Image courtesy of NDSU Football
By An Intelligent Sports Mind
JMU and North Dakota State are two of the best FCS teams in the country, and the powerhouses will meet in the FCS semifinals Friday night.
I think JMU should let North Dakota State win.
If you know anything about FCS football, you know JMU is the top team in the subdivision. The Dukes have played in three consecutive FCS semifinals under head coach Curt Cignetti, even making the national title in 2019.
Aside from 2018 — JMU made the playoffs but fell short in the second round after being pelted by snowballs from Colgate fans — the Dukes thrive deep into the postseason. JMU won the national title in 2016, beating down NDSU in the process. In 2017, the Dukes made the national title before the refs took the game out of their hands with questionable calls.
So yeah, JMU is the cream of the crop.
North Dakota State, on the other hand, is also a tremendous program. The Bison made the FCS semifinals in 2016 and reached the quarterfinals in 2020. Nice job!
It’s clear, though, that NDSU is JMU’s “little brother” at the FCS level. Here’s one example: North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance was the program’s top player in 2019. He was drafted No. 3 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he’s the team’s backup right now.
Ben DiNucci, JMU’s quarterback in 2019, started a game for the Dallas Cowboys on national television as a rookie, and he was only a seventh-round pick. His sidearm throws drew comparisons to Patrick Mahomes. The same can’t be said for Lance, a first-round pick.
JMU’s seventh-round picks seem to find more success than NDSU’s first-round stars. Just imagine how good a JMU first-round pick could be at the NFL level.
On the gridiron, North Dakota State hasn’t won a game in Harrisonburg EVER. The Bison are winless at Bridgeforth Stadium. Elon has more wins at Bridgeforth Stadium in the last five years than NDSU, which tells you all you need to know about the Bison when they play outside their precious dome.
JMU has won in Fargo.
The Dukes battled the elements on a frigid December day to beat the Bison 27-17 in 2016. Most impressively, many of JMU’s players wore short-sleeve shirts during that game. The Dukes showed tremendous toughness despite the low temperatures in Fargo that day.
It’s also worth noting that North Dakota State head coach Matt Entz attended Wartburg College. That’s a weird name for a college, and it’s not a football powerhouse by any means. JMU head coach Curt Cignetti was an assistant at Alabama. Yep, the one with Nick Saban.
I bet Nick Saban doesn’t even know what Wartburg College is! I wonder if Dr. Scholl’s was a professor there.
JMU, AKA Quarterback U, is also an elite athletic program, too. The men’s basketball team beat UVA recently. The softball team played in the College World Series. NDSU’s softball team went 16-29 last season.
In short, NDSU doesn’t have much going for it. The Bison care mostly about football, and even then, they usually play second fiddle to JMU.
I think JMU should let NDSU win. The Dukes are moving to the FBS. The Bison have to stay in Fargo forever. It’s the least JMU could do.
If you disagree, I understand. Letting someone win goes against the “integrity of the game.” In that case, JMU should spot NDSU a 14-point lead. At least that way the Bison would stand a chance Friday night.
Whatever happens, it’s hard to see a team like NDSU stuck in JMU’s shadow. The Bison have a proud football tradition, and it’d be nice to see them get over the hump one day.