It's American to hate to lose, who are we kidding? Even when you've played a juggernaut tough for four quarters and are driving and just a few yards away from tying the ballgame, and you don't get it done — it still feels like you lost by 60 points. But nobody in Saturday's FCS Championship game can say that kind of dominance took place. But try telling fans or players to focus on the "big picture" after a game like this.
Nobody's in the mood to hear about "big picture" right now, dammit. JMU fans made their way from Virginia to witness this. They don't want a consolation prize after that much effort. But the truth is, only one program has consistently risen up to challenge the Green and Gold FCS marauders of the Great Plains.
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In this recent era of this unique "rivalry," these two teams have faced off three times and should have faced off four times (if not for an untimely and massively distracting coaching change in the second round of the playoffs last year). They've been destined to hit each other in the postseason. Somehow, it seems, they continue to find a way to run into each other.
All three games have been good. Neither team ran away with a win in those three matchups, they've all been nailbiters. Nobody else can say that about North Dakota State. Even FBS teams can't say that about the Bison in this past decade. Nobody has consistently challenged the Bison like the Dukes have.
Walking away from the stadium after the game had wrapped and the confetti had settled and the craziness has subsided, NDSU fans were talking about how good a game it was. See, Bison fans are educated football fans, and though they love to remind you who won, they also know what they're looking at because they understand the game. They're a humble lot and will give credit where credit is due.
The fans I talked to? They gave credit. They shook their heads and did that little "whistle" indicating how close they all were to being disappointed — and feeling like they'd lost by 60 points. You know, that feeling.
It's not a consolation prize, Dukes fans. Being considered an FCS Titan is a compliment. You're not a comet that comes around only once every couple of decades. You're a moon that has a gravitational effect on the rest of the level and especially the largest moon, that Green and Gold one.
The way JMU is playing in recent years will likely have an effect on what NDSU continues to do down the line. Obviously NDSU has had that effect on the FCS for years now. Former JMU head coach Mike Houston even said early on that if you want to knock a team like NDSU off its pedestal, you'd better go figure out what exactly it does right and incorporate some of it into what you do.
One has to think that's exactly what NDSU will do, as it continues to try to keep FCS competitors in the rearview mirror.
Folks, the forefathers may not have expected people Virginia and people of the state of North Dakota to be competitors, but that's what's happened. A loss in that rivalry isn't something to put over, only something to celebrate and improve upon.
The next step is — can JMU get to NDSU's level when it comes to reloading and not rebuilding? We will see that for sure in 2020.
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