Just about every line in existence has second-seeded North Dakota State (13-1), which lost at South Dakota State 33-21 on November 4, as the favorite in Saturday's FCS championship game against JMU (14-0) at Toyota Stadium. Returning for the 6th time in the last seven years, there's still even some green and gold faithful that are making the trip down to the big game for the very first time. "The fan base has spoken loudly and the adminstration is pleased with the amount of exposure and the enthusiasm of the playoff runs the last two years", he said.
"I think it's a situation where we have the two best teams in the country matched up", said James Madison coach Mike Houston.
"When I think about it, yeah, it probably did. There is starting to become a little bit of a rivalry between the two schools".
Last season, the Dukes went to the Fargodome in Fargo, North Dakota, and took down the Bison - a feat not often accomplished by road teams. They own the No. 2 scoring defense in the FCS, and are No. 1 in yards allowed per game. The NDSU junior is a defensive tackle on the Bison squad that has only given up 11.5 points per game this season.
Stick went 8-0 during the 2015 season after replacing Bison star Carson Wentz, the injured Philadelphia Eagles quarterback. Stick had the second-best quarterback rating of any FCS quarterback this season (173.7).
Madison's ability to generate explosive plays, with quarterback Bryan Schor as the catalyst as passer, scrambler and runner, could be the Dukes' advantage.
From Thursday's practice, Jalen Allison, Jaylaan Wimbush and Lance Dunn were on the practice field in pads for North Dakota State.
Will revenge play a factor in Saturday's game?
"We just watch the film and decide what we liked, what we didn't like and move on", Klieman said. He said the difference in his sales from 2017 to 2016 was "the Bison week", or lack thereof. Their opponent is top-seeded, defending champion James Madison. What you did yesterday means nothing.
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