2022 FCS National Championship Game Preview
North Dakota State is a perfect 8-0 in the FCS National Championship Game. The Bison have won eight of the last ten national championships at the FCS level, becoming the most successful program we have ever seen in the process. They are favored to beat the Montana State Bobcats this weekend for their ninth title, but the Bobcats have an elite defense that will limit NDSU’s chances on offense.
The North Dakota State Bison and Montana State Bobcats will meet for the FCS Championship on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN2 from Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
College Football Betting Odds
Montana State +7
North Dakota State -7
The Bison were as dominant as ever in 2021 after falling short last season. North Dakota State lost the Dakota Marker to South Dakota State, but the Bison largely handled the rest of the teams on their schedule. They earned the No. 2 seed in the FCS Playoffs and crushed Southern Illinois and East Tennessee State by a combined margin of 65-10 in the first two rounds. James Madison tested them in the semifinals, but the Bison emerged with a six-point win to make it back to Frisco.
Montana State has had a dream season. The Bobcats lost the Brawl of the Wild to rival Montana in their last regular season game, but they cruised past UT Martin 26-7 before pulling off two improbable upsets. They hammered defending national champion and No. 1 seed Sam Houston State 42-19 in the quarterfinals and upended South Dakota State by 14 points in the semifinals.
When North Dakota State Has the Ball
Cam Miller wrestled the starting quarterback job away from Virginia Tech transfer Quincy Patterson in late October. Miller hasn’t thrown more than 23 passes in a game for the Bison, but he hasn’t needed to do much more than provide a steady hand with this offense. He has completed 68.1% of his passes for 1,318 yards (9.6 YPA) with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions on the year, and he is also averaging 4.0 YPA.
The Bison run the ball more than almost any team in the FCS. North Dakota State ranks third in rushing YPG, and there are eight players that have run for at least 230 yards. Tamerik Williams is the leading rusher with 718 yards (6.2 YPC) and 12 touchdowns, and Kobe Johnson is close behind with 565 yards (5.6 YPC) and two scores. Christian Watson is the only receiver to watch with 39 receptions for 739 yards and seven TDs.
Montana State has the best defense in the FCS per Bill Connelly’s SP+. Troy Anderson was a First Team All-American at linebacker, and defensive end Daniel Hardy had 23 tackles for loss with 16 sacks. The defensive backs were great at bating quarterbacks into mistakes as well with 18 interceptions while conceding only 12 touchdown passes.
When Montana State Has the Ball
Tommy Mellott has etched his name in program lore with his performance this postseason. The freshman quarterback from Butte didn’t start a game this season until he was tapped as the starter ahead of the playoffs. Former starter Matthew McKay immediately announced that he was entering the transfer portal, leaving no room for error. Mellott has completed 26 of 50 passes for 461 yards and four touchdowns, and he has been an exceptional runner with 705 yards (6.4 YPC) and 10 rushing touchdowns.
There are two skill position players to watch on the Bobcats. Isaiah Ifanse was an All-American running back after running for 1,539 yards (5.9 YPC) and 10 touchdowns this season, while senior receiver Lance McCutcheon from Bozeman has 58 receptions for 1,113 yards and eight TDs.
The Bison have a very good defense. They are ranked third in total defense, and they have two rushers that can get to the quarterback in Brayden Thomas and Eli Mostaert.
Look for Montana State to keep this game close. The Bobcats have a defense that can stop the Bison’s run game, and that will also help this game go under the total.