PUTTING IT ON THE LINE: In a classic clash of FCS titans, second-seed Sam Houston State hosts perennial national champion North Dakota State in Huntsville
While some things remain the same, other circumstances will dramatically change when the second-seed Sam Houston State Bearkats host the perennial NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) national champion North Dakota State Bison at 2 p.m. Sunday in Huntsville’s Bowers Stadium.
Although these two teams are no strangers in the postseason, something will have to give in the national quarterfinal matchup. North Dakota State (7-2), winners of eight of the last nine FCS national titles, hits the road for a playoff game for the first time since 2010, while the Bearkats (7-0) enter the contest 14-0 in FCS postseason games played at Bowers Stadium.
With that said, these two teams have met four times in the FCS playoffs with the Bison winning all four — the first two to win the 2011 and 2012 national titles, the third in the 2015 semifinals, and the fourth in the 2017 semifinals. But the last time North Dakota State played in Huntsville, the Bison lost in 2009.
Despite the Bison domination in the past, the Bearkat defense enters the game looking much-improved on what run-oriented North Dakota State has seen in the past. While Sam Houston State allowed more than 200 rushing yards a game in 2017 and 2018, the Bearkats has allowed only 58.9 yards per game and 1.8 yards per carry this spring.
Ranked in the FCS top-three defensively, Sam Houston State will find out if it belongs there by taking on the Bison, who rushed for 422 yards last week against Eastern Washington. In a strength-on-strength matchup, North Dakota State averaged 227.1 rushing yards a game this spring, led by running trio of bruising Hunter Luepke, speedster Jalen Bussey, and true freshman Dominic Gonnella.
Producing a more balanced attack, the Bearkats will be led by quarterback Eric Schmid, who has thrown for 2,154 yards and 15 touchdowns in seven games this spring, while running for another 291 yards and five scores.
Other FCS quarterfinal playoff matchups, top-seed South Dakota State (6-1) hosts surprising Southern Illinois (6-3), third-seed James Madison (6-0) takes on North Dakota (5-1), and Delaware (6-0) hits the road to face fourth-seed Jacksonville State (10-2).
Throughout the unprecedented spring football season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus prognosticators will select NCAA FCS and Division III college football games featuring Texas teams.
This season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel consists of newcomer Don Nicholas, Field Representative for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (TX-25), while Meridian Yellowjacket football head coach Wade Morton, The Sports Buzz photographer David Harding and The Sports Buzz’ Brett Voss return from last year.
For the record, Gridiron Gurus’ friendly battle for bragging right during the “real” fall football season came down to the final game of the season, the Super Bowl. With both Wade and Brett amazingly tied after picking 245 games going into Super Bowl LV, Wade correctly picked Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to upset Brett’s choice and favorites, the Kansas City Chiefs. Congrats, Wade.
Join us every Thursday throughout the 2021 spring football season as THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick their winners for the unprecedented spring football games. Be sure to make your picks as well!
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