2017 NCAA Division I Football Championship Notes

by BoCarter | Posted on Sunday, January 7th, 2018


40th Annual 2017 NCAA Division I Championship – Jan. 6, 2018 – Frisco, Texas

Final Score: North Dakota State 17, James Madison 13

General Notes

This game matches the two schools who have won the last six NCAA Division I football championships from 2011-16 – all at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. James Madison has captured DI football crowns in 2004 and ‘17 while the Bison won a record five consecutive DI trophies from 2011-15. NDSU also won five NCAA Division II titles from 1983-90 when the DII championship was located at McAllen, Texas (1981-85), and music-famous Florence, Ala. (1986-2013). The latter was the longest continuous location for a NCAA title contest besides Omaha, Neb., which has hosted the NCAA DI Men’s College World Series since 1950 (69th MCWS set for June 16-27/28, 2018).

Georgia Southern (six titles, 6-2 record in championship game) and North Dakota State (six, 6-0 mark) now are tied for the most DI football crowns in the 40-year history. Youngstown State (four, 4-3) is in third place while James Madison is now 2-1 and is tied with Eastern Kentucky, Marshall and Montana in fifth place with a pair of NCAA DI grid championships. Something had to give today as NDSU (5-0) and JMU (2-0) never had lost a championship appearance in their storied histories prior to Jan. 6.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference notched five consecutive DI crowns from 2011-15 as represented by North Dakota State and now has taken six of the last seven championships after NDSU’s win today. JMU (CAA) and NDSU (MVFC) are meeting for the first time in the title game, and actually MVFC members now have appeared in seven consecutive football championships. Youngstown State of the MVFC fell to JMU 28-14 last year. The CAA’s two most recent winners have been James Madison during the 2016 season and Villanova in 2009. The last non-CAA or MVFC member to take the championship was Eastern Washington of the Big Sky Conference in 2010.


The Missouri Valley Football Conference now is 18-13 all-time against CAA teams in the DI playoffs. That is the most-played interconference rivalry besides the MVFC and Big Sky Conference where the Valley has a 18-14 lead over 32 games since 1985. The Southern (107 wins), CAA (104) and MVFC (97) are the three “winningest” conferences in NCAA DI postseason activity. The CAA now is 104-97 all-time in NCAA activity while the Valley is 98-67 after today’s NDSU triumph.


2017 NCAA DI overall championship attendance is now a NCAA record 285,746 (with 19,090 as today’s attendance).The January 2016 NDSU-Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley Conference affiliate) clash set a Toyota Stadium DI championship record at 21,836. The post-2015 championship tournament also had a previous all-time-best attendance of 258,066 ahead of the third-highest total of 256,384 in 2011. The NCAA Division I championship game record remains 32,106 for in 1995 for Montana’s 22-20 win over Marshall in Huntington, W.Va. Toyota Stadium is undergoing extensive south end zone renovations and has slightly reduced capacity with full seating of 20,000-plus and the new International Soccer Hall of Fame almost ready for the 2018 season.

Toyota Stadium also hosted its first NCAA FBS and bowl contest on Dec. 20, 2017, as Louisiana Tech downed SMU 51-10 in the inaugural Frisco Bowl.

The three closest DI title game outcomes in the last seven DI trophy games have been Eastern Washington over Delaware 20-19 in 2010, the 2015 game’s 29-27 NDSU victory over fellow MVFC rival Illinois State and a 23-21 win by Villanova over Montana in 2009. The only shutout in DI annals (40 games) remains as Delaware’s 40-0 blanking of Colgate at Chattanooga, Tenn., in 2003. Last year’s championship ended with a 14-point win for James Madison over Youngstown State.

This is the third meeting of the 2017 championship schools in football, and the series is tied 1-1. JMU eliminated NDSU 27-17 at Fargo, N.D., in the 2016 semifinals for the Bison’s first loss in postseason play since 2010. In 2011 NDSU topped the Dukes 26-14 in the semis to advance to its second NCAA football crown in January 2012 at Frisco.

After dual matchups between NDSU and Sam Houston State in 2011 and ’12, this is the fifth year in a row where there was no championship rematch and a first skirmish between teams with a combined 7-0 mark in the DI title matchup. Eastern Washington downed Delaware 20-19 in the 2010 championship – the first of 11 DI trophy games set for Frisco from ’10 through the 2020 season by crrent contracts.

NDSU was the 21st different school to win a NCAA Division I National Championship over 40 seasons since NCAA Division play began in 1978 with Florida A&M downing Massachusetts 35-28 in 1978 at Wichita Falls, Texas, Memorial Stadium. In 2016 James Madison became the first non-MVFC squad to take the crown was Eastern Washington (Big Sky) in ’10. The all-time winning teams represent eight different conferences – Atlantic 10, Big Sky, CAA (James Madison), Mid-Eastern Athletic, Missouri Valley Football (North Dakota State), Ohio Valley, Southern, Southland – and Division I independents. UMass played the 2016 and ‘17seasons as a NCAA FBS independent and previously had been in the Mid-American Conference.


NDSU (2011-15) was the seventh different current MVFC team since 1985 to take the crown since Youngstown State with the MVFC in 1997 (and as a FCS independent in 1991) and Western Kentucky (then a member of the Gateway Conference in 2002 and champion) before NDSU began its five-game run. Besides JMU in 2004 and ‘16, Richmond in 2008 and Villanova in ’09 have been titlists from the CAA.


There were seven different schools as champions (Eastern Kentucky won in 1979 and ’82) over eight years in DI from 1978-85 before Georgia Southern repeated in 1985 and ’86. Since 2005 (last 13 seasons) six different schools have captured the crown – Appalachian State in 2005-07, Richmond in ’08, Villanova in ’09, Eastern Washington in 2010, ND State from 2011-2015/17, and JMU in 2016.


This was James Madison’s second trip to the championship in succession under head coach Mike Houston (28-2 overall at JMU over two seasons, 71-21 in seven years as a college head coach) while North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman is 53-6 over four seasons with the Bison. They now have four combined DI crowns (Houston in 2016 and Klieman in 2014-15, 17) between them. Houston became the 19th NCAA DI coach to capture the trophy in his first season at a title game school after Klieman accomplished the feat in 2014.


The Bison have won 26 NCAA team championships – 13 in NCAA DI or DII football – and DII trophies in women’s basketball (five) and wrestling (four), and one each in men’s cross country, softball and women’s indoor track and field. The Dukes have captured three NCAA team crowns – field hockey in 1994 and football in 2004 and 2016.


This is the 11th DI football championship contest within Texas, and previous winners have been Florida A&M (1978), Idaho State (1981) and Eastern Kentucky – all at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls – and Eastern Washington (2010), North Dakota State in 2011-15, 17, and James Madison (2016) in Frisco.


There never has been an overtime contest in the 40-season history of Division I football championships.


The 2017 Most Outstanding Player award has been presented to Easton Stick, the NDSU quarterback with 13-of-22 passing for 130 yards and one decisive TD toss while rushing 14 times for 35 yards. Easton played at football-notable Creighton Prep in Omaha, Neb.


The Most Outstanding Player in both the 2014 and ’15 title games is a familiar name in college and National Football League circles (though he will miss the post-2017 playoffs with a knee injury) – Carson Wentz of NDSU.


Four teams – Richmond in 2008, Villanova in 2009, Eastern Washington in 2010, and North Dakota State in 2011 – all were first-time victors in the Division I tournament during the last 10 seasons. No team has made its first appearance and captured the title since Florida A&M in 1978. First-year participants in the 2017 tourney were Kennesaw State and Monmouth (Big South Conference), Central Connecticut State (Northeast), and South Dakota (MVFC). The longest streaks of consecutive DI football tourney appearances are New Hampshire 14, North Dakota State 8, Sam Houston State 7, South Dakota State 6, Jacksonville State 5, and James Madison 4.


James Madison is now 16-12 all-time in NCAA DI tournament activity while North Dakota State is The Bison are 29-2 (.936) in NCAA Division I football playoff history, completed their eighth year of FCS appearances in ’17 and have an all-time postseason football mark of 63-15 on all levels of activity. ND State also is 58-14 (.800) in the NCAA playoffs (DI-IAA-II) since the system first was changed in 1973 and later to NCAA Division I-AA in 1978.


From IFRA research, teams playing in at least three consecutive NCAA DI championship games have been: North Dakota State 5 (5-0), Youngstown State 4 (3-1), Eastern Kentucky 4 (2-2), Appalachian State 3 (3-0), Georgia Southern 3 (2-1), and Marshall 3 (1-2).


Key wins by NCAA Division I squads over NCAA FBS opponents in 2017 were:

Aug. 31: Tennessee State 17, Georgia State 10

Sept. 2: No. 1 James Madison 34, East Carolina 14

Liberty 48, Baylor 45

Howard 43, UNLV 40

Sept. 9: No. 12 New Hampshire 22, Georgia Southern 12

South Dakota 35, Bowling Green 27

Sept. 16: No. 25 North Carolina A&T 35, Charlotte 31

Idaho State 30, Nevada 28

Sept. 23: No. 19 Western Illinois 52, Coastal Carolina 10


NDSU entered the game second in NCAA FCS team stats with a 40.3 scoring average (564 points) while JMU was No. 8 at 36.9 (503 points). Both schools already have joined the elite 500-point season scoring fraternity in NCAA FCS in 2017 and are the 50th and 51st FCS members (along with 2017 squads 52nd Sam Houston State with 606 points and 53rd team South Dakota State with 521 points) to enter the exclusive IFRA 500-point-season club. South Dakota just missed the mark by four points with 496 points in 13 clashes.


No team with two or more losses has won the DI championship since 12-3 Richmond captured all the marbles in 2003.


Today’s halftime score – 17-6 – was the same as a the final tally when NDSU edged Sam Houston State of the Southland Conference 17-6 for the Bison’s first DI football championship during the 2011 season.


The eighth NCAA Division I Football championship in Frisco, Texas, has been a boon to the area economy with an estimated game week tourism boost of between $8-9 million. Several North Dakota State fans still plan on attending this week after observing the DFW Metroplex hospitality for the last five years.

The school also has a familiar hand signal in this area of North Texas. True story: North Dakota State fans once finished off all beverages at a sports establishment at the Stonebriar Marriott one evening before one of the recent championships, and management had to go to area stores on emergency runs to replenish the stock. NDSU Bison fans have been great contributors to the area economy in recent years.


James Madison Quick Notes


Dukes head coach Mike Houston got off the best start of any first-year coach in JMU history at 14-1 in 2016 and is 28-2 for the top opening two-year mark by a head coach. He is a two-time CAA Coach of the Year.


JMU was 4-0 in the DI playoffs in 2016 and its 2004 national championship run as well. The Dukes are now a combined 11-1 in the three seasons they have made it to the title tussle.


James Madison has tied its 2017 school record for victories this season with 14 with the 2016 squad.


The 14-1 Dukes just missed joining 13-0 UCF, DIII Mt. Union (15-0) and NAIA St. Francis (Ind.) (14-0) as the only undefeated teams out of 774 four-year college football squads in 2017.


The Dukes are 308-211-4 (.593) over 523 games and 46 seasons with seven head coaches from 1974-2017. The school also owns six all-time conference trophies in the Virginia Collegiate Athletic Association, Atlantic 10 (two) and CAA (four, including three in succession from 2015-17).


JMU’s “winningest” head coach is Mickey Matthews from 1999–2013 with a 109-71-0 mark (.606 winning percentage) over a school-high 15 seasons. Matthews also led the Dukes to four of their seven all-time conference championships during that span and now serves as defensive coordinator at Coastal Carolina of the Sun Belt Conference.


James Madison is among the leaders in several NCAA FCS team categories – notably No. 1 in scoring defense, No. 8 in scoring offense at 36.9 points per game, No. 3 in defensive touchdowns with five, No. 29 in 3rd down conversion success, No. 6 in rushing defense at 87.6 yards per game, and No. 3 in total defense with a 251.1 yards yielded.


The Dukes entered the game No. 1 nationally in FCS Top 25 surveys as opposed to No. 4 Youngstown. One of the two competing championship teams have been ranked No. 3 or higher in six of the last eight title tilts. JMU also had 26-game win streak entering the championship for the longest of any college football division before the Bison won today.


JMU quarterback Bryan Schor was 7-of-12 for 111 yards in last season’s 28-14 NCAA title victory over Youngstown State. He topped both those totals for attempts and completions in the first half of today’s tussle with an 8-for-16 performance for 101 yards.


North Dakota State Notes…


Head coach Chris Klieman is now 57-13-0 (fifth season) as head coach overall, 54-6-0 (fourth year) at NDSU and 3-7 in one year at Loras in 2005. He is 14-1 in NCAA DI playoffs and a 1990 graduate of UNI.


North Dakota State is 710-371-34 (.653) over 1,115 games since the 1894 season and winner of six NCAA DI football crowns.


North Dakota State captured its first three NCAA DI titles under then-head coach Craig Bohl, who left to become head coach at Wyoming prior to the 2014 season. Bohl was a longtime assistant under NFF College Hall of Fame head coach Dr. Tom Osborne and current Ohio coach Frank Solich at Nebraska.


NDSU entered the championship game No. 1 nationally in total defense, No. 2 in scoring offense, No. 8 in total offense, No. 7 in rushing, and No. 2 in scoring defense.


The Bison joined four other MVFC members (most in FCS) Northern Iowa, South Dakota, South Dakota State, and Western Illinois in the 2017 tourney field. NDSU was the automatic qualifier as league champ.


North Dakota State did not upend a FBS team in 2017 because all three non-conference opponents in the regular season were FCS members Mississippi Valley State, Eastern Washington and Robert Morris. In previous years the Bison have kayoed NCAA FBS teams such as Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas State, Kansas, Colorado State, and Iowa State – NDSU is 6-0 vs. FBS opponents since 2010.


The Bison won a school and FBS record 33 consecutive games between 2012 and 2014 and are 37-5 overall since that streak.


Speaking of the FBS, the Big 12 Conference has made it to a NCAA football championship (sorta). North Dakota State is an affiliate member of the Big 12 in the sport of wrestling. The university and conference became affiliated in the mat sport in 2016, and NDSU was sixth in ’16 and finished fourth in the ’17 joust.


From NCAA and Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association:


NCAA DI Championships by schools from the MVFC (8) – formed in 1985

1983 Southern Illinois NCAA IAA (before the MVFC was formed in 1985)

1997 Youngstown State

2002 Western Kentucky

2011-15. 17 North Dakota State


NCAA DI Championships by schools from the CAA (3) – formed in 2007)

2008 Richmond

2009 Villanova

2016 James Madison


FCS Teams winning National Championship for first time, Scores

1978 – Florida A&M 35, Massachusetts 28

1979 – Eastern Kentucky 30, Lehigh 7

1980 – Boise State 31, Eastern Kentucky 29

1981 – Idaho State 34, Eastern Kentucky 23

1983 – Southern Illinois 43, Western Carolina 7

1984 – Montana State 19, Louisiana Tech 6

1985 – Georgia Southern 44, Furman 42

1987 – Louisiana-Monroe 43, Marshall 42

1991 – Youngstown State 25, Marshall 17

1995 – Montana 22, Marshall 20

1998 – Massachusetts 55, Georgia Southern 43

2002 – Western Kentucky 34, McNeese State 14

2004 – James Madison 31, Montana 21

2005 – Appalachian State 21, Northern Iowa 16

2008 – Richmond 24, Montana 7

2009 – Villanova 23, Montana 21

2010 – Eastern Washington 20, Delaware 19

2011 – North Dakota State 17, Sam Houston State 6


Pre-Championship Seeding – James Madison, North Dakota State, Jacksonville State, and Central Arkansas (in its 10th year in FCS as a member of the Southland Conference after playing in the DII Gulf South Conference) were the top four seeds for the 2017 FCS championship.


Final Regular-Season No. 1 Teams to Win Title

1982 Eastern Kentucky

1989 Georgia Southern

1994 Youngstown State

2001 Montana

2006 Appalachian State

2010 Eastern Washington

2012 North Dakota State

2013 North Dakota State

2016 James Madison

(Note: Eventual runner-up Sam Houston State was No. 1 ranked in 2011, and No. 2 finisher JMU was No. 1 in the final 2017 AFCA Coaches poll)


There have been 17 times a team won the DI national championship in its first appearance, including four of the last eight (Richmond in 2008, Villanova in 2009, Eastern Washington in 2010, and North Dakota State in 2011). There have been 15 instances when a team has lost in its first national championship appearance and five schools since 2003: 2003, Colgate; 2005, Northern Iowa; 2011, Sam Houston State; 2013, Towson; 2014, Illinois State; and 2015, Jacksonville State.


IFRA updates also show that in 30 of the 40 DI title games, one or both the competing teams in the title game has scored 500 points in a season. There have been 19 champs with 500-point scoring seasons, and the Top 10 season totals for NCAA DI are:


747 Georgia Southern, 1999, champ

700, James Madison, 2016 champ

658 Marshall, 1996, champ

654 Georgia Southern, 1998, runner-up

652 Montana, 1995, champ

640 Appalachian State, 2007, champ

638 Montana, 1996, runner-up

619 Georgia Southern, 1986, champ

606 Sam Houston State, 2016, third round

604 Marshall, 1992, champ

604 Sam Houston State, 2012, runner-up

Note: North Dakota State had 581 points in 15 games in 2017

Couple of weather notes today:

It is expected to be 14 degrees (F) at 11 a.m. (CST) after a morning low of 13 (F) at Fargo, N.D., and a high temperature for Saturday at 15 degrees. In Harrisonburg, Va., kickoff temp is slated to be 18 degrees (F) after a morning low of 1 and clear skies. Predicted Saturday high is 19 degrees in Harrisonburg. Game time temperature at Toyota Stadium was 53 degrees with a slight wind chill factor and partly cloudy skies with no chance of precipitation until later Saturday night. The high for Saturday in Frisco is projected at 61 degrees (F).



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