Everything You Need to Know for North Dakota State-Montana

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Remember when you were a kid and on Christmas Eve, your parents allowed you to open one gift early? ESPN’s Week 0 showcase of two, high-level teams from the Football Championship Subdivision is kinda like that.

Saturday marks the second year the Worldwide Leader has kicked off a new season five days earlier than usual, putting the spotlight on the best of the FCS in the process.

Those who tuned into the inaugural, 2014 edition got acquainted with quarterback Vernon Adams, then at Eastern Washington. They also met the Eagles’ Inferno.

Last year’s viewing audience also took in a fast-paced, high-scoring and exciting football game between two national championship contenders. Both Eastern Washington and Sam Houston State went deep into the FCS Playoffs, as they have routinely for the last half-decade.

The 2015 Week 0 showcase features two teams that aren’t just championship contenders in the season to come. North Dakota State-Montana is a showdown of two of premier representatives of the FCS.

America knows North Dakota State. The Bison are winners of four consecutive national titles, the fourth of which was won last year in a dramatic, come-from-behind defeat of Illinois State.

North Dakota State’s also known for its annual upset of an FBS opponent, and oftentimes a foe from the Power Five. Last year’s victim was Iowa State; the year before, Kansas State.

The Bison have no FBS competition on the slate this year; Montana is NDSU’s marquee nonconference opponent.

Before North Dakota State stormed onto the scene, not long after moving up from Div. II, Montana set a standard for consistency in FCS and Div. I-AA.

The Griz dominated the Big Sky Conference, winning the league title for almost two solid decades from the mid-1990s to 2010. Their apex came with a national title in 2001.

First-year head coach Bob Stitt brings his twist on the uptempo, air-raid offense to Missoula. With it comes hope of Montana recapturing the FCS title that eluded it in such close calls as 2008 and 2009.

To borrow a line from great American philosopher Ric Flair: To be the man, you gotta beat the man.

North Dakota State, as the four-time champion, is very much The Man. There’s no better measuring stick for Montana than this.

Click the page numbers below to study up for the first college football game of the 2015 season.