In this week’s edition on My Thoughts Exactly, Daniel “Pinto” Gunderson about what he expects from the Football Championship Subdivision national championship game between North Dakota State University and Sam Houston State University on Saturday, January 5 in Frisco, Texas.
In the last three weeks, following NDSU’s dramatic victory of Georgia Southern in the FCS semifinals on December 14, I have been asked no less than two dozen times what I think about the national championship game.
Every time, my answer is some sort of made up sound, followed by an “I don’t know.” And even four days away, I’m still trying to formulate some type of an idea. As I do with every game, I look at the positives and negatives.
So, while I have your attention, I might as well throw out the positives and negatives for the Bison in this upcoming game against the Bearkats.
1. Frisco, Texas is quickly becoming a second home for NDSU. Last year, the majority of the 20,586 fans in attendance were Bison fans. Even with the campus of SHSU in Huntsville, Texas only three hours away, Bison fans again will dominate the town of Frisco on Saturday.
2. NDSU has had three weeks to prepare for a Bearkats offense that is averaging 32.3 points per game during their playoff run. That is plenty of time for head coach Craig Bohl and defensive coordinator Chris Klieman to come up with a scheme to stop this high power offense.
3. Marcus Williams will get tested in the pass game. That may sound like a negative, but after being relatively non-existent the past two playoff games because neither Wofford nor Georgia Southern wanted to pass, Williams will have a major impact on SHSU’s ability to pass.
4. The Bearkats gives up an average of 241 yards passing per game. Brock Jensen has not been the same quarterback he was back in the beginning of the season. After three weeks of rest, Jensen should have put in enough work to fix anything mechanically wrong and cleared up any issues mentally.
5. Sam Houston State blitzes a lot. The blitz is a major part of what the Bearkats do defensively. However, if NDSU can pick it up, it leaves quite a few one-on-one matchups for NDSU wide outs. That could lead to big plays in the passing game.
1. Sam Houston State was embarrassed last year. Having that poor of a showing when the school is a day trip away has to put your fan base in its place. Also, with only four true home games this year, Bearkats fans will want an opportunity to see their team.
2. The Bearkats have only given up five sacks all season. While SHSU doesn’t pass too much, they still keep quarterback Brian Bell clean when they do. This is important considering Bell is only 175 pounds and looks like someone could break him in half.
3. Timothy Flanders is a dominate running back. Flanders can make defenses grasp for air or leave them wondering where he came from. At 5’9” he can hide behind his big offensive linemen. He is also averaging 146 yards per game in the playoffs although he has yet to score a touchdown.
4. SHSU blitzes a lot. They have 37 sacks on the year including 11 in the past two weeks. The Bearkats are facing a different type of offense than they have the last two weeks in Montana State and Eastern Washington but when NDSU does pass, it will be tough to keep Jensen upright.
5. NDSU is just getting by. If you look at the past two games for NDSU, you see that it hasn’t been easy. If things go a certain way, NDSU could be watching this game from their couches in Fargo. Something has to give eventually. It is just tough to get the breaks to go your way for another 60 minutes.
Knowing how I feel about both the positive and negative, I don’t see NDSU winning this game. They’ve been living on the edge for the last two weeks, Jensen has not been where he needs to be as a quarterback passing wise and the lack of offensive explosion they possess lead me to believe it won’t be a victory for NDSU.
You also have to add in the fact that SHSU is on a mission. They’ve wanted this game since August and they have their wish. The Bearkat fans will be out this year and I expect that they will make it a hostile environment.
If that is the case, I really hope the Vikings pull out a victory later Saturday night. If they don’t, Frisco is going to have some mad Bison and Viking fans on their hands. Just don’t run out of booze.
Final Note: I have started a new blog and will be posting on it regularly throughout the week. Reason behind this is because I have plenty of other things I want to write about that I don’t get to in this weekly column.
I would post them on Facebook, but I find this to be kind of annoying. With Twitter, 140 characters just don’t cut it. Here is the link for that blog: pintokfgo.blogspot.com/
Check it daily. I’ll be using it heavily on my way down to Frisco, Texas this weekend for the big National Championship game on Saturday.
Daniel “Pinto” Gunderson is the producer of the Mike McFeely Show, which is heard every weekday on 790 KFGO from 2-5 p.m. You can follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @pintoKFGO.