Numbers Never Lie: Bison, suffocating defense prevail again

6:53 PM, Jan 5, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - Winning a national title is difficult enough, but winning back-to-back national championships puts a team in rarified air.

The North Dakota State Bison became just the sixth team in FCS history since 1978 to win back-to-back national championships with their convincing, 39-13 victory over Sam Houston State on Saturday in Frisco, Texas.

The only other teams to repeat as national champs were Georgia Southern (three times - 1985-86, 1989-90 and 1999-00), Youngstown State (1993-94) and Appalachian State (three straight from 2005-07).

But before one even dreams about the 2013 season and a possible three-peat, it's important to recognize how the Bison were able to take home the crown in 2012.

Quite simply, the team's numbers never let them down. Especially on defense.

The Bison entered the game leading the FCS in scoring defense (11 points per game), total defense (223 yards per game), passing defense (131 yards per game) and first downs allowed (11.93 per game). Plus, it ranked second in defensive third down efficiency at 28.07 percent.

Certainly, in Saturday's victory, those numbers might have altered a little bit, allowing 391 yards of offense and 275 passing yards, but the defensive unit held Sam Houston State in check and, more importantly, out of the end zone just enough.

North Dakota State forced four turnovers - all of which were interceptions - and for the second year in a row, won the battle up front, limiting the Bearkats to a mere 116 rushing yards on 38 carries.

It was the lowest rushing total of the season for Sam Houston coach Willie Fritz's squad and only the second time that his team failed to score a rushing touchdown.

With the 2012 FCS football season now in the books, it's safe to say that every teams' success and failure directly relates to its numbers.

For all the promise in its teams, some things can never be ignored.

Whether it be scores, statistics or standout performances, the numbers never lie.

Here are some important figures from the 2012 FCS national championship game that should not be overlooked:

North Dakota State now has won a national title in consecutive seasons three times in program history. As a Division II program, the Bison won national championships in 1985 and 1986, and in 1968 and 1969 when championships and placings prior to 1973 were determined by UPI or AP polls.

NDSU is now 12-0 on the road and 28-2 over the last two seasons. Coach Craig Bohl has guided the Bison to a 10-1 all-time record in FCS playoff contests.

North Dakota State finished the game with 441 yards of offense, including 300 yards rushing and five touchdowns, after managing 199 total yards of offense at halftime. However, even at halftime, the Bison controlled the ground game, outrushing Sam Houston, 134 yards to 57.

After two quarters of play, Sam Houston State totaled 217 yards of offense, surpassing last year's national title game yardage total of 210 yards.

Sam Houston State has now totaled 211 rushing yards and zero touchdowns on 80 attempts in its last two games versus the Bison.

NDSU running backs John Crockett and Sam Ojuri both eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season. Crockett finished the game with 82 yards on 11 carries and averaged 16 yards per carry in the first half, while Ojuri rushed for a game-high 92 yards and two touchdowns. Crockett finished the season with 1,038 rushing yards and Ojuri finished with 1,047 on the ground.

Quarterback Brock Jensen only threw for 115 yards, but carried the ball eight times for 44 yards and three touchdowns. In 15 games this season, he scored 12 rushing touchdowns. The junior is now 32-5 as a starter in his career.

Sam Houston State junior quarterback Brian Bell passed for 255 yards and one touchdown, including 160 yards in the first half, but threw three interceptions, the first two resulting in 14 NDSU points.

The junior signal-caller threw two interceptions in last year's national title game. He entered the game having thrown seven interceptions this season, including only one in the team's last seven games.

NDSU came into the game as the FCS' No. 1-ranked passing defense, allowing just 131 passing yards per game.

All-America cornerback Marcus Williams intercepted two Bell passes to become NDSU's all-time career leader in interceptions. In the second quarter, Williams intercepted Bell for his sixth pick of the season and 17th in his career. In the fourth quarter, he capped off his junior season with his seventh interception of the season and 18th in his career. He entered the game tied with Steve Krumrei's school record of 16 set in 1969.

Sam Houston State's defense came into the game allowing just 84 rushing yards per contest and had allowed a total of just two rushing touchdowns versus FCS competition this season. The unit allowed a total of seven rushing touchdowns in 14 games this season before allowing five rushing touchdowns versus the Bison on Saturday.

NDSU came into the national championship game leading the FCS in time of possession with a 34:39 mark. Through two quarters of play, however, the Bison held onto the ball for just 12:38, but finished the contest holding onto the ball for a 30:13.

The Missouri Valley Conference now has an all-time record of 4-0 in FCS championship appearances versus Southland Conference foes. Youngstown State defeated McNeese State in 1997, Western Kentucky defeated McNeese State in 2002 and North Dakota State has now defeated Sam Houston State in back-to-back seasons (2011-12).

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