In the FCS Huddle: Legacies on the line

6:36 PM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
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Frisco, TX (Sports Network) - There's quite different legacies at stake for both North Dakota State and Sam Houston State on Saturday when they meet again in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game.

NDSU, last year's national champion, is back with a chance to become the fifth program to claim a title repeat, and the first since Appalachian State won three titles in a row from 2005-07.

Considering the Bison start only four seniors, win or lose on Saturday, there's a terrific chance coach Craig Bohl will have his team back in Frisco yet again next year.

Dare we say the D-word - dynasty?

Of course, before anybody gets ahead of himself, it will take the Bison winning two national titles for the current nucleus to be held up alongside the great teams in FCS history.

Sam Houston State, on the other hand, will be happy to stand in the way and win its first FCS title in what should be a terrific game.

The Bearkats are more of a loose group than NDSU's business-like approach, and they have more seniors who play significant roles than what's on the Bison roster, but they also hope their underclassmen can bring them back next year.

They just don't want the group's legacy to resemble the Buffalo Bills'.

"I do believe we're battle-tested, we had a very tough schedule," Sam Houston coach Willie Fritz said Friday at the final NCAA press conference before Saturday's title game.

"We knew that going into the year. I'm not into excuses and those kind of different things, and our players are not, either. The guys just did a tremendous job of delivering, playing hard each and every week.

"I really think these seniors, they've won a lot of ball games. A lot of these guys are three- and four-year starters at Sam Houston. They're a very talented group, a bunch of very good students in that group, a bunch of guys who are very involved in the university."

"I would just say that this a second opportunity," senior center Chris Rogers said, "especially to meet the same team twice, you're not going to get them very often. A lot of us are very lucky to be in the situation that we're in. We never get a chance to put pads on again after this day, so we're going to leave it out there and see what happens."

Which also is what the North Dakota State players plan to do.

In Frisco, it feels like January 2012 all over again with the Bison faithful making the pilgrimage to FC Dallas Stadium again and taking away any home- field advantage that Sam Houston State seemingly should have just 200 miles from its campus in Huntsville.

The top-ranked Bison come into the title game leading the FCS in scoring defense and total defense in another dominant season. But the only numbers that will matter to them on Saturday will be on the scoreboard.

"I don't know about legacy," NDSU junior linebacker Grant Olson said. "We've still got a little bit of football to play. But I do know that the recruiting class I came in with and then Garrett (Bruhn) and Marcus' (Williams) recruiting class are a very close group of guys. Joe (Lund) along with the older guys, when we first got here, were very demanding of us, and they pushed us very hard, but through that we've grown a lot as men, and they were then able to accept us, and that was something that allowed us to win the championship last year.

"I think that's one of the reasons this team is so close and we've come as far as we have. We're a very close group of men. We care a lot about each other, we work hard for each other, and we play for each other."

Going back-to-back, Bohl added, "We talked about it a little bit before the beginning of the year. As the older players got together in my office, we set out some goals, and the first goal we set about was to win the Missouri Valley Conference championship, and once we able to accomplish that, the other goal we set about was to win the national championship.

"I think it is very difficult, I don't think, I know, it is very difficult to go back-to-back. It's an unusual task. It's possible."

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