As North Dakota State stepped closer to its fifth-straight national championship Saturday, some elite sports minds were saying how the quarterfinal game was the title game.
It certainly had the crowd noise of a title game.
It certainly was one of the better games played thus far in the 2015 FCS Playoffs.
And especially with Illinois State University losing to University of Richmond on Friday night, the winner of the University of Northern Iowa-NDSU game certainly had to be considered the favorite for the Jan. 9 Championship Game.
And now that the Bison prevailed 23-13, the green and gold should be the favorite to win the title game, even if No. 1 seed Jacksonville State is the matchup.
Heck, even UNI head coach Mark Farley said after the game that it was the title game before the actually title game.
“I felt that these two teams were the two best teams (in the field),” Farley said after Saturday’s game.
However, for the Panthers, their 2015 season was ultimately cut short after Bruce Anderson’s 97-yard kickoff return.
And now the Bison will host the Spiders under the Friday night lights — a team that is a member of the Colonial Conference lead by senior running back Jacobi Green.
In 13 games this season, Green has 21 rushing touchdowns and averages just over 120-rushing yards per game.
NDSU head coach Chris Klieman knows that stopping Green is number one priority.
“He’s an exceptional running back,” Klieman said at his Monday press conference. “I think it’s the best offensive line that we will face this year, and I’m sure the young man (Green) would say the same thing.”
Take a gander back to 2008, Green obviously wasn’t on the roster but UR won the FCS national title that year.
That same year, NDSU suffered a two game losing streak twice, and finished the season with a 6-5 record and failed to make the postseason.
However, since 2011, NDSU has only suffered five losses, counting this season. While, the Spiders have lost three or more games in every season since 2011, compiling a record of 36-25.
Friday’s matchup will be the first time the Bison and Spiders meet, and that’s why the advantage goes to NDSU.
Crowd noise is critical in playoff games, and with UR never playing in front of a Fargodome crowd, the Spiders may just be walking into their own web.
In theory, yes, this quarterfinal game against the Spiders will be the biggest game for the Bison, but Saturday’s game against the Panthers should go down as the toughest game of the entire playoffs for NDSU.