Meet North Dakota State. Every FBS program’s worst nightmare.
The Bison are kings of the FCS – Football Championship Subdivision – otherwise known as Division I-AA, winning their respective national championship the past two years. And each fall, North Dakota State crosses the tracks into FBS territory and tangles with the big boys for a tune-up game.
This time around, the Bison march to Manhattan to face the Kansas State Wildcats in Week 1 and oddsmakers are giving NDSU plenty of respect, setting the FCS champs as 13-point road underdogs. In fact, some books opened NDSU as a 15-point pup and were quickly bet down to its current stand.
That short spread may shock some. But the Bison have been FBS giant killers the past three seasons, winning SU and ATS against Colorado State (22-7 as 4-point dogs) in 2012, Minnesota (37-24 as 9.5-point dogs) in 2011, and Kansas (6-3 as 27.5-point dogs) in 2010.
“It’s safe to say that North Dakota State is the FCS version of Alabama,” Mike Perry of Sportsbook.com told Covers. “After all, they have won two straight national championships so bookmakers definitely have a healthy respect for NDSU.”
Besides being automatically discounted by opponents as an FCS program, North Dakota State has a strong mental edge every time it butts helmets with an FBS school. Unlike their Div. 1-A foes, the Bison have nothing to lose and everything to gain in these games.
If they get beat, they’re just another FCS punching bag. But if they win, not only does that give NDSU a huge head of steam heading into its regular season, it also sends its FBS opponent reeling. Media sources gobble up the big upset, setting the stage for failure for the fallen Goliath. The last three FBS schools to lose to North Dakota State are a combined 10-26 SU and 16-18-2 ATS during that respective season.
Of course, the likes of Colorado State, Minnesota, and Kansas aren’t the toughest gauntlet to run and KSU represents the Bison’s biggest FBS challenge ever. However, NDSU’s resume is not lost on the Wildcats.
“This is a faster football team than people want to envision,” KSU head coach Bill Snyder told the Wichita Eagle. “Sometimes on tape you can’t visualize that, but they run around. Secondly, they are as aggressive and as tough as a football team as you will line up against. They play with a great deal of confidence. Defensively, they have been amazing.”
That’s high praise coming from the guy with his name on the stadium where the Bison and Wildcats meet Friday night.