FARGO — North Dakota State’s victory against James Madison for the Division I FCS championship was historic on multiple fronts.
The Bison became the first college football team to go 16-0 since the 1894 Yale Bulldogs. NDSU also became the sixth FCS team to go undefeated and win a national championship. The Bison have done it three times in 2013, 2018 and 2019 going 15-0 in both 2013 and 2018. Eastern Kentucky (1982), Georgia Southern (1989) and Marshall (1996) are the other three programs with undefeated FCS national title seasons.
NDSU is also the first FCS program with back-to-back undefeated national title seasons. Below is a comparison of NDSU’s three undefeated Football Championship Subdivision teams.
(NOTE: Bison football Special Commemorative Section is coming in print to Sunday's Forum newspaper. Below is a sneak peek at the cover for the section filled with Forum photographer David Samson's photos)
Brock Jensen (2013), Easton Stick (2018), Trey Lance (2019)
Jensen and Stick were similar in that they were both seniors who finished their careers with the most quarterback wins in FCS history. Stick broke Jensen’s record for QB wins.
Lance was different in that it was his first season as a starter, but he won the Walter Payton Award and Jerry Rice Award. He was the first freshman and Bison player to win the Payton, awarded to the top offensive player in the FCS.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Jensen completed 218 of 329 passes (66%) for 2,793 yards and 34 touchdowns with seven interceptions in 15 games. He also rushed for 479 yards and 10 scores.
The 6-foot-2, 221-pound Stick completed 171 of 281 passes (62%) for 2,752 yards and 28 touchdowns with seven interceptions in 15 games. He rushed for 677 yards and 17 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-3, 221-pound Lance completed 192 of 287 passes (67%) for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns with no interceptions in 16 games. He also rushed for a team-high 1,110 yards with 14 scores.
Jensen finished with a combined 44 touchdowns, Stick had 45 and Lance had 42.
Jensen had 48 career wins, while Stick had 49. Lance has 16 wins through his first season as a starter.
Craig Bohl (2013), Chris Klieman (2018), Matt Entz (2019)
Bohl and Klieman were similar in that both accepted head coaching jobs at Football Bowl Subdivision schools before they finished out the playoffs. Bohl headed to Wyoming after the 2013 season, while Klieman went to Kansas State after the 2018 season.
Entz was in his first year as head coach. Klieman was the defensive coordinator for Bohl before he took over as Bison head coach. Entz was the defensive coordinator for Klieman before he took charge of the team as NDSU's head coach.
By the numbers
The numbers are very similar between all three seasons in multiple team statistical categories. Below is a sampling:
The 2013 team averaged 38.7 points per game, while allowing 11.3. In 2018, the Bison averaged 41.5 per game, while giving up 12.6. In 2019, NDSU scored 37.2 points per game, while allowing 12.3.
The 2013 team averaged 457.5 yards per game, while allowing 255.9. In 2018, the Bison averaged 471.7 yards per game, while giving up 289.3 In 2019, NDSU averaged 469.5 yards per contest, while allowing 274.7.
The 2013 team scored 79 touchdowns and allowed 20. In 2018, the Bison scored 85 touchdowns and allowed 24. In 2019, NDSU scored 80 touchdowns and allowed 21.
The 2013 team scored touchdowns on 77% (50 of 65) of its red-zone visits (inside the 20-yard line). In 2018, the Bison scored touchdowns on 78% (49 of 63) of their red-zone opportunities. In 2019, NDSU scored touchdowns on 67% (43 of 64) of its red-zone chances.
The 2013 team had two 1,000-yard rushers in Sam Ojuri (1,398) and John Crockett (1,277), while the 2018 team didn’t have a rusher reach that milestone. Bruce Anderson finished with 924 yards in 2018, playing in 13 games. Lance was the team’s only 1,000-yard rusher in 2019 with 1,100.
The 2013 team rushed for 257.3 yards per game, while allowing 91.3. In 2018, the Bison rushed for 286.2 yards a game, while giving up 114.5. In 2019, NDSU rushed for 287.6 yards per game, while allowing 136.1.
The 2013 team is hard to match when it comes to top-end talent. Starting offensive tackles Billy Turner and Joe Haeg are both in the NFL, while backup quarterback Carson Wentz was the No. 2 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. Starting defensive end Kyle Emanuel and starting cornerbacks Marcus Williams and CJ Smith all played in the NFL. Running back John Crockett played in both the NFL and Canadian Football League. The 2013 team can also boast a victory against an FBS team with a win at Kansas State. The 2018 and 2019 teams didn't play an FBS opponent.
Jensen, wide receiver Ryan Smith and Ojuri all played in the CFL.
The 2018 and 2019 teams had player overlap, but the 2018 squad featured 24 seniors. That class included Stick, running backs Anderson and Lance Dunn, wide receiver Darrius Shepherd, center Tanner Volson, defensive end Greg Menard and safety Robbie Grimsley.
Stick was a fifth-round NFL Draft pick of the Los Angeles Chargers, Shepherd made the Green Bay Packers roster, Anderson recently signed with the Indianapolis Colts practice squad and Volson was a reserve/future signing with the New York Giants.
From the 2019 team, senior tight end Ben Ellefson, senior defensive end Derrek Tuszka and senior offensive lineman Zack Johnson are all playing in college all-star games. Junior linebacker Jabril Cox, junior offensive tackle Dillon Radunz and Lance are among the team’s underclassmen with future pro potential.