North Dakota State and Eastern Washington head into Saturday's FCS championship game flying high. They've outscored their postseason opponents by 33.3 and 19 points per game and account for 11 players on the STATS FCS All-American teams.
The amount of talent on each roster is obvious. But how do they stack up head to head?
Here's how each team compares statistically at individual positions and on team defense this season:
NDSU's Easton Stick is tied for the most wins in FCS history (48) and is the reigning FCS championship Most Outstanding Player. EWU's Eric Barriere is a first-time starter, stepping in midseason for an injured Gage Gubrud. Differences in experience aside, the two signal callers match up fairly evenly in the stat book.
|EASTON STICK (NDSU)||ERIC BARRIERE (EWU)|
Top running back
North Dakota State's rushing corps runs deep, which accounts for the difference in workload between NDSU's leading rusher Bruce Anderson and EWU's Sam McPherson. Five different Bison have at least 80 carries this year, led by Lance Dunn's 141. Dunn also paces the team with 12 rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, EWU's McPherson has twice as many rushing attempts and yards as any other Eagle.
|BRUCE ANDERSON (NDSU)||SAM MCPHERSON (EWU)|
Darrius Shepherd (5-11, 188 pounds) and Nsimba Webster (5-10, 180) are both big-threat receivers, averaging more than 16 yards per reception. Each player has 18 career touchdowns and was the clear No. 1 option in their respective offense this year. No other Bison eclipsed 20 catches or 400 yards — though tight end Ben Ellefson (eight touchdowns) is a reliable red zone target. For EWU, redshirt freshman Andrew Boston ranks second with 43 catches and 531 yards.
|darrius shepherd (NDSU)||nsimba webster (EWU)|
Both defensive units rank in the top five in interceptions and top 10 in turnover margin among all FCS teams. Only Colgate has allowed fewer points per game (9.3) than North Dakota State — in two fewer games. Eastern Washington has cut its points allowed per game mark by nearly two touchdowns from last season to rank in the top 20 nationally in 2018.
|NORTH DAKOTA STATE||EASTERN WASHINGTON|
Eastern Washington has a first-team All-American placekicker in Roldan Alconbendas, who is a perfect 15-of-15 on field goals and has only missed one extra point attempt in 69 tries. Both he and NDSU's Cam Pedersen have season-long field goals of 47 yards. Alconbendas has three 40+ field goal conversions while Pedersen has two.
|cam pederson (NDSU)||roldan alcobendas (EWU)|
There may not be too many punts Saturday with each team's offense rolling, but two of the FCS's elite punters will be on display. Alcobendas, the two-way special teamer, ranks second in the nation with his 44.9-yard average. NDSU's Garret Wegner isn't far behind in ninth place.
|GARRET WEGNER (NDSU)||ROLDAN ALCOBENDAS (EWU)|