The FCS Championship Game is now set after James Madison thrashed South Dakota State Saturday evening as the Dukes will play North Dakota State on January 6th in Frisco.
Ever since JMU finished off Youngstown State last January, fans of this division were hoping these schools would meet again, but not until the title game and now it comes to fruition.
James Madison has been impressive in every way, shape and form this season. They have won 26 straight games, their last loss came on September 17th, 2016 to North Carolina. Mike Houston has not lost a game to an FCS team since arriving in Harrisonburg and has brought a tough, physical, defensive mindset to JMU. Mike McFeely wrote about the title window opening for the Dukes last winter.
These two teams were the top two teams in the preseason poll and for the first ten weeks of the season, JMU and NDSU were 1-2 in the polls. Thankfully, the playoff committee seeded things correctly so this was the matchup that could happen in Frisco.
After the JMU win last season, Dukes quarterback Bryan Schor said he had “dreamed of taking his team to Fargo and beating the Bison.” Schor has had another great season at quarterback and now will play his final collegiate game looking for a second straight title.
NDSU knows full well what the Dukes have dealt with off the field this season in terms of expectations. JMU has heard about repeating and playing with a long win streak, and the distractions of College Gameday. The Dukes have won with all of that going on.
The Bison return to Frisco knowing this was the team they wanted to see all along. Yes, they had lost to the Jacks, but I think deep down for the players returning, this was the game all along. James Madison came to the Fargodome and physically beat the Bison at their own game. And for many NDSU players, I think they believe they didn’t play their best game that night. Now there’s a chance to prove it on the biggest stage in the division.
This game also will serve as either a passing of the mantle or re-affirming of a dynasty. Either James Madison will fully take hold of being the “it” team in FCS or NDSU will re-claim its spot on top of the FCS mountain.
The title game will be a departure of what we’ve seen in recent years in Texas. Many times it’s been a top seed or high seed against a red hot team. Sam Houston State, Towson and Illinois State all got hot in the playoffs to reach the title game. This is just the second time in seven years that the game will be between the top two seeds. This by far, is the top two teams playing. And we can’t wait for it.