The Other Championships

Everyone knows about the five straight college football FCS championships that the Bison have recently, but what about the other eight championships when the Bison where in Division II prior to the 2011 season. What some don’t know is that the Bison won three of their eight other championships from 1965-1969, when there was polling for the championship game. The other five championships came between 1983-1990.

Prior to 1973 there were no playoffs, but instead four regional bowl games would be played in order to provide postseason action. At the time this was known as the “NCAA College Division” and a poll would then determine the final champion.

The first of these championships came in 1965 as the Bison defeated Grambling State 20-7 in the Midwest Bowl game to finish off their perfect season, 11-0, under Darrell Mudra. This would be the only championship under Mudra.

The Bison won their next two championships in back-to-back years in 1968 and 1969 under Ron Erhardt. In 1968, NDSU won against Arkansas State 23-24 in the Midwest Bowl game to cap off another undefeated season. In 1969, they defeated Montana 30-3 in the West Bowl game to go undefeated once again. NDSU also won the 1970 West Bowl game, but Arkansas State, who was the winner of the Midwest Bowl game, won the championship that year.

Twelve long years later, the Bison are in the spot to win the championship again. It’s 1981 and after eight years of having the playoff format, the Bison are in the championship game against Southwest Texas State. NDSU came up short in a 42-13 loss. There were 9,415 in attendance in Veterans Memorial Stadium in McAllen, Texas. This would be the first of five years in this stadium.

Two years later, the Bison have a chance again. This time the ending was different. In 1983, under Don Morton, NDSU defeated Central State 42-21. Fourteen years since the Bison’s last championship, NDSU was able to bring the trophy home. There were 5,275 in attendance at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Just one year later the Bison would come up short in a loss to Troy State 18-17. The Herd would not be stopped from coming back very soon. 

In 1985 and 1986, NDSU would make it a back-to-back winning season, and four years in the National Championship game for Division II football. Both these championships came under the coaching of Earle Solomonson. Their first win in 1985 came against North Alabama with a score of 35-7. A 27-7 victory over South Dakota in 1986 would make the Bison National Champions two years in a row.

In 1988, the Bison were in the championship game once again. This time NDSU was playing under head coach Rocky Hager. The game was against Portland State. Not only were the Bison in the championship game, but they won it yet again with a score of 35-21. 

The last time NDSU would play for the Division II title would be in 1990. With another victory under coach Hager, the Bison defeated Indiana with the score of 51-11. 

The Bison football team joined Division I football in 2003. We know the rest of the story with the five straight Division I FCS National Championships.

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