2018 NCAA Division I Football Championship Notes

by BoCarter | Posted on Sunday, January 6th, 2019


Final Score: North Dakota State 38, Eastern Washington 24

General Notes

EWU and North Dakota State now have captured eight of the last nine NCAA Division I football championships from 2010-18 – all at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. James Madison intervened with the 2016 title in a 28-14 win over Youngstown State.

The 2018 Most Outstanding Player award goes to NDSU wideout Darrius Shepherd with five catches for 125 yards, two touchdowns (the Bison’s margin of victory) and a long gainer of 78 yards. The 2017 Most Outstanding Player award was presented to Easton Stick, the NDSU quarterback with 13-of-22 passing for 130 yards and one decisive TD toss and 14 rushes for 35 net yards. Easton played at football-notable Creighton Prep in Omaha, Neb., is a native of baseball-famous Papillion, Neb., and holds virtually all the NDSU season and career passing marks. Stick entered the game with a FCS-best all-time mark of 48-3 as a starting quarterback and increased that to 49-3 with the win. He also rushed 18 times for 121 yards and three TDs today while completing 13-of-19 for 198 yards and two touchdowns.

Today’s attendance was 17,902. The composite attendance for the 2018 NCAA Division I championship tourney is 250,000-plus. In 2017 NCAA DI overall championship attendance was a NCAA season record 285,746 (including 19,090 at the NDSU-James Madison finale).The January 2016 NDSU-Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley Conference affiliate) encounter 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 before the 2017 tourney eclipsed that mark. The NCAA Division I championship game attendance record remains 32,106 for in 1995 for Montana’s 22-20 win over Marshall in Huntington, W.Va.

North Dakota State (seven crowns, 7-0 record in championship contest) and Georgia Southern (six titles, 6-2 record in title matchups) entered Saturday’s game with the most DI football trophies in the now-41-year history of completion. Next are Youngstown State (four, 4-3) and Appalachian State (three, 3-0) while James Madison (2-1 in championship tests), Eastern Kentucky (2-2), Marshall (2-4) and Montana (2-5) are tied for fifth place with two NCAA DI grid championships apiece. Last year NDSU (5-0 at the time) and JMU (2-0 through the 2017 season) were a combined 1.000 winning percentage in seven championship finals. The Bison took that hard-fought encounter 17-13.

The Bison are tied for third in all-time NCAA FCS playoff victories behind Georgia Southern with 45 with Montana at 32. Eastern Washington remains in eighth place all-tie with 19 NCAA playoff triumphs.

NDSU retains its top spot in all-time FCS playoffs’ winning percentage at .941 (32-2) with today’s win. EWU is sixth in historic NCAA FCS postseason play with a .613 winning rate (19-12).

There never has been an overtime contest in the 41-season history of Division I football championships. The team scoring first now is 7-2 in the last nine FCS championships. EWU trailed in the first quarter in its 20-19 comeback win over Delaware in ’10, and Illinois State broke the ice initially in 2014 before falling 29-27 to NDSU.

The Bison have won 26 NCAA team championships – 14 in NCAA DI or DII football (seven in each division) – 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 Eagles have one NCAA team crown – the 2010 football squad.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference has won seven of the last eight DI crowns from 2011-18 with North Dakota State representing the circuit. This is NDSU’s first meeting with Eastern Washington in the championship and fourth all-time series meeting. The Bison now lead the rivalry with the Eagles 3-1, this is the third consecutive year in which the two schools have met and second time they have played in the NCAA football tournament.

The MVFC also holds the NCAA FCS record with eight consecutive schools in the finals from 2011-18 and is now 9-4 (.692) in 13 appearances in the championship. The Southern Conference (16 championships, 8-8 record), Big Sky (15 championships, 6-9), CAA (12, 6-6 record), and FBS independents (12, 9-3) all have competed in at least 12 finales.

North Dakota State downed EWU 40-13 at Cheney, Wash., in 2017 and edged the Eagles 50-44 in overtime in Fargo, N.D., in ’16. Eastern downed the Bison 38-31 in the 2010 NCAA DI quarterfinals.

Eastern Washington is the last non-CAA or MVFC member to win the DI title with a 20-19 victory over Delaware in 2010 with former Blue Hens football student-athlete and then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in attendance. That also was the first of nine consecutive DI championship contests in Frisco. Teams from the Big Sky Conference captured DI medals five times from 1980-1995.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference is 19-15 all-time against Big Sky teams in 34 games in the DI playoffs. There was one matchup between MVFC and BSC teams in 2018, and that was a 52-10 win by North Dakota State over Montana State.

Toyota Stadium has hosted its 11 NCAA FCS championships or FBS bowl tussles since 2010. In the inaugural 2017 DXL Frisco Bowl Louisiana Tech downed SMU 51-10 while Ohio blanked San Diego State 27-0 in the 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl.

The three closest DI title game outcomes in the last 10 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 of the CAA over Montana of the Big Sky Conference in 2009. The lone shutout in DI annals (41 games) was Delaware’s 40-0 acing of Colgate at Chattanooga, Tenn., in 2003. Last year’s championship by NDSU over James Madison was decided by four points.

After back-to-back pairings between NDSU and Sam Houston State in 2011 and ’12, this is the sixth year in succession when there was no championship rematch. Marshall and Youngstown State have the longest skein of consecutive meetings in the championship from 1991-93.

NDSU is the 21st different school to win a NCAA Division I National Championship over 41 seasons since NCAA Division play began in 1978 with Florida A&M downing Massachusetts 35-28 in 1978 at Wichita Falls, Texas, Memorial Stadium. The all-time winning teams represent eight different conferences – Atlantic 10, Big Sky (EWU), CAA, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Missouri Valley Football (North Dakota State), Ohio Valley, Southern, Southland – and Division I independents. UMass later played the 2016-18 seasons as a NCAA FBS independent and previously had been in the Mid-American Conference. Some other familiar now-FBS programs with FCS crowns have been Boise State (1980), Georgia Southern (six times), Appalachian State (three), Marshall (two), Louisiana-Monroe (formerly Northeast Louisiana – one), and WKU (one).

NDSU (2011-15, 17-18) is 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 WKU (then a member of the Gateway Conference in 2002 and champion) before NDSU began its seven-trophy run. Besides EWU in 2010, Boise State (1980), Idaho State (1981), Montana State (1984), and Montana (1995 and 2001) have been titlists from the Big Sky.

There were seven different schools as champions (Eastern Kentucky won in 1979 and ’82) over eight seasons in DI from 1978-85 before Georgia Southern repeated in 1985 and ’86. Since 2005 (last 14 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 2011-2015/17-18, and James Madison in 2016.

This is Eastern Washington’s first trip to the championship under second-year head coach Aaron Best (19-7 as the Eagles head coach and overall as a college mentor) and the fourth in five seasons for NDSU head coach Chris Klieman is 69-6 with the Bison and 72-13 overall (six seasons) as a college head coach. Best was bidding to join former James Madison head coach Mike Houston (2016) and Klieman (2014 at NDSU) as the 20th NCAA DI coach to capture the crown in his first season at a title game school over 41 years. Thus also was Klieman’s final game at North Dakota State as he was named head coach at Kansas State of the Big 12 Conference Dec. 10, 2018, to replace the legendary NFF College Hall of Fame KSU head coach Bill Snyder. Former NDSU head coach Craig Bohl (now at Wyoming) also guided the Bison to a 24-21 upset victory at K-State in 2013 when Klieman was an assistant coach on Bohl’s staff.

This is the 12th 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, 17-18, and James Madison (2016) in Frisco.

The Most Outstanding Player in both the 2014 and ’15 FCS title games is a familiar name in college and National Football League circles – Carson Wentz of NDSU and the 2018 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.

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 11 seasons. No team has made its first appearance and captured the title since Florida A&M in 1978. First-year participants in the 2018 tourney were Incarnate Word and Lamar (both Southland Conference) and UC Davis (Big Sky). The longest current streaks of consecutive DI football tourney appearances are North Dakota State with 9, South Dakota State, 7; Jacksonville State, 6; James Madison, 5; San Diego, 3; and Wofford, 3. North Alabama also joined NCAA FCS as a provisional member in 2018 and closed with a solid, 7-3 record, and the three-time NCAA Division II championship school (21 total NCAA DII playoff seasons, 35-18 all-time postseason mark) fell at North Dakota State 38-7 on Sept. 15.

The top four seeds in the 2018 tourney were North Dakota State, Weber State, Eastern Washington, and Kennesaw State.

The Bison are 32-2 in NCAA Division I football playoff history, completed their ninth year of FCS appearances in ’18 and have an all-time postseason football mark of 66-15 on all levels of NCAA activity. ND State also is 62-14 (.816) in all NCAA playoffs (DI-IAA-II) since the system first was changed in 1973 and later to NCAA Division I-AA in 1978.

From Intercollegiate Football Research Association annals, teams playing in at least three consecutive NCAA DI championship games have been: North Dakota State 7 (7-0), 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).

IFRA updates also show that in 31 of the 41 DI title games, one or both the competing teams in the title game has scored 500 points in a season – in today’s game, both teams started play with 500-plus markers. There have been 20 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

627 Eastern Washington, 2018, runner-up

622 North Dakota State, 2018, champ

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

Eastern Washington entered the game as the No. 3 scoring team nationally with 603 points and a 44.5 average. The Eagles now have tallied 627 markers in 15 games for a 41.8 quota. NDSU had scored 584 points through 14 unbeaten games with a 41.7 average and now has 622 points and a 41.5 standard.

Both teams started Saturday with an opportunity to move into the Top 10 in FCS season history in scoring and climbed into those rankings. Both already have joined the elite 500-point season scoring fraternity in NCAA FCS in 2018 and are the 54th and 55th FCS members to enter the exclusive IFRA 500-point-season club. South Dakota just missed the mark by four points with 496 points in 13 clashes in 2017.

No team with two or more losses has won the DI championship since 12-3 Richmond captured all the marbles in 2003. Eastern Washington was 12-2 entering the contest and needed one more win to set a school season record with its 13th victory.

Key wins by NCAA Division I squads over NCAA FBS opponents in 2018 were:

Aug. 30: UC Davis 44, San Jose State 38

Sept. 1: No. 19 Villanova 19, Temple 17

Northern Arizona 30, UTEP 10

No. 18 Nicholls 26, Kansas 23 (OT)

Sept. 2: No. 14 North Carolina A&T 28, East Carolina 23

Sept. 8: No. 22 Maine 31, WKU 28

Sept. 22: No. 16 Illinois State 35, Colorado State 19

The contract with Frisco for the DI championship was extended this week through 2025. One of the most popular figures in the early history of the Frisco-NCAA FCS association and critical to the original site agreement was former Frisco Mayor The Hon. Maher Maso. The pronunciation of his first name was “May-er” so he often was addressed as “May-er Mayor.” The current mayor of Frisco is The Hon. Jeff Cheney, possibly a distant relative of Boston, Mass., railroad legend Benjamin Pierce Cheney – is the namesake of Cheney, Wash. – the location of Eastern Washington University.

The ninth 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 $9-10 million. Several North Dakota State fans have attended annually (even in 2016 when James Madison and Illinois State were in the finals), and both NDSU and EWU fans have done ample sampling of Texas specialty dining and entertainment.

NDSU school also has a familiar hand similar to Texas’ “Hook ‘Em” two-fingered signal in this area, and the legend lives in true story fashion that 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. Busloads of fans from both teams have dined and celebrated at dozens of Frisco and DFW Metroplex establishments since early in the week.

Eastern Washington Quick Notes

EWU is now 541-417-23 (.563) in 981 games since 1901 and 19-12 all-time in NAIA and NCAA postseason activity.

Eastern Washington is 90-30-0 (.750) since 2010 and trails only NDSU (121-13 over the nine seasons) among FCS teams that qualify the NCAA Division I football tourney.

Head coach Aaron Best is 19-7 after his second season with the Eagles after serving as offensive coordinator at the university from 2008-16. He played as a center and deep snapper at EWU from 1996-99.

The Eagles entered the game on pace to finish second all-time in FCS team rushing average per play at 6.9. Today they rushed 33 times for 157 yards and a 4.8 average. One carry for 75 yards and a touchdown run by Sam McPherson accounted for over half EWU’s net rushing total.

EWU quarterback Eric Barriere is 8-2 as a starter.

Eastern’s only two losses were to Valero Alamo Bowl champ Washington State and FCS power Weber State.

Former EWU head coach Beau Baldwin, who guided the Eagles to their 2010 NCAA crown, now is offensive coordinator for the California Golden Bars under head coach Justin Wilcox.

The Eagles have attracted school-record turnouts on the road in excess of 30,000 17 times against NCAA FBS opponents. The largest turnout for an EWU clash was 64,522 against BYU at Provo, Utah, in 2007.

North Dakota State Notes…

Head coach Chris Klieman is now 72-13-0 (sixth season) as head coach overall, 69-6-0 (fourth year) at NDSU and 3-7 in one year at Loras in 2005. He is 18-1+ in NCAA DI playoffs and a 1990 graduate of UNI. NDSU defensive coordinator Matt Entz is taking over the program as head coach after today’s skirmish.

North Dakota State is 735-371-34 (.657) over 1,140 games since the 1894 season and winner of six NCAA DI football crowns. The Bison squad has captured 21 consecutive games after today’s triumph.

The Bison team now has four FCS crowns under Coach Klieman. 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. Solich guided the Bobcats to a 27-0 victory San Diego State in the December 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl.

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 again (in a roundabout way). 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 and placed fifth overall in 2018.

From NCAA and Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association:

NCAA DI Championships by schools from the MVFC (10) – formed in 1985

1983 Southern Illinois NCAA I-AA (before the MVFC was formed in 1985)

1997 Youngstown State

2002 Western Kentucky

2011-15, 17-18 North Dakota State

NCAA DI Championships by schools from the Big Sky (6) – formed in 1963

1980 Boise State

1981 Idaho State

1984 Montana State

1995, 2001 Montana

2010 Eastern Washington

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

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.

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

2018 North Dakota State

(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)

Couple of weather notes today:

A high of 31 degrees (F) is expected in Fargo, N.D., today after a morning low of 15 degrees while the maximum temperature in Cheney, Wash., Saturday is 41 degrees after a morning low of 35 degrees (F). Kickoff temperature at Toyota Stadium was 58 degrees with a slight wind and clear skies. The high for Saturday in Frisco is projected at 66 degrees (F).



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