Get ready for the matchup with some key numbers to know.
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The championship game is going to see a battle between two Top 7 offenses and two Top 3 defenses in the FCS.
The Dukes are No. 2 in the subdivision with 41.3 points per game while NDSU is No. 7 with 37.9. The Bison have the No. 1 scoring defense in the FCS, allowing 11.8 points per game. JMU is No. 3 with 14.9.
Twenty-three, yes 23, HERO Sports All-Americans will be in action at Toyota Stadium. JMU had 10 players honored on our three-team All-America while NDSU had eight. The Bison also had five players earn sophomore All-American honors. (Trey Lance was named a freshman All-American, but also made our all-classes AA team.)
Strength On Strength In The Running Game
NDSU's No. 4 rushing offense (behind three option teams) goes up against JMU's No. 1 rushing defense.
The Bison are averaging 288.0 rushing yards per game with 6.41 yards per attempt and have scored 46 touchdowns on the ground. JMU gives up just 61.1 yards rushing per game, 2.22 yards per attempt and opponents have scored only seven TDs on the ground.
The two most efficient passers in the FCS go head-to-head. NDSU's Trey Lance is No. 1 with a passing efficiency of 182.80. JMU's Ben DiNucci is at 173.00.
Lance has gone 186-277 passing for 2,714 yards, 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions. DiNucci is 246-345 passing for 3,237 yards, 27 TDs and five interceptions. Lance is a HERO Sports First Team All-American while DiNucci is on our Second Team.
Matt Entz is in his first season as head coach for the Bison after being NDSU's defensive coordinator since 2014. Curt Cignetti is in his first season as head coach for the Dukes after holding the same job at Elon for two seasons.
Eleven offensive and defensive starters from the FCS title game two years ago are still on JMU and NDSU rosters.
JMU – 6 (WR Riley Stapleton, OL Liam Fornadel, OL Zaire Bethea, OL Mac Patrick, LB Bryce Maginley, CB Rashad Robinson)
NDSU – 5 (OL Zack Johnson, LB Jabril Cox, DE Derrek Tuszka, CB Marquise Bridges, CB Josh Hayes)
A shootout is certainly not expected in Texas. Even the low-to-mid-50s for the over/under total points seems a bit high. That goes to show just how incredible these defenses are when you consider the offenses are among the best in the FCS.
It'll be absolutely key to win the third-down battle, either to get your offense back on the field or to extend drives in a game where points won't be easy.
Offensively, the Dukes are No. 2 in third-down conversion percentage at .541. NDSU is No. 4 at .506. Defensively, JMU is No. 2 in third-down conversion percentage defense at .290. The Bison are No. 14 at .329.
Protecting The QB
Keeping your quarterback clean is always critical. The Bison have three All-American offensive linemen (Dillon Radunz, Zack Johnson and Cordell Volson). JMU has two (Liam Fornadel and Mac Patrick). Three All-American defensive ends are in action (JMU's Ron’Dell Carter and John Daka and NDSU's Derrek Tuszka).
The Bison have 42 team sacks and have allowed 12. JMU has 46 team sacks and has allowed 25.
In the 30-14 semifinal win against Weber State, 13 of JMU's 22 offensive and defensive starters were seniors. In the Bison's 42-14 semifinal win against Montana State, nine of the 22 offensive and defensive starters were seniors.
NDSU has 14 seniors on its roster while JMU has 16 seniors.
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