The most powerful dynasty in FCS football faces off against a worthy opponent as No. 2 North Dakota State plays No. 8 Montana State with a national championship on the line. The Bison have won eight national titles since 2011 and earned a trip to Frisco, Texas, after beating No. 3 James Madison, No. 7 East Tennessee State and Southern Illinois along the way. Bison coach Matt Entz is chasing his second national championship in three seasons.
Montana State earned trips to the playoffs in each of the past two seasons and posted consecutive years of playoff wins for the first time in program history; however, the Bobcats have not played for a championship since a 19-6 victory over Louisiana Tech in 1984. Running back Isaiah Ifanse has been the star of the team, rushing for 1,539 yards and 10 touchdowns to earn unanimous All-Big Sky honors.
North Dakota State actually ended the Bobcats’ last run in the playoffs in 2019 in the national semifinals with a 42-14 victory behind five touchdowns from eventual first-round pick Trey Lance. Will the result be different this time around? Here is how you can watch the FCS championship game along with storylines to know.
Montana vs. North Dakota State: Need to know
All-time dynasty: Before Sam Houston knocked NDSU off its perch during last year’s abbreviated spring season, the Bison had won an unprecedented eight championships in nine years under the direction of Craig Bohl, Chris Klieman and now Entz. NDSU has also produced eight NFL Draft picks since 2014, including two first-round quarterbacks in Lance and Carson Wentz.
Coaching change: The Bobcats lost former coach Jeff Choate before the 2021 season after he was hired as co-defensive coordinator at Texas. Brent Vigen has only built on Choate’s success, however, leading the program to a 12-2 season and an appearance in the national championship game. Vigen played at North Dakota State in the 1990s and was a coach under Bohl from 2003 onwards, ultimately earning associate head coach and offensive coordinator responsibilities in 2017 at Wyoming. Now, he hopes to lead his Bobcats over his alma mater.
Physical offense: North Dakota State has produced its fair share of NFL quarterbacks, but the trenches are where the Bison really stand apart. Offensive lineman Cordell Volson and Cody Mauch were both named AP All-Americans after paving the way for an offense that averaged 372.6 yards rushing per game and 6.1 yards per carry. Montana State linebacker Troy Andersen earned All-American honors of his own after posting 137 tackles and 14 tackles for loss in a breakout campaign, but the Bobcats will have their hands full against the talented NDSU offensive front.
How to watch FCS Championship live
Game: NCAA Division I FCS Championship Game
Date: Saturday, Jan. 8 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Toyota Stadium — Frisco, Texas
TV: ESPN2 | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
FCS Championship prediction, picks
Featured Game | North Dakota State Bison vs. Montana State Bobcats
The Bobcats have gone down a difficult path to reach the title game, but North Dakota State is a final boss unlike any other in FCS football. The Bison have never lost in Frisco, holding an 8-0 mark since the game moved to Texas. Montana State is up for the challenge, but NDSU is too battle-tested for a team making their first title game appearance since 1984. Prediction: North Dakota State (-7)