The 2023 FCS National Championship Game kicks off Sunday, Jan. 8 at 2:00 p.m. ET between the North Dakota State Bison (12-2) and South Dakota State Jackrabbits (13-1). The game is broadcast from Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on ABC. South Dakota State is a favorite while North Dakota State– looking for their 10th title in 12 years– are on the moneyline. The game carries an over/under of . Find FCS National Championship odds and a game preview below.
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FCS National Championship Odds: North Dakota State Vs. South Dakota State
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South Dakota State: A National Powerhouse
The lone loss on the Jackrabbits’ record this season came in Week 1 on the road against Iowa. South Dakota State lost a tough defensive battle 7-3, allowing zero touchdowns to Iowa. From there, it was pure domination week-in and week-out for SDSU, topped by a +26.0 average point margin throughout the playoffs.
In the semifinal round against Montana State, SDSU put the game away early. Workhorse back Isaiah Davis rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries (9.9 yards per carry) while quarterback Mark Gronowski totaled three touchdowns, two through the air and another on the ground.
Defense is the story for the Jackrabbits this season. They held Montana State to just 3/12 on third down (25%) and 1.5 yards per rush. On the season, SDSU allowed 4.5 yards per play– third overall in FCS and tops of any team in the FCS playoff field. They were even more impressive against the run, allowing a paltry 2.7 yards per carry, the best in the country.
South Dakota State last played in Frisco in 2021, where they fell to Sam Houston State.
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North Dakota State: The Dynasty Continues
North Dakota State’s reign over FCS football is nearly unprecedented. Nine titles in 11 years is only matched by the 1960s and 1970s UCLA men’s basketball team in college sports and the Boston Celtics of the 1960s in all of sports. This run comes in spite of a rotation of coaches and quarterbacks, with NDSU being a factory of putting out successful FBS coaches (most recently, Kansas State’s Chris Kleimann and Wyoming’s Craig Bohl).
However, this year’s Bison team has two losses on their record– only the second NDSU squad to reach the championship game with two losses (2015). Those losses don’t come without their merit, though. The first occurred on the road against Arizona while the other was a nail-biter of a home loss to South Dakota State.
The team is dealing with injuries to their top three rushers, Kobe Johnson (902-8), TaMerik Williams (679-8), and fullback Hunter Luepke (619-9). Johnson and Williams are questionable, though head coach Matt Entz didn’t sound optimistic about their return; Luepke will not play. However, the cast of Bison rushers extends further than just those two. Quarterback Cam Miller has 15 rushing touchdowns on the season and TK Marshall has been worked into the rotation recently.
North Dakota State is 9-0 in FCS Championship games.
FCS National Championship Game Prediction
The health of Johnson and Williams is a fairly important component to North Dakota State’s success. Rushing into the teeth of South Dakota State’s defense is already tough enough, much less without your top three rushers.
These two teams played back in October at the Fargodome, where South Dakota State came away with a thrilling 23-21 victory. North Dakota State had a firm grasp on the game until the fourth quarter. Miller completed 17 of 22 passes for 227 yards and a pair of touchdowns while the Bison ground game only mustered 124 yards.
As we know in college football, it’s hard to beat teams twice.
Both Bill Connelly’s SP+ and Sagarin’s power ratings favor South Dakota State by 2.7 points. However, the line did move off SDSU -3.5 from opening to now . Given that Miller showed the ability to efficiently move the football through the air, thus minimizing the thin depth at running back, and multiple power ratings giving me a lower number than the spread, I’m backing North Dakota State +5 (-110).
It’s difficult to beat good teams twice and North Dakota State’s championship pedigree is tough to ignore.