The highly-anticipated FCS championship showdown between North Dakota State and South Dakota State is still 1.5 weeks away. It gives us media folks plenty of time to break down and predict what we think will happen.
But what do those in the coaching profession think about the final outcome on Jan. 8 in Frisco?
I asked several FCS head coaches and assistant coaches across the country to share their anonymous predictions and reasoning. Here is what they said.
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This is a matchup of all matchups. One of the greatest rivalries at any level of football for a National Championship. It will be tough for SDSU to beat NDSU twice in a season, but they are also undefeated vs. FCS opponents this year with impressive showings throughout the playoffs. It’s two top 5 defenses that physically wear down their opponents. You look at any stat in all three phases of the game and these teams are tops in the nation. There are tons of playmakers all over the field but it will be big plays by SDSU’s offense that spark a 27-24 SDSU win in this back and forth affair.
Jackrabbits. It’s tough to beat a team twice in the same season, but SDSU is a more complete team and will be hungry and determined. Just need to avoid the catastrophic mistakes because NDSU is a big momentum team that plays well when ahead.
South Dakota State is going to win. The defensive line for NDSU is not like the ones of old. I was surprised the last game was as close as it was.
A battle of physical attrition. Both teams tough and rugged. Strong running games. Bend but don’t break defenses. Big plays will come in the play action pass game. Both like to have safety’s actively involved in stopping the run. NDSU top tacklers in the secondary. They will need them. Run, run and run again then pass for explosive plays. Field position in regards to Special Teams, all even. Where they start and where they defend critical. In the end, 26 – 28 SDSU winning the Natty.
I think South Dakota State is going to win. They are a complete team that is playing with extreme confidence. They’ve figured out how to finish tough, close games since the ‘21 Spring. This will be their last test they have to pass.
I think South Dakota State will be able to win this year. I know NDSU has a lot of guys hurt and they are getting some guys back, but I think South Dakota State has been playing dominant football at the end of the year.
The 2023 FCS National championship comes down to familiar foes. North Dakota State vs South Dakota State. These teams know each other very well, I believe the key to victory is what team can create another element of offense. NDSU has had seven straight games of under 200 yards passing, season-low vs UIW of just 5 yards on 1-12 passing. They want to run the ball over and over and over! However, their season low rushing this season was 127 and season high passing was 227 in a loss to SDSU! I believe SDSU knows how to stop NDSU rushing attack and will force them to pass the ball again, which Cam Miller isn’t comfortable doing! I predict SDSU to win the National Championship 31-20 over NDSU.
I think SDSU will win as long as they can handle the moment, which I think they will because they have a ton of upperclassmen. NDSU has been a team that doesn’t take many risks and makes opponents grind it out and earn it. SDSU is talented enough to do that if they can play clean. SDSU hasn’t always played clean but has always had a stretch of high level play during the game that wins it for them. In the end I think SDSU is too talented and veteran heavy and will pull out some big plays like they have all year.
I think it will be tough for SDSU to beat the Bison twice in the same year. I think SDSU is more skilled but for some reason I think NDSU is going to win another one. NDSU 24-21
Haven’t had the chance to prepare for either one of these teams in the past couple years, but have watched from afar in some other scouts we have done for CAA opponents. Both teams want to play sound defense, win turnover margin, and run the football/stop the run. Watching this year, it looks like South Dakota State has a slight edge especially with the length they have on defense at all 3 levels. They have a ton of range and can really track down plays. They let up very minimal explosives in the run game or pass game. NDSU will stay in this game and make it extremely competitive because they probably run the football as effective as anyone in the country along with Montana State and William & Mary. The strengths when you watch the game is going to be NDSU O vs. SDSU D which will most likely be a wash. It really comes down to the SDSU O vs. NDSU D as it looks like NDSU has taken a step back on defense. I think SDSU can do enough running and throwing the football to win the game. It’s going to be an awesome game and extremely competitive. Think it’s really good for FCS football that this matchup is happening. I would go SDSU 27, NDSU 21.
We played both this fall. What always stands out is how physical these teams play and how good their defensive lines are. Always hard to pick against NDSU, but SDSU has more talent this year and has proven they can beat them consistently. SDSU can hurt you a lot of different ways on offense. NDSU will have to tackle really well. I expect the defenses to limit the QB run game, so the downfield accuracy and ability to extend plays will be something to watch for with both quarterbacks. I think NDSU will need a big special teams play or defensive takeaway to help them. My prediction is Jacks win by a touchdown.
Having not seen them on crossover video this year this is a bit tougher than I’d like. Some playoff TV viewing is about it. Ultimately I think this ends up 27-21 Jackrabbits. SDSU has won the last three including this year’s matchup in Fargo. NDSU has shown resilience in their playoff run but SDSU is a better team in my opinion. While it’s typically insane to think the Bison will lose any game, I’m choosing the army of Busch drinkers heading to Frisco.
I truly think this is a tough call. On paper and on film, I think that South Dakota State is the better football team. They are big and physical but also very explosive. North Dakota State is not what they have been, but they know how to win in the playoffs. Tough call but I think South Dakota State wins in the end. I’m excited to see the game.
Jacks have been the best Rush Defense in FCS And SDSU OL Coach Olson is going to find a way to run the ball. Jacks by 10.
This is going to be a heavyweight fight between two physical teams that really do not like each other. While it’s always hard to discount the Bison in Frisco, I think SDSU is too stacked on both sides of the ball and the Bison are recovering from too many injuries. SDSU’s semi-final win over Montana St was one of the most impressive games I saw this season. I think the Jackrabbits will beat the Bison in another slugfest.
I’m going with NDSU, tough to beat a team twice of their caliber and if they eliminate the lone turnover in the end zone in the regular season game they most likely would have won that one.
I think college football is all about matchups and this should be a great one. In many ways, it is strength vs strength and both teams benefit greatly with home-field advantages. I think SDSU’s run defense and more balance on offense gives them the edge. I don’t think you can beat them by just running the football – turnovers will be huge.
Interesting game. Hard to defeat someone twice in the same season. When I watched the Iowa – South Dakota State game opening weekend, I told my staff, if their defense stays healthy they will win in Frisco this year. NDSU can call Frisco their home field for what they have done the last decade. South Dakota State wishing they could play halfway at summit high school off whipple road I reckon. An ‘A’ gap power team versus a defense that has dominated their opponents. Hell of a matchup. Two quality staffs with time to scheme. I’m taking South Dakota State. Defense wins championships. Peach, Fiesta, Rose can’t hold a candle to the two Dakota teams in the “Scheels – Devils Lake Walleye Bowl.”
South Dakota State. QB is better and more capable.
The FCS playoff system works – the two best teams are left to fight it out. Both teams are very physical and well-coached. It’s a tossup but I’ll take NDSU based on experience in the Title game. They don’t know how to lose!
I think it’s always hard to bet against N Dakota St but if I had to predict a winner I’d take S Dakota St. The game is going to come down to one of the best rushing offenses (NDSt) vs the best rushing defense (SDSt). In their first matchup SDSt won that battle limiting them to around 130 yards. The QB from NDSt was good that game going 17/23. Last week vs IW he was like 1/11, he can’t do that against SDSt and win. I think the biggest advantage SDSt has is they have been excellent in the red zone because they are a great QB run team and if NDSt has a statistical weakness it’s their RZ defense. In big games you gotta score TDs, not field goals. All this and the fact SDSt has already beaten them in Fargo no less makes me side w SDSt.
I would say SDSU is going to win. That defensive front is one of the best in college football today. They have a two head weapon on offense with Davis and now that Mark is getting healthy, teams have to cover it all. Last the SR leaders on that team know what it will take to beat NDSU and wouldn’t want it any other way.
SDSU … this the year they get over the hump vs NDSU in the playoffs. Also, easily SDSU’s greatest team in their history.
It’s honestly a tossup with how evenly matched these 2 teams are on both sides of the ball. I’ll give SDSU a slight edge because of their QB. NDSU should come out strong and wanting revenge but I think SDSU finds a way to get it done late in the game.
I’m not betting against NDSU man. Hard to beat a team twice but especially the Bison. They always find a way to win and their experience in this game will pay off. I pick NDSU.
I’ve got SDSU. I think it’s their year. They are the healthier team going into the game. And in my opinion stronger on D and in the passing game on offense. Super impressive how they took down Montana State, who I had winning it all. I think they will be tough to beat.
A Valley team will win it all! Jacks in a close one. Bison make it a 4 quarter game despite their injury problems. SDSU defense will be the difference.
South Dakota State – interesting to see how many injured Bison make it back. But they are limited by injury. A few NDSU guys jumping in portal prior to the playoff run is never good for mojo. Think the QB matchup favors the Jacks.
FCS National Title Game Winner = North Dakota State. No chance I’m going against the NDSU National Title Pedigree, this crew knows how to win regardless of the year. They run the ball better than any team in the FCS (it doesn’t matter what the stats say) and they play real defense! NDSU’s playoff run has been more impressive than SDSU’s. Playoff football is just different and NDSU is showing they can win tight games regardless of which phase they have to rely on. This team has had to win games in a variety of ways which means them counting on their Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. NDSU is a more complete team and even though anything can happen in a rivalry game…I’m going with the Bizon by 10+!!
SDSU 34-17. SDSU has been built to stop the Bison. NDSU is limited on offense especially with their stud RB out. SDSU dominated the Montana State rushing attack holding them to around 50 yds if I remember correctly. I don’t see NDSU suddenly developing a strong passing attack over the break. (Qb was 1-12 passing against IWU). At end of day, SDSU has several future NFL players on their offense. They will show up and be too much for the Bison. I do think special teams will keep it closer than it should be.
South Dakota State. Pulling for Coach Stiegelmeier! Great example of perseverance. Hope he wins it.
NDSU because I think they have so much big game experience. Big Time Coaching Staff and really great schemes on both sides of the ball. Not taking anything away from SDSU cuz they are also such a great team. Gonna be awesome!!
North Dakota State. There is something in the water in Fargo, ND. Those guys know how to win late in the year. They play a physical brand of football and have enough explosive speed to play that style of game with anyone as well. I can’t pick against a team that has ran the FCS for the last decade plus.
SDSU wins by 10 pts or less. Physical game on both sides but the Jackrabbits have too much in the run game and their defense will create too much chaos for NDSU’s offense.