Stop me if you have heard this one before, but North Dakota State will begin the college football season as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Bison received 23 first-place votes to pace their path to the top spot in the inaugural AFCA preseason FCS coaches poll.
North Dakota State is coming off a sixth national title in the past seven years and has become accustomed to starting the year as the top team in the FCS. However, this is the first time the AFCA has organized its own coaches poll for the FCS, so this is a bit of a landmark milestone for the Bison. North Dakota State is followed by last year’s runner-up and the team that interrupted the national title streak, No. 2 James Madison. The Dukes received the remaining three first-place votes that did not go to North Dakota State.
North Dakota State was also the preseason No. 1 in the previously released STATS FCS preseason Top 25. The top six teams are the same in both polls. After that, there are slight differences in rankings between the two polls.
2018 AFCA FCS Coaches Preseason Poll
- North Dakota State (23)
- James Madison (3)
- South Dakota State
- Sam Houston State
- Kennesaw State
- Jacksonville State
- Eastern Washington
- Weber State
- New Hampshire
- Northern Iowa
- North Carolina A&T
- Central Arkansas
- Nicholls State
- McNeese State
- Illinois State
- Stony Brook
- Austin Peay
- Youngstown State
After coaching North Dakota State to a national championship last season, Chris Klieman has been given a contract extension.
The school announced the contract extension, which is now good through the 2023 season. The new extension tacks on two years to the existing contract for the head coach of the FCS juggernaut Bison.
“Chris has done an exceptional job in leading our football program on a national level,” North Dakota State director of athletics Matt Larsen said in a released statement. “Not only have we won three national championships during his tenure, but our student-athletes are achieving high marks in the classroom and are actively engaged on campus and in the Fargo-Moorhead community. I look forward to working with him and his staff for years to come.”
Klieman was named head coach at North Dakota State after former Bison head coach Craig Bohl was hired by Wyoming in 2014. In his short time as head coach, Klieman has continued to keep North Dakota State among the top FCS programs in the nation with three national titles (2014, 2015, 2017) and four consecutive Missouri Valley Football Conference championships. Prior to becoming the head coach of the program, Klieman was a defensive back coach and defensive coordinator under Bohl.
The defending FCS national champion North Dakota State Bison open their 2018 season at home against Cal Poly on September 1. North Dakota State will not play an FBS opponent this fall or in 2019, but will play at Oregon in 2020.
Last week the playoff field for Division 2 and Division 3 was set, and we are still two weeks away from learning what four teams will compete in the fourth College Football Playoff. Today it was the FCS playoff field that was unveiled for the first time. Not surprisingly, defending national champion James Madison, the top-ranked team in FCS, took the top spot in the 24-team field.
At 11-0, it was expected the Dukes would be the number one overall seed. The Colonial Athletic Association champions are in the FCS playoffs for a fourth-straight season. The number two seed is a familiar name to those following FCS football. North Dakota State (10-1) took the second overall seed in the playoff field. The five-time national champs remains a force to reckon with once again and will hope to get a shot at playoff revenge against James Madison in this year’s championship game. It was James Madison that eliminated the Bison from the postseason last year with a 27-17 upset in the semifinals.
JMU went on to top Bo Pelini and Youngstown State in the championship game after the unseeded Penguins went on a miraculous run to the championship game. Youngstown State had taken out the No. 3 seed Jacksonville State (40-24) and No. 2 seed Eastern Washington (40-38) before falling against the No. 4 seeded Dukes. Youngstown State did not reach the postseason this year.
Jacksonville State takes the three-seed, followed by Central Arkansas, South Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Wofford and Southern Utah. Other automatic entrants through conference championship automatic qualifiers include Kennesaw State, Central Connecticut State, Lehigh, and San Diego. At-large teams making the field include Northern Arizona, Weber State, Monmouth, Elon, New Hampshire, Stony Brook, South Dakota, Northern Iowa, Western Illinois, Furman, Samford, and Nicholls State.
You can view the full bracket HERE.
Just days after helping FCS power North Dakota State win its fifth straight national championship, with a victory over Jacksonville State, Bison quarterback Carson Wentz had the opportunity to discuss his rising NFL Draft stock with Dan Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show (simulcast on NBC Sports Network). Wentz was asked about his return from injury, his height and more by the veteran sports radio host.
“What the writers have to say, it is what it is. You try not to focus on that, everyone has a different angle, a different approach,” Wentz said. “What really matters is what the teams think of you, what the scouts and the ownership thinks of you. I’m not concerned with what writers have to say to be honest with you.”
Wentz said the best thing that’s been said about him is that he is a winner, which is always a nice character trait to have when looking to make a splash in the NFL. On the flip side, Wentz said he is no fan of the FCS bashing done by some. Asked if he feels he belongs in the conversation along with players like Jared Goff of Cal and Paxton Lynch of Memphis, Wentz said “I definitely believe in that group, no doubt about it.”
Wentz will get a chance to play with some of the top seniors in college football later this month at the Senior Bowl.
Not those defending national champions, although Ohio State comes to Eugene the following week.
Just weeks after adding Montana to the schedule in 2019, Oregon has now added four-time defending FCS national champion North Dakota State for 2020. Oregon will welcome the Bison to Autzen Stadium on September 5, 2020. As it turns out, Oregon hosts Ohio State the following week in the first half of a home-and-home between the two programs that just squared off in the College Football Playoff national championship game. Oregon’s non-conference schedule wraps up with a home game against Hawaii the following week before jumping into the Pac-12’s nine-game conference schedule.
Oregon has never lost to a school from the FCS ranks. The Ducks are 10-0 all-time against opponents from the next level down. North Dakota State is an impressive 8-3 all-time against teams from the FBS level. The Bison have won five straight match-ups against FBS opponents with wins over Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State, Kansas State and Iowa State. Since 2010, Oregon has won four games in the regular season against power conference opponents.
Oregon and North Dakota State have never played each other. The Ducks did play North Dakota back in 1931 to a scoreless tie.
The Pac-12 does not have a non-conference scheduling requirement to include an opponent from another power conference the way the ACC, SEC and now the Big Ten have in place. To Oregon’s credit though, the Ducks have at least one game per seaosn line dup against another power conference opponent in 2015 (at Michigan State), 2016 (Virginia, at Nebraska), 2017 (Nebraska), 2019 (Auburn in Arlington), 2020 (Ohio State) and 2021 (at Ohio State).