming on Sept. 1 and the Green Wave on Sept. 8.

A previously scheduled home game with Army was bumped from 2027 to 2028 in conjunction with Monday’s announcements. North Texas also announced a home game with Texas Southern for Sept. 24, 2022.

Baylor will be the fourth Power 5 program and the second Big 12 opponent to visit Apogee Stadium, which opened in 2011. Indiana visited in Apogee’s opening season, Cal will make a visit in 2022 and Texas Tech will come to Denton in 2027.

“I am thrilled to announce two quality home-and-home series have been added to our schedules,” Mean Green AD Wren Baker said in a statement. “Baylor joins Cal and Texas Tech as Power 5 conference teams coming to Denton over the next few years. Tulane is a quality American Athletic Conference team that will be a fun trip for our fans when we return to New Orleans. I appreciate (COO) Jared Mosley‘s diligent efforts to find compelling games for our fans.”

North Texas and Baylor have met 13 times previously. The Bears have won 12 of those meetings but North Texas took the most recent meeting in Denton, a 52-14 thumping in 2003. That remains UNT’s most recent win over a Big 12 opponent.

The Mean Green and Green Wave have played just once previously, a 21-14 Tulane victory in New Orleans in 2013.

Baylor has a previously scheduled trip to Oregon slated for 2028, a return trip for the Ducks’ flight to Waco in 2027. Tulane also has a home-and-home with Iowa State in 2028-29, with the home dates flipped from the UNT series.

Boise State to replace iconic blue turf (with more, newer blue turf)

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Boise State became a household name through playing on its trendsetting blue turf (and winning a lot), such that the school now owns a trademark for any non-green collegiate field.

The current blue playing surface is set to go away this spring, only to be replaced by a newer, bigger, bluer (probably) version.

“It’s needed,” Boise State AD Curt Apsey told the Idaho Statesman. “We’re not just doing it to do it. It’s near the end of the usual lifespan.”

The current playing surface was installed ahead of the 2010 season; FieldTurf surfaces usually have a lifespan of eight to 10 years.

“The field is shredding,” Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin told the paper last summer. “It’s just old. It needs to be replaced. It’s just time.”

Boise State has played on a blue surface since 1986, when then-AD Gene Blaymaier put in blue AstroTurf at a cost of $750,000. The school did not even join FBS until a decade later.

The new surface will extend beyond the playing field to cover the area that previously held the Broncos’ track. It is expected to cost between $600,000 and $1 million, but the school is approved to spend $600,000 as of now.