On Saturday, the North Dakota State Bison went to Iowa City to take on the 13th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes and came away with the upset victory, 23-21.
The Bison are a Division 1-AA powerhouse, winning five straight FCS National Championships, so beating a Division 1-A school shouldn’t make big news, but this is just another win in what is becoming an impressive trend for NDSU. Since 2010, the Bison have defeated six Division 1-A teams, going undefeated against elite level competition in that time. The other big time programs that have lost to North Dakota in that time? Kansas, Colorado State, Kansas State, Iowa State and Minnesota. Five of those teams belong to the “Power Five” group of conferences, who are supposed to be the best of the best.
D1-AA programs are supposed to be a win-win situation for both schools. The D1-A schools get an easy victory, while the small schools get a big payout, sometimes upwards of a million dollars, to help fund their athletic programs. However, what the Bison have been doing is unprecedented.
All time, the D1-A schools have a 82% victory rate against their AA competition, per Football Geography. North Dakota State on the other hand is 9-3 all time against 1A competition.
The win over Iowa marked only the fifth time in history in which an FCS/D1-AA school has defeated a team in the top 25. The most notable of those defeats is the Appalachian State victory over Michigan in the Big House in 2007. App. State has since moved up to D1-A ball.
D1-AA is just becoming too easy for this program. Even through coaching and quarterback changes, the Bison just keep on winning. They’ve lost just four conference games in five years and are pretty much the Alabama of D1-AA, and now, their effect can be felt at the NFL level.
Currently, nine players from NDSU are in the NFL, including 2nd overall pick Carson Wentz, who is the highest D1-AA player ever drafted in the NFL. Four players from last year’s team are in the league, including Colts 5th round pick Joe Haeg.
The bottom-line is that North Dakota State has to make this move soon, or else no D1-A team will sign up to play them, which means no revenue. And, in my opinion, the Bison could be a very successful team right away at the highest level, much like the previously mentioned Appalachian State. And clearly I’m not alone in that opinion. What they have been doing has been so impressive that they picked up 74 votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll… for the FBS level.
Through Appalachian State’s first 2+ seasons at the D1-A level, they are 19-9, a great number for a jump of that nature. There’s no reason to think that the Bison could do much better than that.
With talented skill players like quarterback Easton Stick (featured in photo), running back King Frazier and wide receiver Darrius Shepherd, the Bison have good weapons on the offensive side of the ball.
North Dakota State has proven their worth at the AA level, and now it’s time to start playing against the big boys at the highest level of college football to prove how good they really are.
Cover Photo via CollegFootballTalk