Frisco, TX (Sports Network) - There's quite different legacies at stake for
both North Dakota State and Sam Houston State on Saturday when they meet again
in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game.
NDSU, last year's national champion, is back with a chance to become the fifth
program to claim a title repeat, and the first since Appalachian State won
three titles in a row from 2005-07.
Considering the Bison start only four seniors, win or lose on Saturday,
there's a terrific chance coach Craig Bohl will have his team back in Frisco
yet again next year.
Dare we say the D-word - dynasty?
Of course, before anybody gets ahead of himself, it will take the Bison
winning two national titles for the current nucleus to be held up alongside
the great teams in FCS history.
Sam Houston State, on the other hand, will be happy to stand in the way and
win its first FCS title in what should be a terrific game.
The Bearkats are more of a loose group than NDSU's business-like approach, and
they have more seniors who play significant roles than what's on the Bison
roster, but they also hope their underclassmen can bring them back next year.
They just don't want the group's legacy to resemble the Buffalo Bills'.
"I do believe we're battle-tested, we had a very tough schedule," Sam Houston
coach Willie Fritz said Friday at the final NCAA press conference before
Saturday's title game.
"We knew that going into the year. I'm not into excuses and those kind of
different things, and our players are not, either. The guys just did a
tremendous job of delivering, playing hard each and every week.
"I really think these seniors, they've won a lot of ball games. A lot of these
guys are three- and four-year starters at Sam Houston. They're a very talented
group, a bunch of very good students in that group, a bunch of guys who are
very involved in the university."
"I would just say that this a second opportunity," senior center Chris Rogers
said, "especially to meet the same team twice, you're not going to get them
very often. A lot of us are very lucky to be in the situation that we're in.
We never get a chance to put pads on again after this day, so we're going to
leave it out there and see what happens."
Which also is what the North Dakota State players plan to do.
In Frisco, it feels like January 2012 all over again with the Bison faithful
making the pilgrimage to FC Dallas Stadium again and taking away any home-
field advantage that Sam Houston State seemingly should have just 200 miles
from its campus in Huntsville.
The top-ranked Bison come into the title game leading the FCS in scoring
defense and total defense in another dominant season. But the only numbers
that will matter to them on Saturday will be on the scoreboard.
"I don't know about legacy," NDSU junior linebacker Grant Olson said. "We've
still got a little bit of football to play. But I do know that the recruiting
class I came in with and then Garrett (Bruhn) and Marcus' (Williams)
recruiting class are a very close group of guys. Joe (Lund) along with the
older guys, when we first got here, were very demanding of us, and they pushed
us very hard, but through that we've grown a lot as men, and they were then
able to accept us, and that was something that allowed us to win the
championship last year.
"I think that's one of the reasons this team is so close and we've come as far
as we have. We're a very close group of men. We care a lot about each other,
we work hard for each other, and we play for each other."
Going back-to-back, Bohl added, "We talked about it a little bit before the
beginning of the year. As the older players got together in my office, we set
out some goals, and the first goal we set about was to win the Missouri Valley
Conference championship, and once we able to accomplish that, the other goal
we set about was to win the national championship.
"I think it is very difficult, I don't think, I know, it is very difficult to
go back-to-back. It's an unusual task. It's possible."
The Sports Network