Defense played a critical role in North Dakota State winning a sixth championship in seven seasons with a 17-13 victory against James Madison on Saturday, Jan. 6, for the NCAA Division I FCS championship.
The Bison (14-1) held the previously undefeated Dukes (14-1) to a season low in points and total yards as James Madison finished with 241. In the four playoff games, NDSU held opponents to an average of 9.8 points and 236.3 yards per game.
The Bison held all four opponents to season lows in points and total yards in a game.
So where does this defensive playoff dominance rank with the previous five championship runs? Let’s take a look.
- In 2011, the Bison held teams to 6.8 points and 300 yards per game in four playoff games, including a 17-6 victory against Sam Houston State in the FCS title game.
- In 2012, NDSU limited opponents to 10.8 points and 341 yards a contest in four playoff games, including a 39-13 victory against Sam Houston State in the championship game.
- In 2013, the Bison held opponents to 10.5 points and 291.3 yards per game in four playoff games, earning a 35-7 victory against Towson in the title game.
- In 2014, NDSU allowed 21.5 points and 355 yards per game in four playoff games, with a 29-27 victory against Illinois State in the championship game.
- In 2015, the Bison held opponents to 9.0 points and 217.3 yards per game in four playoff games, including in a 37-10 victory against Jacksonville State for a fifth consecutive FCS crown.
Here is how each playoff run ranks in each category.
Points per game
- 2011 at 6.8
- 2015 at 9.0
- 2017 at 9.8
- 2013 at 10.5
- 2012 at 10.8
- 2014 at 21.5
Yards per game
- 2015 at 217.3 yards per game.
- 2017 at 236.3 yards per game.
- 2013 at 291.3 yards per game.
- 2011 at 300 yards per game.
- 2012 at 341 yards per game.
- 2014 at 355 yards per game.
Below is the year-by-year breakdown of the six championship playoff runs:
- James Madison: 26-14 victory with 301 yards allowed.
- Lehigh: 24-0 victory with 356 yards allowed.
- Georgia Southern: 35-7 victory with 333 yards allowed.
- Sam Houston State: 17-6 victory with 210 yards allowed.
- South Dakota State: 28-3 victory with 217 yards allowed.
- Wofford: 14-7 victory with 326 yards allowed.
- Georgia Southern: 23-20 victory with 430 yards allowed.
- Sam Houston State: 39-13 victory with 391 yards allowed.
- Furman: 38-7 victory with 327 yards allowed.
- Coastal Carolina: 48-14 victory with 281 yards allowed.
- New Hampshire: 52-14 victory with 184 yards allowed.
- Towson: 35-7 victory with 373 yards allowed.
- South Dakota State: 27-24 victory with 275 yards allowed.
- Coastal Carolina: 39-32 victory with 383 yards allowed.
- Sam Houston State: 35-3 victory with 338 yards allowed.
- Illinois State: 29-27 victory with 424 yards allowed.
- Montana: 37-6 victory with 235 yards allowed.
- Northern Iowa: 23-13 victory with 221 yards allowed.
- Richmond: 33-7 victory with 209 yards allowed.
- Jacksonville State: 37-10 victory with 204 yards allowed.
- San Diego: 38-3 victory with 174 yards allowed.
- Wofford: 42-10 victory with 177 yards allowed.
- Sam Houston State: 55-13 victory with 352 yards allowed.
- James Madison: 17-13 victory with 241 yards allowed.