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Football

North Dakota State Bison Set Up Another Meeting with Montana State Bobcats in FCS Playoffs

NDSU (9-3) demolished Drake 66-3 Saturday afternoon in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs

By Victor Flores, 406mtsports.com
Montana State’s Daniel Hardy (44) tries to get past North Dakota State’s Cordell Volson during the FCS championship game on Jan. 8, 2022, in Frisco, Texas. Rachel Leathe of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle

BOZEMAN – North Dakota State has been a familiar foe for the Montana State football team in recent years. But the next meeting between NDSU and MSU will look significantly different than the previous three.

NDSU (9-3) demolished Drake 66-3 Saturday afternoon in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The win sent the Bison to the second round, where they will face sixth-seeded MSU next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Bobcat Stadium. It will be the first meeting between NDSU and MSU since the 2021 FCS title game, which NDSU won.

The Bison ended MSU’s previous two seasons as well, rolling to a 42-14 victory in the 2019 FCS semifinals and a 52-10 rout in the 2018 second round. Both of those games were played in Fargo, North Dakota.

The last time the Bobcats and Bison met in Bozeman was Dec. 4, 2010, also in the second round of the FCS playoffs. NDSU won 42-17 that day, scoring four TDs in the fourth quarter. Current MSU head coach Brent Vigen was NDSU’s offensive coordinator and Craig Bohl was head coach back then (Vigen went on the be Bohl’s OC at Wyoming from 2014-20). 

The Bison were the No. 1 seed in both the 2018 and 2019 playoffs, and they were No. 2 in 2021. Their 38-10 win over MSU on Jan. 8, 2022, in Frisco, Texas, gave them their fourth FCS title in five seasons and ninth in 11. 

NDSU didn’t receive a seed this year after suffering three losses, all to Dakota teams: 24-19 to South Dakota, 49-24 at North Dakota and 33-16 at South Dakota State. SDSU is the No. 1 seed and South Dakota is No. 3 in the 2023 FCS playoffs. Unseeded North Dakota lost to Sacramento State of the Big Sky Conference 42-35 on Saturday.

NDSU has two ranked wins this season, both in the final two weeks of the regular season: 34-10 over then-No. 11 (now-No. 14) Southern Illinois and 48-27 at then-No. 22 (now-unranked) Northern Iowa. The Bison are ranked No. 8 in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25, three spots behind MSU.

The Bison and Bobcats have one common opponent this season: Eastern Washington. NDSU beat the Eagles 35-10 in the season opener, and MSU blew them out 57-14 two weeks ago.

Saturday’s 66-3 win was NDSU’s largest since 2021, when it beat Valparaiso 64-0 in Week 2. The Bison out-gained Drake, the champion of the scholarship-less Pioneer Football League, 547-199 in total yards Saturday at the Fargodome, including 318-83 on the ground. NDSU forced five turnovers and committed two. Cam Miller, who quarterbacked the 2021 Bison, completed 10 of 11 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran for 62 yards on seven carries.

This story originally appeared at 406 MT SPORTS, which can be found online at 406mtsports.com.

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