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Anthony Chiusano | NCAA.com | July 30, 2020

North Dakota State football championships: A complete history

North Dakota State's football dynasty

No FCS program has claimed more national championships than North Dakota State football, winner of eight of the past nine titles. The Bison started their extraordinary run with a five-peat from 2011-15 and ended their decade of dominance with three more from 2017-19.

Here's everything to know about the Bison's dynasty, including season-by-season records, notable players and breakdowns of every one of NDSU's championship runs.

You can click or tap each of the links below to jump ahead to a section:

North Dakota State football quick facts

North Dakota State football played in Division II from 1922-2003 before jumping to the Division I-FCS level in 2004. NDSU qualified for its first FCS playoffs appearance in 2010, falling in the quarterfinals, before starting its run of five straight national titles from 2011-15.

Here is some key information to know about the program, updated through the end of the 2019-20 season:

Current coach: Matt Entz (16-0; one season)
Location: Fargo, North Dakota
Stadium: Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome
All-time record: 742-371-34 (fifth most in FCS history)
All-time FCS playoff record: 35-2 (8-0 in FCS national championship game)
NCAA championships: 16 (1965, 1968, 1969, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019)
FCS championships: 8 (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019)
MVFC conference championships: 9 (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)

FCS HISTORY: Schools with the most FCS titles | 9 winningest FCS programs all time

North Dakota State football statistical leaders

Here are the statistical leaders in North Dakota State football history. Stats are updated through the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. Updated college football stats can always be found here.

Passing yards:

  1. Easton Stick (2015-18): 8,693
  2. Brock Jensen (2010-13): 8,598
  3. Steve Walker (2004-07): 7,033
  4. Carson Wentz (2012-15): 5,115
  5. Kevin Feeney (1995-98): 4,757

Passing touchdowns:

  1. Easton Stick (2015-18): 88
  2. Brock Jensen (2010-13): 72
  3. Steve Walker (2004-07): 60
  4. Carson Wentz (2012-15): 45
  5. Kevin Feeney (1995-98): 37

Pass completion percentage:

  1. Trey Lance (2018-current): 67.0%
  2. Tony Stauss (2003-04): 66.3%
  3. Arden Beachy (1990-93): 64.8%
  4. Carson Wentz (2012-15): 64.1%
  5. Steve Walker (2004-07): 63.5%

Rushing yards:

  1. Lamar Gordon (1998-01): 4,696
  2. John Crockett (2012-14): 4,309
  3. Kyle Steffes (2003-06): 3,952
  4. Sam Ojuri (2009; 2011-13): 3,694
  5. Jake Morris (1994-97): 3,688

Rushing touchdowns:

  1. Jeff Bentrim (1983-86): 64
  2. Lamar Gordon (1998-01): 62
  3. Chris Simdorn (1987-90): 53
  4. Kevin Feeney (1995-98): 48
  5. Kyle Steffes (2003-06): 43

Pass receptions:

  1. Zach Vraa (2011-15): 195
  2. Darrius Shepherd (2015-18): 188
  3. Kole Heckendorf (2005-08): 178
  4. Travis White (2002-04; 2006): 163
  5. Warren Holloway (2008-11): 161

Receiving yards:

  1. Zach Vraa (2011-15): 2,957
  2. Darrius Shepherd (2015-18): 2,841
  3. Kole Heckendorf (2005-08): 2,732
  4. TR McDonald (1990-93): 2,544
  5. RJ Urzendowski (2014-17): 2,435

Receiving touchdowns:

  1. Zach Vraa (2011-15): 28
  2. Tim Strehlow (1996-99): 26
  3. Len Kretchman (1985-88): 24
    T-4. RJ Urzendowski (1990-93): 22
    T-4. TR McDonald (1990-93): 22

Total tackles:

  1. Jim Dick (1982-86): 412
  2. Rick Budde (1973-76): 403
  3. Sean Fredricks (1994-97): 380
  4. Carlton Littlejohn (2011-14): 345
  5. Steve Nelson (1971-73): 338

Sacks:

T-1. Jerry Dahl (1973-74): 35.5
T-1. Kyle Emanuel (2011-14): 35.5
3. Phil Hansen (1987-90): 35
4. Greg Menard (2014-16; 2018): 33.5
5. Derrek Tuszka (2016-19): 29.5

Interceptions:

1. Marcus Williams (2010-13): 21
2. Robbie Grimsley (2015-18): 17
T-3. Steve Krumrei (1967-69): 16
T-3. Tre Dempsey (2014-17): 16
5. James Hendricks (2016-19): 14

North Dakota State football: NFL Draft picks

North Dakota State has had 35 NFL draft picks since 1965. Here are the nine former Bison to be selected since 2004, NDSU's first season as an FCS program. 

DRAFT YEAR PLAYER ROUND PICK POSITION NFL TEAM
2005 Robert Hunt 5 165 C Indianapolis Colts
2008 Joe Mays 200 LB Philadelphia Eagles
2009 Nicholas Schommer 7 242 DB Tennessee Titans
2014 Billy Turner 3 67 OT Miami Dolphins
2015 Kyle Emanuel 5 153 LB Los Angeles Chargers
2016 Carson Wentz 1 2 QB Philadelphia Eagles
2016 Joe Haeg 5 155 OT Indianapolis Colts
2019 Easton Stick 5 166 QB Los Angeles Chargers
2020 Derek Tuszka 7 254 DE Denver Broncos

North Dakota State football stats, records

Below are some of the most impressive stats and records from North Dakota State's dynasty.

  • With its 2019 national championship, NDSU now has two more FCS titles than any other school — Georgia Southern is next with six. 
  • The Bison have the most regular season and playoff wins among FCS teams since 2010. They're 35-2 all-time in FCS playoff games, including 12 straight wins since their last loss in the 2017 semifinals to James Madison.
  • NDSU will carry an FCS-record 37-game winning streak into 2020, a span that has covered the past three national championships. The Bison held the previous record for consecutive wins as well, winning 33 straight from 2012-14. 
  • North Dakota State is one of five FCS programs to win titles in at least two consecutive seasons, and the Bison own the longest streak at five in a row (2011-15). Appalachian State (2005-07), Georgia Southern (1985-86,1989-90, 1999-00) and Youngstown State (1993-94) are the other schools to repeat.
  • North Dakota State has gone undefeated in three of its eight national championship seasons. NDSU finished 15-0 in 2013 and 2018 and went 16-0 in 2019. The 2019 Bison became the first DI college football program to finish a season 16-0 since 1894 Yale.
  • NDSU has won six straight games against FBS teams since 2010. The streak started with a 6-3 win at Kansas in 2010. They then beat Minnesota (37-24 in 2011), Colorado State (22-7 in 2012), Kansas State (24-21 in 2013), Iowa State (34-14 in 2014) and No. 13 Iowa (23-21 in 2016), all on the road.
  • Despite all of North Dakota State's team success this decade, it took until 2019 for NDSU to nab its first Walter Payton Award winner. Quarterback Trey Lance won the hardware as the most outstanding FCS offensive player after leading the nation in passing efficiency while accounting for 41 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Lance was the first freshman to win the award.

WALTER PAYTON AWARD: Complete history of the FCS top offensive honor

North Dakota State football season records

Here's how North Dakota State football finished in each of its seasons as a Division I FCS program.

SEASON COACH RECORD CONFERENCE RECORD SEASON RESULT
2004 Craig Bohl 8-3 4-2 (Great West) Ineligible for playoffs
2005 Craig Bohl 7-4 3-3 (Great West) Ineligible for playoffs
2006 Craig Bohl 10-1 4-0 (Great West)* Ineligible for playoffs
2007 Craig Bohl 10-1 3-1 (Great West) Ineligible for playoffs
2008 Craig Bohl 6-5 4-4 (Missouri Valley) Missed playoffs
2009 Craig Bohl 3-8 2-6 (Missouri Valley) Missed playoffs
2010 Craig Bohl 9-5 4-4 (Missouri Valley) Quarterfinals
2011 Craig Bohl 14-1 7-1 (Missouri Valley)* National champions
2012 Craig Bohl 14-1 7-1 (Missouri Valley)* National champions
2013 Craig Bohl 15-0 8-0 (Missouri Valley)* National champions
2014 Chris Klieman 15-1 7-1 (Missouri Valley)* National champions
2015 Chris Klieman 13-2 7-1 (Missouri Valley)* National champions
2016 Chris Klieman 12-2 7-1 (Missouri Valley)* Semifinals
2017 Chris Klieman 14-1 7-1 (Missouri Valley)* National champions
2018 Chris Klieman 15-0 8-0 (Missouri Valley)* National champions
2019 Matt Entz 16-0 8-0 (Missouri Valley)* National champions

*Won at least a share of conference championship

FCS FACTS: Everything you need to know about the FCS Championship | Complete championship history

North Dakota State football championship season breakdowns

2011 North Dakota State (14-1)

Tom Pennington | Getty Images NDSU football 2011

 

Regular season:

  • North Dakota State 42, Lafayette 6
  • North Dakota State 56, St. Francis 3
  • North Dakota State 37, Minnesota (FBS) 24
  • North Dakota State 20, Illinois State 10
  • North Dakota State 9, Southern Illinois 3
  • North Dakota State 51, Missouri State 21
  • North Dakota State 38, South Dakota State 14
  • North Dakota State 27, Northern Iowa 19
  • North Dakota State 27, Indiana State 16
  • Youngstown State 27, North Dakota State 24
  • North Dakota State 37, Western Illinois 21

FCS playoffs:

  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 26, James Madison 14 (FCS Second Round)
  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 24, Lehigh 0 (FCS Quarterfinals)
  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 35, No. 3 seed Georgia Southern 7 (FCS Semifinals)
  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 17, No. 1 seed Sam Houston State 6 (FCS Championship)

North Dakota State's first national championship run came in its second FCS playoff appearance, as the Bison earned the No. 2 overall seed in the 20-team postseason bracket. NDSU lost just once on the year, in the penultimate game of the regular season against Youngstown State, and dominated in the playoffs, allowing just 27 points in four games.

The defense shined brightest in the national championship game, holding top seed Sam Houston State's offense — entering with an FCS-best 39 points per game — to two field goals. Linebacker Travis Beck was named most outstanding player with seven total tackles and a 63-yard interception return. 

On offense, NDSU quarterback Brock Jensen finished with two total touchdowns, including a 1-yard rushing score with 8:45 remaining in the fourth quarter to ice the game.

"Our guys wanted to make sure we returned Bison football to national prominence. It's not easy to do. I want to thank them because today we returned Bison football to national prominence," NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said after the game.

2012 North Dakota State (14-1)

Tom Pennington | Getty Images 2012 NDSU football

 

Regular season:

  • North Dakota State 52, Robert Morris 0
  • North Dakota State 22, Colorado State (FBS) 7
  • North Dakota State 66, Prairie View A&M 7
  • North Dakota State 33, Northern Iowa 21
  • North Dakota State 48, Youngstown State 7
  • Indiana State 17, North Dakota State 14
  • North Dakota State 54, South Dakota 0
  • North Dakota State 23, Southern Illinois 17
  • North Dakota State 21, Missouri State 17
  • North Dakota State 20, South Dakota State 17
  • North Dakota State 38, Illinois State 20

FCS playoffs:

  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 28, South Dakota State 3 (FCS Second Round)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 14, Wofford 7 (FCS Quarterfinals)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 23, No. 5 seed Georgia Southern 20 (FCS Semifinals)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 39, Sam Houston State 13 (FCS Championship)

North Dakota State ran for 300 yards and Jensen had three rushing scores as the Bison pulled away from Sam Houston State for the second straight year in the national championship game. 

Tied at 10 at halftime, NDSU outscored SHSU 29-3 over the final two quarters. Jensen put the Bison in front for good with a 1-yard score midway through the third quarter. Running back Sam Ojuri (92 yards) also scored two second half touchdowns.

North Dakota State became the first FCS school to repeat as national champion since Appalachian State's three-peat from 2005-07.

2013 North Dakota State (15-0)

Peter Lockley | NCAA Photos NDSU 2013

 

Regular season:

  • North Dakota State 24, Kansas State (FBS) 21
  • North Dakota State 56, Ferris State 10
  • North Dakota State 51, Delaware State 0
  • North Dakota State 20, South Dakota State 0
  • North Dakota State 24, Northern Iowa 23
  • North Dakota State 41, Missouri State 26
  • North Dakota State 31, Southern Illinois 10
  • North Dakota State 56, Indiana State 10
  • North Dakota State 28, Illinois State 10
  • North Dakota State 35, Youngstown State 17
  • North Dakota State 42, South Dakota 0

FCS playoffs:

  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 38, Furman 7 (FCS Second Round)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 48, Coastal Carolina 14 (FCS Quarterfinals)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 52, New Hampshire 14 (FCS Semifinals)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 35, No. 7 seed Towson 7 (FCS Championship)

North Dakota State had its first perfect season of the FCS era in 2013, going 15-0 en route to its third straight national title. NDSU became the first undefeated FCS champion since 1996 Marshall.

The top-seeded Bison cruised past 7-seed Towson in the title game, scoring 28 unanswered points from the second quarter on. Four different NDSU rushers recorded a touchdown, paced by John Crockett (86 yards) and Ojuri (84). Jensen finished 13-of-18 passing with two total touchdowns. He was named the game's most outstanding player for a second straight year.

"It gets better every time. Definitely," Jensen told reporters after the game, according to the AP. "That was the last time I'll put on a Bison jersey but man, it's been a fun ride."

The championship game win marked North Dakota State's 24th straight win, then tying the all-time FCS record. That streak would end at 33 the following season, which now ranks second behind NDSU's current run of 37 consecutive wins entering 2020-21.

2014 North Dakota State (15-1)

Jamie Schwaberow | NCAA Photos NDSU 2014

 

Regular season:

  • North Dakota State 34, Iowa State (FBS) 14
  • North Dakota State 24, Weber State 7
  • North Dakota State 58, Incarnate Word 0
  • North Dakota State 22, Montana 10
  • North Dakota State 17, Western Illinois 10
  • North Dakota State 38, Southern Illinois 10
  • North Dakota State 34, Indiana State 17
  • North Dakota State 47, South Dakota 7
  • North Dakota State 37, South Dakota State 17
  • Northern Iowa 23, North Dakota State 3
  • North Dakota State 45, Missouri State 10
  • North Dakota State 38, Youngstown State 14

FCS playoffs:

  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 27, South Dakota State 24 (FCS Second Round)
  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 39, No. 7 seed Coastal Carolina 32 (FCS Quarterfinals)
  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 35, Sam Houston State 3 (FCS Semifinals)
  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 29, No. 5 seed Illinois State 27 (FCS Championship)

Carson Wentz took the reins from Jensen in 2014, following the latter's graduation, and led North Dakota State to an unprecedented fourth straight FCS championship. Wentz finished his first year as starter with 3,111 passing yards, 25 passing touchdowns and six rushing scores. 

Three of No. 2 seed NDSU's four playoff games were decided by one score, including the national championship game against 5-seed Illinois State. The Bison trailed 27-23 after two straight ISU touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Wentz responded with the game-winning 5-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left to give NDSU a 29-27 win.

Wentz was named most outstanding player after completing 15-of-22 passes and recording two touchdowns.

"With our guys, I never saw any doubt in their mind," first-year North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman told reporters. "The way it went back and forth on this kind of stage was pretty special."

2015 North Dakota State (13-2)

Jamie Schwaberow | NCAA Photos NDSU 2015

 

Regular season:

  • Montana 38, North Dakota State 35
  • North Dakota State 41, Weber State 14
  • North Dakota State 34, North Dakota 9
  • North Dakota State 28, South Dakota State 7
  • North Dakota State 31, Northern Iowa 28
  • South Dakota 24, North Dakota State 21
  • North Dakota State 28, Indiana State 14
  • North Dakota State 35, Southern Illinois 29
  • North Dakota State 59, Western Illinois 7
  • North Dakota State 27, Youngstown State 24
  • North Dakota State 55, Missouri State 0

FCS playoffs:

  • No. 3 seed North Dakota State 37, Montana 6 (FCS Second Round)
  • No. 3 seed North Dakota State 23, Northern Iowa 13 (FCS Quarterfinals)
  • No. 3 seed North Dakota State 33,  No. 7 seed Richmond 7 (FCS Semifinals)
  • No. 3 seed North Dakota State 37, No. 1 seed Jacksonville State (FCS Championship)

CLICK FOR FULL 2015 FCS PLAYOFF BRACKET

Wentz broke his wrist in October and missed eight weeks in 2015, leaving freshman Easton Stick to step in under center to lead the Bison to a fifth straight FCS championship game appearance in Frisco. 

After Stick paced NDSU to an 8-0 record as a starter, including three playoff wins, Wentz returned from injury to start the Jan. 9 title game against No. 1 overall seed Jacksonville State. The Bison capitalized on four straight scoring drives to open the game and pulled away 37-10 for title No. 5.

Wentz finished his final collegiate game 16-of-29 with a passing touchdown and two rushing scores en route to being named most outstanding player again. He was selected as the No. 2 overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles three months later in the 2016 NFL Draft.

2017 North Dakota State (14-1)

Justin Tafoya | NCAA Photos NDSU 2017

 

Regular season:

  • North Dakota State 72, Mississippi Valley State 7
  • North Dakota State 40, Eastern Washington 13
  • North Dakota State 56, Robert Morris 0
  • North Dakota State 38, Missouri State 11
  • North Dakota State 52, Indiana State 0
  • North Dakota State 27, Youngstown State 24 (OT)
  • North Dakota State 24, Western Illinois 12
  • North Dakota State 30, Northern Iowa 14
  • South Dakota State 33, North Dakota State 21
  • North Dakota State 49, South Dakota 14
  • North Dakota State 20, Illinois State 7

FCS playoffs:

  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 38, San Diego 3 (FCS Second Round)
  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 42, No. 7 seed Wofford 10 (FCS Quarterfinals)
  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 55, No. 6 seed Sam Houston State 13 (FCS Semifinals)
  • No. 2 seed North Dakota State 17, No. 1 seed James Madison 13 (FCS Championship)

FULL 2017 FCS PLAYOFF BRACKET

North Dakota State's remarkable title run came to a halt in 2016 with a semifinals loss in Fargo to eventual national champion James Madison. But the Bison regained the throne the following season, holding off JMU 17-13 in their next meeting for the 2017 FCS championship.

North Dakota State's defense held the top-seeded Dukes to a season-low 241 yards and 13 points, helped by three forced turnovers. On offense, Stick was an efficient 13-of-22 with a touchdown pass while running back Bruce Anderson had a team-high 63 rushing yards and a touchdown.

"One thing we talk about all the time is leaving a legacy," Klieman said after the game, according to the AP. "How are you going to be remembered? The 2017 Bison are going to be remembered as a group of guys that had great resolve, smacks adversity right in the face when adversity hit us and, lo and behold, we became national champions for the sixth time in seven years."

2018 North Dakota State (15-0)

Tim Nwachukwu | NCAA Photos NDSU 2018

 

Regular season:

  • North Dakota State 49, Cal Poly 3
  • North Dakota State 38, North Alabama 7
  • North Dakota State 38, Delaware 10
  • North Dakota State 21, South Dakota State 17
  • North Dakota State 56, Northern Iowa 31
  • North Dakota State 34, Western Illinois 7
  • North Dakota State 28, Illinois State 14
  • North Dakota State 59, South Dakota 14
  • North Dakota State 17, Youngstown State 7
  • North Dakota State 48, Missouri State 7
  • North Dakota State 65, Southern Illinois 17

FCS playoffs:

  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 52, Montana State 10 (FCS Second Round)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 35, Colgate 0 (FCS Quarterfinals)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 44, No. 5 seed South Dakota State 21 (FCS Semifinals)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 38, No. 3 seed Eastern Washington 24 (FCS Championship)

CLICK FOR FULL 2018 FCS PLAYOFF BRACKET

North Dakota State surpassed Georgia Southern for most titles in FCS history with its seventh in 2018. NDSU never trailed Eastern Washington in a 38-24 national championship game victory.

Stick made history in the win, becoming the program leader in passing yards (8,693) and the all-time FCS starting quarterback wins leader (49), surpassing Jensen in both categories. He finished with 319 offensive yards and five total touchdowns in his final game.

Stick's top target, Darrius Shepherd, was named the most outstanding player with five receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns. In the third quarter, Shepherd streaked down the sideline for a 78-yard touchdown catch, the longest of his career.

The win marked Klieman's fourth and final national championship in five years at the helm of the Bison. He was named Bill Snyder's successor at Kansas State prior to North Dakota State's semifinal matchup.

2019 North Dakota State (16-0)

Jamie Schwaberow | NCAA Photos NDSU 2019

 

Regular season:

  • North Dakota State 57, Butler 10
  • North Dakota State 38, North Dakota 7
  • North Dakota State 47, Delaware 22
  • North Dakota State 27, UC Davis 16
  • North Dakota State 37, Illinois State 3
  • North Dakota State 46, Northern Iowa 14
  • North Dakota State 22, Missouri State 0
  • North Dakota State 23, South Dakota State 16
  • North Dakota State 56, Youngstown State 17
  • North Dakota State 57, Western Illinois 21
  • North Dakota State 49, South Dakota 14
  • North Dakota State 21, Southern Illinois 7

FCS playoffs:

  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 37, Nicholls 13 (FCS Second Round)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 9, Illinois State 3 (FCS Quarterfinals)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 42, No. 5 Montana State 14 (FCS Semifinals)
  • No. 1 seed North Dakota State 28, No. 2 James Madison 20 (FCS Championship)

FULL 2019 FCS PLAYOFF BRACKET

The 2019 season marked a changing of the guard for North Dakota State with first-year head coach Matt Entz and redshirt freshman quarterback Trey Lance. But the end result was the same, with the Bison once again hoisting the trophy in Frisco.

NDSU defeated James Madison in the title game for the second time in three seasons, capping a second straight perfect season. The Bison became the first modern-era Division I football team to finish a single season 16-0.

Lance was most outstanding player in his first championship game appearance, finishing with 166 rushing yards, including a 44-yard touchdown run to put NDSU up 28-13 to start the fourth quarter. He only attempted 10 passes (6-of-10) as the Bison racked up 281 yards on the ground.

NDSU safety James Hendricks iced the win with a goal-line interception with seven seconds left. Hendricks also had eight tackles and a 20-yard touchdown run on a fake field goal in the first half.

2019 REWIND: Watch the full championship game | Extended highlights of NDSU's 8th title

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