FCS Playoffs 2012: North Dakota State and Top Contenders for National Title

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent INovember 25, 2012

Sep 24, 2011; Minneapolis, MN, USA: North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen (16) steps back to throw a pass in the third quarter against the Minnesota Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Bisons won 37-24. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

The FCS playoffs don't receive the attention that the BCS title race gets among college football fans, but for people who want to watch a real college football playoff, these are the games to check out this winter.

There will be no shortage of exciting games over the next few weeks because this season's playoffs will be very competitive with so many quality teams.

Let's look at the top contenders for the 2012 FCS national title.


North Dakota State

The top seed in this year's FCS playoffs is North Dakota State, who have clinched a first-round bye and will open their championship pursuit on December 1 versus South Dakota State.

These two teams played on November 10, and North Dakota State won 20-17.

The Bison are 10-1 and have a five-game winning streak entering the playoffs. If running backs Sam Ojuri and John Crockett can continue to shine in the running game, North Dakota State will be very tough to beat.

They use their strong rushing attack to tire opposing defenses and dominate the possession battle. In addition to the running game, the Bison are also strong defensively and perform very well on special teams.

This is a well-rounded, fundamentally strong football team, and the top contender to win this year's FCS championship.


Montana State

The Bobcats are the No. 3 seed in the FCS playoffs and have a four-game winning streak. They are 10-1 coming into the playoffs and were the top team in the Big Sky conference this season. The school's first opponent is Stony Brook on December 1.

Montana State is a high-scoring team and need to continue to be successful on offense to win the national title. The Bobcats have scored 30 or more points in seven of their 11 games this year.

Their defense is good, but it has allowed 20 or more points five times. The key for Montana State is to force turnovers and score on its first possession.

The Bobcats play well when they have a lead, so it's important that they don't get off to a bad start during the playoffs.

With a high-powered offense that scores a ton of points, Montana State will be a very tough team to beat in the FCS playoffs.


Eastern Washington

The No. 2 seed in the FCS playoffs is Eastern Washington, who have a first-round bye and will play Wagner in the second round on December 1.

The Eagles didn't dominate many opponents this season, but they performed very well in close games. Eastern Washington is 6-2 in games decided by seven points or fewer.

This team is not afraid of playing in high-pressure situations late in games with the score close. The Eagles rarely make late-game mistakes and do a great job protecting the football.

A strong passing game and an athletic defense will help Eastern Washington contend for the FCS title over the next few weeks. This is a team that no one will want to play in the tournament.