Eli Jenkins

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North Dakota State cruises to unprecedented fifth straight FCS national title

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The drive for five — and into the pages of history — is now complete.

North Dakota State waxed top-seeded Jacksonville State 37-10 Saturday afternoon in Frisco, Texas, clinching the Bison’s fifth straight FCS national championship. With the win, North Dakota State became the first college football team in history — regardless of classification — to claim five consecutive national crowns.

As always, the Bison won the title on the back of their unforgiving defense. North Dakota State held Jacksonville State — which came into the game ranked third in FCS in rushing, sixth in scoring and riding a 13-game winning streak since losing an overtime heartbreaker at Auburn back in September — to just 147 rushing yards and 204 total yards. Quarterback Eli Jenkins led the club with 15 carries for 88 yards and a six-yard touchdown scamper, but hit only 7-of-20 passes for 57 yards with two interceptions. The Gamecocks achieved only nine first downs on the day while converting only three of their 12 third-down tries.

Quarterback Carson Wentz was the catalyst for the Bison offense, connecting on 16-of-29 passes for 197 yards with a touchdown (and two interceptions) while rushing nine times for a game-high 79 yards and two more scores. King Frazier added 22 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown.

This game played out similarly to North Dakota State’s four previous championship triumphs: close for a while, then a total blowout. The Bison led just 3-0 after one quarter, then scored three touchdowns over a six-minute span in the second quarter to take a 24-0 edge to the break. Jacksonville State cut some distance between the clubs with Jenkins’ touchdown run and a Connor Rouleau field goal in the third quarter, but two Cam Pederson field goals and a one-yard Wentz plunge provided the final score.

The win allows North Dakota State to close a five-year run in which it went 71-5, amazingly experiencing as many national titles as losses.

The results of those title wins may be the most impressive stat of all:

  • 17-6 over Sam Houston State in 2011
  • 39-13 over Sam Houston State in 2012
  • 35-7 over Towson in 2013
  • 29-27 over Illinois State in 2014
  • 37-10 over Jacksonville State in 2015

Scratch that. The most impressive nugget in the Bison’s historic run? This: