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No. 1 NDSU vs No. 3 EWU: NCAA D1 Football Championship Open Game Thread

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Chris Klieman leads the Bison for one final time before heading south to Manhattan.

NCAA Football: DI Football Championship
Will Klieman lead the Bison to won more title before he heads south?
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The North Dakota State Bison are in Frisco, TX today chasing two different pieces of FCS history.

First, with a win over the Eastern Washington Eagles, the Bison would claim the sole lead spot for most NCAA D1 Football Championships — a spot they currently hold in a tie with now-FBS member Georgia Southern with 6 total.

Second, a win today would give Chris Klieman his fourth title which would move him out of a second-place tie, with his former boss Craig Bohl as well as Hall of Fame coaches Jerry Moore and Erk Russell, and into a first-place tie with a coach that Kansas State Wildcats fans will hope serves as a great corollary: Jim Tressel, who led Youngstown State to four titles before moving up to Ohio State.

Today’s match-up also serves as an interesting book-end of sorts. When NDSU’s title run started in 2011 — a run that has seen them win six of the last seven titles — the reigning champion was Eastern Washington, fresh off their own first championship title. And while EWU has been a powerhouse in the Big Sky the last decade, the two teams have never faced off in the D1 playoffs.

On to the game itself, you’ll see a match-up of two different styles of football. NDSU runs a slower, more methodical offense and rank 11th in the nation averaging 32 minutes of possession per game. OC Courtney Messingham’s offense is built to wear down opponents with a balanced run game and an efficient passing attack. On the other side, EWU is a quick-hit, big-threat offense that looks to push the tempo behind their own balanced attack. Both teams average over 40 points per game, so the real key will be which defense can give their offense just one more possession, and which offense can avoid empty possessions.

For Wildcat fans watching today’s game, this will be an opportunity to see how Klieman’s defense fares against the style of attack that he will see in the Big 12 on a regular basis, as well as how his offense could potentially handle being down against that style of team.

Today’s NCAA D1 Football Championship kicks off at 11am CST at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX. You can watch today’s game on ESPN2 (and the ESPN app) with Taylor Zarzour (play-by-play), Matt Stinchcomb (analyst), and Kris Budden (sideline reporter) on the call. If you want to go all-in, pregame coverage begins at 10:30am on ESPNU, and the postgame trophy presentation will be streamed live on ESPN3.

If you can’t get to a TV, or you don’t get ESPN2, the game can be heard on the Peterson Farms Seed Bison Radio Network with third-year NDSU play-by-play voice Jeff Culhane joined by NDSU and Buffalo Bills hall of famer Phil Hansen and NDSU sideline reporter Jeremy Jorgenson; coverage beings at 10:30am. NDSU All Access offers free audio streaming on GoBison.com/allaccess and the NDSU Athletics mobile app. Live stats are available on NCAA.com. Follow @NDSUfootball on Twitter for game updates.