Players say Bison, Wildcats present similar looks

The Championship Subdivision semifinal playoff game between

North Dakota State and New Hampshire will be the first meeting

between the schools.

Players on both sides say they have a lot in common.

The Bison (13-0) are seeking their third straight FCS title. The

Wildcats (10-4) are making their first appearance in the FCS

semifinals.

The winner will face either Towson or Eastern Washington in the

FCS championship Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas.

NDSU offensive lineman Billy Turner and New Hampshire defensive

back Manny Asam used the same words earlier this week to describe

the other team, such as disciplined, physical and well-coached.

Both teams pursue the ball and ”play through the whistle,” Turner

said.

”They’re kind of like us with the mindset that they come out,

they play hard and they try to get the job done,” Turner said.

Said Asam: ”It’s going to be a battle because we kind of rely

on the same kind of elements to make us successful.”

Those elements include stingy defense – NDSU is No. 1 in FCS in

fewest points allowed per game and New Hampshire is No. 14 – and

offenses that are effective, if not flashy.

The teams have been known to grind down their opponents,

especially the Bison. NDSU has held 12 of its 13 opponents

scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Something will have to give on Friday night, Bison offensive

lineman Zack Johnson said.

”We’re going to still try to wear them down, but from I’ve

seen, they don’t get worn down very easily,” Johnson said.

The All-American Turner, who earlier this week was invited to

the Senior Bowl, said New Hampshire will be the best team NDSU has

faced in this year’s playoffs.

He said the Wildcats go about their business quietly, unlike

NDSU’s opponents in the first two rounds.

”Coastal Carolina came in here and everyone was talking about

their offense,” Turner said. ”Furman was coming in here just

talking about, you know, they beat Georgia Southern, they beat

Wofford, they were going to get payback for their conference and

what not.

”Each team had something different to say, but I haven’t heard

anything out of New Hampshire yet,” he said.

The Wildcats advanced with wins over Lafayette, Maine and

Southeastern Louisiana. This will be their third straight game on

the road. NDSU hasn’t left town for a month.

The Bison are 9-0 overall at home in the FCS playoffs and have

won 10 straight home postseason games dating back to a 1992 victory

in the Division II tournament. NDSU’s 22-game winning streak is the

longest in Division I, ahead of 15 in a row by Florida State.

The ESPN-driven game day schedule for NDSU will be drastically

different from last week, when players met at 7:15 a.m. for the

pre-game meal in advance of an 11 a.m. kickoff. Friday’s game at

the Fargodome is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

”Friday night lights … this brings me back to the high school

days,” Bison All-American defensive back Marcus Williams said.

”There’s nothing better than playing under those lights in front

of that crowd.”

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