Dukes’ Decade: Why JMU’s Recent Run is More Impressive Than NDSU’s

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

With the FCS National Championship just days away, NDSU fans are sure to find their way into your social media feeds. The Bison fans are among the best in football, and they know their stuff.

While there are a few bad apples online, NDSU fans are smart and savvy. They’re also very wrong about one thing: NDSU’s past decade of excellence.

JMU had a more impressive stretch than NDSU from 2010-19.

Yep, that’s right. Despite what NDSU fans say, JMU’s past decade was better than NDSU’s. Here’s why.

Let’s start with the obvious. The FargoDome. North Dakota State has an unfair advantage playing indoors.

The Bison have only lost one playoff game in the history of the FargoDome. Why? Because they’re so comfortable playing indoors, while other teams are used to battling the elements.

When JMU wins home playoff games, it comes in the natural elements of Bridgeforth Stadium. When Mickey Matthews invented football, he wanted the game played outside. That’s what JMU does.

Every week, the Dukes risk getting the common cold by playing outdoors. They brave the elements, even if that means getting rained on. North Dakota State, on the other hand, plays in an indoor climate similar to that of your local gym.

Imagine going to a hot yoga class. That’s the equivalent of what the Bison have done for the past 10 years on game day.

Stunningly, since 2011, only ONE team that plays its home games outdoors has won a national title. That’s right … it’s the JMU Dukes.

Let’s switch gears to a coaching anomaly that can only be described as an unfair advantage. Since 2011, seven of the eight national championship-winning head coaches were named either Chris or Craig. Only one, Mike Houston, was named Mike.

Interestingly, NDSU had coaches with the names Chris and Craig during their recent title runs. That helps explain much of the team’s success.

Now, let’s get to the selection committee bias. The selection committee loves North Dakota State. The Bison almost always receive a top-8 seed. Most of the time they earn a top-2 seed.

JMU, on the other hand, wasn’t seeded last season. The Dukes went on to lose to Colgate as an unseeded team. The Bison then blew out Colgate as the No. 1 seed.

Was NDSU better than JMU last season? Probably, but we’ll never truly know because they didn’t square off as seeded teams at a neutral venue.

The overall record in the previous decade makes NDSU seem like a better program. That’s a logical argument, but in two matchups last decade, JMU outscored NDSU 40-34. Numbers never lie.

North Dakota State is great. But when you start to dive into the facts (playing indoors, coaches with names that start with Cs, seeding advantages), it’s clear the Bison are a product of incredibly good fortunes.

As we head into 2020, remember that the 2010s belonged to the Dukes.


    1. This is the dumbest fcs article written in the last ten years. I regret the time I wasted reading this drivel.
      INDOORS!! That’s it??!!
      Please, for the love of God !
      Change careers!


  1. Really? The North Dakota State Bison have built an unprecedented football dynasty this decade.
    The biggest challenge after success is shutting up about it.
    Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.
    There’s no need to show off when you know who you are.


  2. Geez these JMU press are Clown’s not the fans…but the JMU press are brain dead. Let’s just use pure math over the past 8 years. National championships NDSU=7 — JMU=1.


  3. This article was good-natured and completely tongue-in-cheek. JMU fans, you have a program be proud of, and your team is going to give our Bison a great game. May the best team win. And to my Bison compatriots, please be one of those intelligent NDSU fans the author spoke of, and appreciate the humor as it was intended.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. NDSU practices outside 5 days a week… as I write this, it’s 10° in Fargo with 4 feet of snow on the ground.

    Was this guy drunk when he wrote this? You still have a few work days before the real drinking starts, my dude.


  5. Bennett,

    As a great of a writer you obviously thing you are, but you’re way off base on this one. All you’re doing is adding fodder for the NDSU fans and athletics/coaches. I’m guessing true JMU fans would rather see you say nothing and let the teams settle it on the field then in your written articles with your out of context statistics. Besides, since the 2010 decade really started in Jan-2010, not 2011, why leave Eastern Washington out of the picture? Seems they have the same title game record as the Dukes if I remember right, so shouldn’t that put them in the conversation just as well? In that they (E Washington) are also at one win and one lose in the title game just as is JMU. AND AN EVEN BIGGER PLUS is that they too play outdoors and in far worse weather conditions then the moderate climate of the games played in JMU’s stadium. I’m an FCS Fan and usually enjoy the banter between true FCS fans of all teams. But your nonsense does nothing to enhance the play and support offered by true fans of both JMU and NDSU. Better to keep your scribe about statistics off the paper and internet. If you know anything about true statistical data, you can “cherry pick” any data to make it speak along the terms you have displayed biased towards. Finally, if I remember right, Didn’t NDSU have the two longest Winning Streaks in FCS in the past 10 years, plus two of the longest “Road” winning streaks in the History of the FCS.

    In any case, enjoy your self-indulgences of reality on “facts”, while the rest of us will enjoy a truly great rivalry game between two of the best teams FCS has seen in a long long time.

    Bob S
    Command Sergeant Major
    US Army (Retired)


      1. I read his whole reply, and I can’t figure out if Bob is serious or went next level troll on you.

        It’s hilarious the amount of people who are responding to points you made yet apparently either don’t read carefully or think Mickey Matthews invented football.

        Fun article, and I thought it was a great early week contribution since we’re all just ready for gameday and there’s no point in rehashing matchups, analysis, etc. This post was a lot more fun to read.


  6. I enjoy satire quite a lot and this was fun to read. It would have been fun to see JMU play outside in 2016 as it was well below zero when that game kicked off at 6pm on Dec 16th plus a “gentle breeze” out of the NW at 3-33mph (thank you Too Tall).

    A bit of nit-picking on my part however, NDSU and JMU met 3 times in the past decade. In 2011 JMU had to go inside the Fargodome to play a playoff game on Dec 3rd. NDSU won 26-14 so NDSU outscored JMU 60-54 in 3 meetings.

    Good luck this week, I’m looking forward to another great game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re one of the few to notice we left out the 2011 game! I was hoping a few people would catch that. Looking forward to Saturday as well. It should be a blast. Can’t wait to watch Lance go up against the JMU defense. Should be great fun for both sides.


  7. It took a minute, but I get it… Football is a tough game and we all want our guys to win, but there is always room for good-natured humor! We love our Bison and always respect a worthy opponent – we are all looking forward to a great game Saturday. Good luck Dukes and Go Bison!🤘🏼🤘🏼


  8. I am a father of 2JMU grads. Also my nephew played on the 2004 Championship team. Love the Dukes and the football program. However I am a graduate of NDSU.

    You are probably a good politician as you have taken factual data and really put your spin on it. You stated that numbers don’t lie. They don’t but but you took all those numbers and came up with a spin that makes all the factual numbers lie. Enjoy the ride the Dukes are on as it is really terrific. However your article really shows your lack of knowledge on both football programs. Really no comparison. The Bison success includes another 8-9 division 2 National Champions. Football is a religion at NDSU and has been for decades. Just think they have 15 champions in the last 45 years. It is really something to behold. JMU football is great. But to say better than NDSs program does not make you look very knowledgeable on football. Many of those championships were prior to the Fargo dome. I doubt you really know what cold weather North Dakota style’ is really like. JMU is the sunny south compared to ND.

    I think JMU has a great chance to win Saturday but I will pull for the mighty Bison. Either way I will be happy!!!

    Enjoy the ride for the Dukes. It is great!!


  9. This was really funny and a great article. Apologies for the fans that don’t get it and kudos to those that do.
    This has turned into a great “one off” rivalry of two elite programs.
    Saturday is going to be a great game! Good Luck!


  10. Bennett,

    I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but you really missed the mark on this decade story. Most scholars and literary professionals like yourself, recognize that our current calendar system, used by the civilized world since 1492 when Christopher Columbus invented it, started with what is known as the year 1 AD. Prior to that the calendar didn’t include a 0 year but a countdown to 1 BC. I will not argue with the rest of the facts that you presented until I have time to further analyze, but I’ll look forward to your true “decade” story next year with updated stats from 2011-2020.

    Go Bison


  11. Bare knuckles, big boys, and tons of talent in both sides. Set up to be one off Hennessy ever. We can’t complain one way or another given we are so you and expected to Possibly come up Short of Frisco anyway. Gotta beat the best to be the best and until someone knocks the big dogs/bison off the porch for more than one game in 8 straight, it’s all chalkboard material.
    Good luck both teams and no injuries
    Go Bison


  12. This is hilarious. I totally expect a very difficult and close game. One team will have one big play that will definitely define this game


  13. Nice try! Entertaining though you may want to check your trophy case for an FCS Championship one from the last decade (or earlier)😁. Looking forward to the matchup of the 2 best teams in 2019 on Saturday! GO BISON!


  14. Great article! Excited for next weekend. Brace yourself for angry internet people who don’t understand satire.

    -Random NDSU fan


  15. I liked JMU after one of your alums published a “thank you for your hospitality” note in a letter to the editor in our local paper in 2011. Then your team got too good to be trusted so I wasn’t so sure anymore. This article put you back in the “good guys” column.

    Jokes aside, I think this will be a heck of a showdown.


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