North Dakota State vs James Madison in the national championship is the most appropriate ending for this year’s FCS college football season. You have the Bison, who ruled the FCS landscape from 2011 through 2015, winning five titles in a row, and then you have the Dukes, who finally put an end to that reign last year and now look ready to start a dynasty of their own. It’s the two best teams in the land battling for supremacy, and it makes for one of the most anticipated title games in FCS history.
Here’s everything you need to know to watch:
Live Stream Info
The championship is scheduled for Saturday, January 6, at Noon ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2. That means you can watch a live stream via WatchESPN if you have a cable log-in, but if you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the game online, on your phone or on another streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services. They cost a monthly fee but all come with a free trial, so you can watch both semis for free:
DirecTV Now: There are four main channel packages, and ESPN2 is included in all of them. It comes with a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, plus you can get $25 off your first month if you enter promo code “BDAY2017”. You can watch on your computer via your browser, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app
Sling TV: ESPN2 is included in the “Sling Orange” base package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial right here. You can watch on your computer via the Sling website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app
PlayStation Vue: There are four main channel packages, and ESPN2 is included in all of them. You can sign up for a free 5-day trial right here. You can watch on your computer via the PS Vue website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the PlayStation Vue app
Also note: You can also watch on your computer via the WatchESPN website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the WatchESPN app. When you’re asked to verify your cable provider, you’ll just use your DirecTV Now, Sling TV or PS Vue credentials to sign in
The Bison’s five-year national title run was ended last season with a 27-17 loss in the semifinals to James Madison, who went on to win the national championship and have now piled up 26 wins in a row overall, with just five of those games being decided by one possession. But while the Dukes have established themselves as the No. 1 team in the land, North Dakota State hasn’t fallen far behind, as they enter this one 13-1 and ranked No. 2 overall.
Unlike their FBS counterparts, there’s no debate about the championship. These are two best teams, and no one else deserves a spot in Frisco more. That was made painfully clear during the semifinals when both teams absolutely throttled their high-powered opponents. James Madison took down South Dakota State by a score of 51-16, while North Dakota State squeaked by Sam Houston State, 55-13.
Both of those games were microcosms of what each of these championship squads are all about: Establishing the run and dominating on defense. In the Dukes’ win, Marcus Marshall racked up 203 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries (interestingly enough, QB Bryan Schor also threw for exactly 203 yards and two scores–how’s that for balance?), while the defense forced an unfathomable 10 turnovers to contain a Jacks team that was averaging 38.8 points per game prior to that contest.
And on the other side of the bracket, it was more of the same. Led by Seth Wilson and Bruce Anderson, who each surpassed 180 yards on the ground, the Bison put up a ridiculous 471 total rushing yards and four touchdowns on 48 carries, and the defense held Sam Houston State to 32 points below their season scoring average.
“They believe in the system,” North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman said about his players. “They believe in each other. We’ve had a lot of former guys that have come back and talked to the guys about doing it for the guy next to you and doing it for the guys that have put the jersey on before you. That’s hard to find in college football these days, is sustained success for that long a period of time.”
Put it all together and you have an anticipated rematch between two dominant powerhouses who both player similar styles of smash-mouth football. And you have a national championship on the line. There’s lot of good football on over the next couple of days, but it’s going to be hard to top this–no matter the size of the schools involved.