By Sam Partridge
The CAA Today Columnist
College Sporting News
For the last five seasons, four different CAA teams have played for a title as the conference established itself one of the the deepest and most successful leagues at this top level.
So, while the rest of the FCS universe may revel in the lack of a CAA presence, we must take a look at what it means for the league itself.
Was this just a one-year hiccup or has the league taken a step back overall?
While there were clearly several good and worthy playoff teams this year, it was evident from early in the season, that there was not a team with the complete package necessary to make a run at a championship.
Mainly, the weaknesses were on defense, but the league historically known for shootouts did not have the depth at quarterback that we are used to seeing... but... ultimately, it spelled a disappointing CAA season.
However it will still be fun to watch a team win an FCS championship for the first time tomorrow night.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEW
With apologies to the BCS, maybe some years it's the right way to go. Here we are with the #1 and #2 seeds playing each other for the championship.
Maybe we should have skipped the four weeks of games with all the travel and needless exertion on behalf of student athletes?
All that money spent to get to FCS outposts like Bozeman, Richmond (KY), Boone, etc. could have been better used for more productive educational purposes.
Heck, there weren't really any upsets anyway, so why do we think the playoffs are so great?
I'm kidding of course because we all recognize the value of settling things on the field, even when the results are not surprising and North Dakota State and Sam Houston State have clearly shown themselves to be the class of the FCS playoff field.
The Bison have been relentless and have simply battered teams into submission, most impressively when they ground the vaunted Georgia Southern offense into the Fargo Dome turf in the semifinals.
Sam Houston State struggled to get their postseason feet under them against Stony Brook but have have gotten progressively better from there as they pounded Montana State and dominated Montana before allowing a late rally that made things look closer than they were.
Both teams are new to the rarefied air of a championship game, but so was Eastern Washington last year, and anyway, someone has to win the title.
The Bearkats clearly have the geographical advantage and expect to bring a healthy crowd to this game, but I'm sure that there will be plenty of folks making the trip from Fargo to see if the Bison can win their first title at the FCS level.
It's pretty clear what the matchups will be on Saturday afternoon.
The Bison will roll out Brock Jensen and their two-headed monster plus running back while the Bearkats will counter with a whole lot of Tim Flanders and Richard Sincere.
The Southland conference hasn't had a shot at a title since McNeese State lost in 2002 and 1997 and hasn't won one since Northeast Louisiana in 1987, but the Bearkats will be looking to ride some home cooking to a title in Frisco.
Honestly, neither one of these teams has been out of their comfort zones in the playoffs so far.
Both won three games at home and it's been three weeks since they've seen the field so it's anyone's guess how they come out ready to play.
However, North Dakota State won a more difficult conference and navigated a more difficult road through the playoffs.
They beat a grinding team in James Madison, an explosive passing team in Lehigh and a dynamic option team in Georgia Southern.
The tenacity and toughness they've displayed against disparate styles evokes a team that has the maturity and adaptability to win a championship.
It's not officially a road game, but the Bison head down to Texas and come away with their first FCS title.
Bison 27, Bearkats 24