2012 FCS Championship Game: North Dakota State Bison Win Title with Defense

Alan BlackAnalyst IIIJanuary 9, 2012

Photo Courtesy of Associated Press
Photo Courtesy of Associated Press

While Monday's BCS National Championship game may or may not provide an adequate candidate to be crowned national champion, the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly 1-AA) settled its argument on the field Saturday in Frisco, Texas.

The North Dakota State Bison and Sam Houston State Bearkats met in the championship game that was the culmination of over a month's worth of playoff matchups.

As the game clock hit zero, the North Dakota State Bison were the only team left standing at the end of the 2011 FCS playoffs.  The Bison defeated the Bearkats 17-6, earning them their first championship at the FCS level.

The beautiful thing about the game was that it provided a concrete answer to the question of who was the best team at the FCS level this season.  No amount of conjecture or speculation can change the fact that the Bison won the championship.

There had been much hype surrounding Sam Houston State's offense, a unique version of the option attack, invented by Bearkat coaches in order to take advantage of the team's exceptional speed.

Not even the rock-solid Montana Grizzlies defense had been able to stop the Bearkat offense.

The Bison defense showed exactly what they thought of all the hype surrounding the Bearkat offense.  The Bearkats never reached the end zone, managed only 95 rushing yards and totaled only 210 yards altogether.

The Sam Houston State defense was also aggressive and limited the Bison offense to only 235 total yards, but weren't quite as dominant as the North Dakota State defense was.

This wasn't a case of the Sam Houston State offense losing the game, but rather the North Dakota State defense winning it.  The Bearkats offense had no answer for the physicality and various looks the Bison defense threw at them.

The Bison also got a spectacular effort on special teams, which turned the dangerous Bearkat return game into a non-factor.  Perhaps the most impressive effort of any player on the field came from North Dakota State punter Matt Voigtlander. 

He changed the flow of the game by pinning the Bearkats inside their 20-yard line four different times, and averaged 44.2 yards per punt on a whopping 10 punts. 

Oh yeah, he also ran for a 27-yard gain on a fake punt, a play that set up the Bison's first touchdown and changed the complexion of the game.

Defense and special teams ruled the day for the Bison, and in the end it proved enough for them to get the win.

North Dakota State didn't do anything flashy, but they played fundamentally sound football and earned the championship.  No debate about it.