Could familiarity in FCS title game be an advantage for North Dakota State vs. Towson?

While Tigers make first trip to championship final, Bison are making third straight appearance in FCS's ultimate stage

December 30, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

While Towson revels in the program’s first appearance in a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision tournament final, its opponent is taking a “been there, done that” approach.

North Dakota State will make its third consecutive showing in the FCS title game and has walked away with the national crown in two previous trips. As the No. 1 seed that has compiled a 14-0 record and has won its last 23 games, the Bison have a certain sense of calm about playing in the biggest stage.

“Athletes typically function better when they know what the routine is,” coach Craig Bohl said during a national conference call Friday. “You always get concerned about complacency in the middle of that, but this group is a pretty senior-laden football team and very hungry. So everything from practice to lifting to the routine once we’re down there that the administration has put into place has certainly been helpful.”

But Bohl said the team’s comfort level should not be interpreted as complacency.

“Our coaches and players and myself are very hungry,” he said. “It’s unique to have an opportunity to be in this three times in a row. But I can tell you this: each time you’re here, you just want to give it another time to return. So we’re really excited.”

On the flipside, the No. 7 seed Tigers (13-2) have little familiarity with advancing this deep into the postseason and nerves may be a significant concern. But coach Rob Ambrose pointed out that it’s still a football game.

“We’re not playing basketball or hockey?” he asked rhetorically. “We’re doing all the same stuff we always do. This isn’t rocket science. We’re playing a great football team, we have to play them on the road, clearly we have experience in that. The only difference being that we’re practicing outside in cold weather in December between Christmas and New Year’s. But other than that, there’s no magic 8-ball. There’s no change in how you do what you do for why you do. You just stay the course.”

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