By Myron Hosea
CSN So South Columnist
College Sporting News
The Bison turned three of Sam Houston State’s three interceptions into touchdowns and rolled to a 39-13 victory. With the win, North Dakota State becomes the first team since Appalachian State to successfully defend a title, having defeated the Bearkats in last year’s final.
North Dakota State turned an even game into a route by outscoring Sam Houston State 29-3 in the second half. Two of the Bison’s second-half touchdowns came after interceptions. The Bearkats threw four interceptions on the day.
Sam Houston State didn’t help itself on the penalty front, either. The Bearkats racked up 80 yards on seven infractions. In one key sequence in the second half, Tim Flanders (53 yards rushing on 19 carries) appeared to have given the Bearkats a lead on the first possession of the second half by sprinting for a long-distance touchdown. A holding penalty that appeared to have had little impact on the play negated the run, however, and North Dakota State’s Carlton Littlejohn picked off Brian Bell on the next play.
The Bison went in for a touchdown on the ensuing possession and never looked back in collecting another item for the university trophy case.
Saturday’s outcome in the championship game – the third in Frisco – maintained the geographic shift in the location of the FCS trophy. From 2003 through 2009, east coast teams won seven consecutive FCS championships. Specifically, four CAA teams (Delaware, James Madison, Richmond, and Villanova) and one SoCon team (Appalachian State) won those games.
Since the title game moved west of the Mississippi River, the three titles have been won by teams from west of the river (Eastern Washington and North Dakota State). I’m sure there’s no correlation, but it is an interesting factoid.
Now that the championship game is done, it’s time to start looking toward next year. Are there championship-caliber teams among the squads covered in this column – those of the Southern and Big South conferences? Time will tell. At this point, Georgia Southern seems the most likely to have a shot after reaching the semifinals three straight years. The Eagles will have more holes to fill than they have the past two seasons, but the other schools appear to be a bit too far away from challenging for a national title.