NORTH DAKOTA STATE-MONTANA: PREDICTION
North Dakota State showed more vulnerability in its run to the 2014 national championship than at any other time during this historic dynasty.
There was the lopsided loss at Northern Iowa. Then, in the Playoffs, upstarts Coastal Carolina took the Bison to the brink in a quarterfinal matchup in the Fargodome. The defending champions later needed a final-possession rally to hold off Illinois State in the title game.
And still, NDSU finished the season 15-1.
The moral of the story is that until someone forcibly takes the belt from North Dakota State, the Bison are not ceding it.
North Dakota State will see numerous worthy contenders to its crown, both playing in the top-heavy MVFC and with the Week 1 trip to Montana.
Arguably the only venue more intimidating for visitors than Washington-Grizzly Stadium is the Fargodome. NDSU is on the right side of the cheers there. A raucous home crowd promises to make things challenging for the champs.
The energy in the stadium should carry over onto the field, where I anticipate Montana kicking off the Stitt era with an edge. But North Dakota State is uniquely equipped to weather such storms, as it did a year ago against challengers Coastal Carolina and Illinois State.
The Bison’s style wears opponents out through attrition. I expect Saturday to be no different, as a close first three quarters give way to a North Dakota State victory through the fourth.