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In the FCS Huddle: NDSU needed perfection for satisfaction

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director/Senior Editor

Frisco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The toughest part of the North Dakota State season remained there the entire year.

Nothing was going to satisfy the Bison but perfection.

And perfect, they were. The Bison beat Towson, 35-7, on Saturday to capture a third straight FCS national championship and finish as the first unbeaten title winner since Marshall also went 15-0 in 1996.

"I think just having that target on your back the whole year," fifth-year senior quarterback Brock Jensen says, savoring an emotional end for a 24- member senior class. "You can't go into a game thinking that, 'All right, we're wearing the green and gold, we're the Bison, we're pretty good, so we're going to win.' You can't go into a game with that mentality because it'll come back and bite you just like it did the past couple years with our one-loss seasons.

"This year we had a goal that we wanted to go undefeated. We didn't have a goal to win the Missouri Valley (Conference title) or anything like that. That was our initial goal, but our main goal was to not lose a football game, period, and that's what we did.

"It's a pleasure to be a part of this."

Jensen, named the Most Outstanding Player of a second straight national championship game, finished his career with 48 wins - a record for an FCS quarterback. Overall, the Bison are 43-2 the last three seasons and their senior class was 52-7 with four straight trips to at least the FCS quarterfinals.

FCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME STORY

North Dakota State 35, Towson 7:

http://tinyurl.com/ok8dv7d

GAME BALLS

Offense - Jensen, the North Dakota State record-setting quarterback, was 13- for-18 for 135 yards and one touchdown pass along with one rushing touchdown while earning the Most Outstanding Player award for the second straight national championship game. But senior left tackle Billy Turner gets a shout- out for leveling Towson defenders at every turn.

Defense - Junior linebacker Travis Beck, who was the MOP in the Bison's 2011 title win, collected a game-high nine tackles, including four solos.

Co-Special Teams - Sure, a blocked punt in the second quarter helped turn the game for North Dakota State, but the punters on both teams were stellar. For NDSU, Ben LeCompte averaged 50.5 yards on four punts, placing two inside the Towson 20 with a long of 66 yards. For Towson, Jake Ryder placed two of his five punts inside the Bison 20 with a 44.2-yard average and a long of 53 yards.

THE NEW SHERIFF

Departing North Dakota State football coach Craig Bohl basically heads off to Wyoming with the keys to the City of Frisco - that's what three straight national championships will do for the two-time Eddie Robinson Award recipient.

His now-former defensive coordinator Chris Klieman doesn't have it so bad. The 46-year-old has been given the keys to the Bison's championship program. With the end of the 2013 FCS playoffs, Klieman has taken over as the new head coach.

"Well, I think it's important that everybody has got to coach to their own personality, that's certainly what I've done, along with Coach Klieman, the very best," Bohl said. "We'd like to think our football program is in a different place than what it was 11 years ago and the one thing we've always strived to do is leave a program better than what it was when we first got here, so I want to wish Coach Klieman the very best and just keep it going."

FUN FACT OF THE PLAYOFFS

Incredibly, Towson's playoff run came against the top four among quarterbacks in the Walter Payton Award voting for FCS player of the year. In fact, Towson opponents Jimmy Garoppolo (the award winner) of Eastern Illinois, Vernon Adams of Eastern Washington, Jensen and Michael Nebrich of Fordham were in the top five of the overall voting. Towson running back Terrance West was the lone exception, finishing third.

GO WEST ... TO THE NFL?

Underclassmen from the FCS level rarely enter the NFL Draft, but Towson football coach Rob Ambrose and his program are bracing for that possibility with West.

Ambrose said his conversations with the junior tailback about the future will begin on Sunday.

"On the whole in almost all cases, I'm going to tell you that the history of an education and what it will do for the rest of your life in most cases, in almost all cases, is more important than a short-lived NFL career," Ambrose said. "But Terrance is also an older player. He was an older freshman, he was an older true freshman, and he's an older junior. It's not a question that Terrance has the talent to play at the next level. There's got to be a conversation about where he could actually go."

One scout told The Sports Network that West would be projected for the third round if he departs Towson early. West will turn 23 on Jan. 28.

His 2013 season is considered the best ever by an FCS running back. As Towson went 13-3, West finished with 2,509 rushing yards, 41 rushing touchdowns and 42 total touchdowns - all national single-season records.

CONFERENCE SCOREBOARD

It's still a Missouri Valley Conference nation because of the Bison Nation.

Records of the 11 FCS conferences in the FCS playoffs:

Missouri Valley - 5-1 (.833)

CAA - 6-3 (.667)

Big South - 2-1 (.667)

Ohio Valley - 4-3 (.571)

Southland - 2-3 (.400)

Big Sky - 2-4 (.333)

Patriot - 1-2 (.333)

Southern - 1-2 (.333)

Northeast - 0-1 (.000)

Pioneer - 0-1 (.000)

Mid-Eastern Athletic - 0-2 (.000)

PREDICTIONS

It's easy to bat 1.000 when North Dakota State is playing a game.

Championship Game Record: 1-0 (1.000)

Season Record: 636-222 (.741)

01/04 21:29:22 ET

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