The North Dakota State University Bison football team is the clear cut favorite to repeat as FCS National Champions in 2013. In fact, the only thing that might be standing in their way is them.
In the first of a five week countdown to the August 30 game against Kansas State University, I will provide five reasons the Bison WILL NOT win the National Championship in 2013.
I can already hear Bison Nation (ugh) complaining about this post. “There is no way we lose a game this year! We have the best defense, best quarterback, best coach… (takes large gulp of Busch Light) and the BEST FANS!”
Tough to argue with those points Bison bro but the odds are largely against the Bison three-peating. So, take a look at these five reasons and when you are done shot gunning that cheap beer you can tell me why I am wrong.
5. Wide Receivers
Name me the two wide receivers for the Bison that played in every game last year? Go ahead. I will wait…. Okay. Time is up. Who did you list? Ryan Smith? Nope. Zach Vraa? Sorry, you would be wrong. I can see you furrowing that brow. Let me help you out. The two players you are looking for were Nate Moody and Andrew Oakland.
To say there has been a lack of consistency at wide out for NDSU is an understatement. Injuries to the main receivers are mostly to blame for having players like Moody and Oakland being the only wide outs to play every game.
Regardless, the Bison have had one 1,000-yard receiver under head coach Craig Bohl. The receiving core is the biggest unknown for this team and we have no idea how healthy the group will be moving forward.
4. Injury Bug
In the last two seasons, the most significant injuries, Colten Heagle and Leevon Perry, have gone largely unnoticed because the Bison have depth at those positions. They were missed but there was not large drop off after their injuries last year.
Ryan Smith has been dealing with a bad hamstring since birth but has still found ways to play through it the last couple seasons. The Bison have largely avoided major injuries at positions with little depth. I would be surprised if this was the case three years running.
Health is such a major part of winning and to have a third straight year where you avoid a crippling injury, especially to say the linebacking core, would be amazing. Odds say that somebody will suffer an injury that will keep them out for a major portion of the schedule.
3. Brock Jensen
The Waupaca, Wis. native has been put on the pre-season Walter Payton Award Watch list. He was listed as the Missouri Valley Football Pre-season first team quarterback. He will likely have the most completions and yards passing in school history by the end of the season. He hasn’t lost a road game in two years. Two time national champion. So, why is he third on this list?
Because I don’t believe he is that great of a quarterback. He thrives in the system that NDSU runs because it is a low risk offensive system. You saw last year that when things are going bad for him, they go really bad. (Ex: Indiana State, Missouri State and South Dakota State last year)
He has never thrown for 250 yards in a game and has a tendency to go through stretches where hitting a receiver appears to be more difficult than passing calculus. We saw last year he has the ability to lose games. You have to hope he doesn’t lose a playoff game this year.
2. Lack of Motivation
What is there left for this team to accomplish? Outside A majority of this roster has won 28 games in two years, two MVFC titles and two National Championships. You can’t really say this team was a failure if they don’t win another title.
Outside of a complete disaster this season, this group of seniors will probably go down as the best class in Bison football history. Chances are at least two players, Billy Turner and Marcus Williams, are on their way to careers in the NFL. They have proven they can beat teams from the big bad FBS.
Players will draw motivation from anywhere, even petition fraud. The coaches will have to dig even deeper this season to provide that drive for this team. While this coaching staff has done an unbelievable job the last two seasons, this year may be their most challenging.
1. Too Hard
If you look at the history of college football, at both the FBS and FCS levels, the three-peat has happened three times. Ask your great grandfather about the first two at the FBS level. The Minnesota Gophers did it from 1934-36. The United States Military Academy followed that up by winning three from 1944-46.
At the FCS level, it has only happened once. Appalachian State University won the title in 2005, 06 and 07. The coach of those teams, Jerry Moore, came and talked with NDSU players about the challenge of doing what his team did.
Like I said before, everything has to go perfect for you to do this. Play KSU to open up the season, make the playoffs while playing in one of the toughest conferences in the FCS, make sure nobody irreplaceable gets injured, don’t underperform in December and hope nothing weird happens. Mix all those together and there is your three-peat.
Yeah. Good luck.
You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.