FARGO, N.D. — 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.