Bison being fitted for FCS national championship rings for an

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Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The North Dakota State dynasty came Back 4 More. Or was it 4-peat in 14? Any of the unofficial slogans boasting the NDSUs extraordinary success remains appropriate with the Bison being fitted for FCS national championship rings for an unprecedented fourth straight season. Whats next for 2015, One For the Thumb? While it was tough enough for the Bison to win bragging rights from national runner-up Illinois State just within the Missouri Valley Football Conference, both programs figure to be near the forefront of the national scene again next season. FBS transfers, like what Illinois State gained in quarterback Tre Roberson after he came aboard last June, can change the direction of teams considerably, so a lot is subject to change in the coming months. But many of the familiar national powers will be among the FCS elite again in 2015 as the regular schedule drops back to 11 games after two seasons with a maximum of 12. For our early 2015 rankings, we were all set to go with a Sweet 16 to honor the college basketball season in full flight, but lets add in a plus-one to honor the FBS four-team playoff system, ahem, which just wrapped up. 17. McNeese State (2014 record: 6-5; 2014 final ranking: unranked) - Coach Matt Viator has never had a losing season with the Cowboys, but three straight losses to end a 6-5 campaign left a bad taste in everybodys mouth. Quarterbacks Daniel Sams and Tyler Bolfing will come back a year stronger and running back Ryan Ross should be a breakout star. The defense returns three of its top four tacklers, junior safety Brent Spikes and junior linebackers Wallace Scott and Bo Brown, who were All-Southland second-team selections. 16. Idaho State (8-4; No. 25) - The big question is, can the Bengals replace quarterback Justin Arias after he led the FCS in passing yards with a school- record 38 touchdown passes in 2014? Otherwise coach Mike Kramer has the returning talent to keep the momentum of this past season going. On offense, running back Xavier Finney and wide receiver Madison Mangum will continue to pile up yards and touchdowns. On defense, linebacker Mario Jenkins will continue to be all over the field. The Bengals didnt lose at Holt Arena in 2014, and in 2015 they get traditional Big Sky powers Eastern Washington, Montana and Montana State at home. They also will pay a visit to Boise State. 15. Eastern Illinois (5-7; unranked) - After Kentucky transfer Jalen Whitlow got acclimated at quarterback following the Panthers rough start to this past season, he became quite dangerous in their potent offense. His return along with a healthier Shepard Little at running back will have the Panthers challenging Jacksonville State in the OVC, and this time they will host the Gamecocks in Charleston. Coach Kim Dameron will have key players returning on defense in all-conference linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill and safety Jourdan Wickliffe as well as defensive tackle Dino Fanti. 14. James Madison (9-4; No. 18) - It might sound strange but Walter Payton Award winner John Robertson of Villanova isnt a sure thing for the All-CAA first team. Thats how strong Dukes signal caller Vad Lee played during the second half of the conference schedule this past season. But with the Dukes losing a lot of key seniors, they will need some of the young talent, like Khalid Abdullah, linebackers Rhakeem Stallings and Gage Steele and cornerback Jimmy Moreland, to rise to a higher level of play. 13. Liberty (9-5; No. 17) - The returning list of seniors on offense is impressive, including the likes of quarterback Josh Woodrum, running back D.J. Abnar, wide receiver Darrin Peterson, lineman Jonathan Burgess and long-range place-kicker John Lunsford. Coach Turner Gills squad will need it for a schedule that includes two FBS opponents - West Virginia and Georgia State - and three likely Top 25 teams coming to Lynchburg in Montana, James Madison and Coastal Carolina. The defense must regroup after plenty of key losses, but defensive tackle Chima Uzowihe is a good start. 12. Northern Iowa (9-5; No. 10) - Perhaps like 2012, UNI may not overcome a brutal early season schedule, this time with trips to Iowa State, Cal Poly, Illinois State and North Dakota State and a home game against Eastern Washington all packed within the first five games. Coach Mark Farley better hope some new leaders will raise their play, perhaps running back Darrian Miller for All-American David Johnson. Theres still the choice of talented quarterbacks in Brion Carnes and Sawyer Kollmorgen, and place-kicker Michael Schmadeke is automatic within the UNI-Dome. The defense will feature linebacker Brett McMakin as well as Tim Kilfoy and Deiondre Hall in the secondary 11. Montana State (8-5; No. 20) - Dual-threat quarterback Dakota Prukop was sensational before he suffered a late-season knee injury. Much of the junior-to-bes offensive line will be back, as are some versatile playmakers, including Gunnar Brekke. But the Bobcats must get better on defense or coach Rob Ashs Big Sky squad wont have much of a chance to go far in the postseason. The regular-season finale versus rival Montana will be at home in Bozeman. 10. Chattanooga (10-4; No. 8) - The Mocs will end the season at Florida State, and they hope to land a third straight Southern Conference title leading into the matchup. Quarterback Jacob Huesman will chase a third straight conference offensive player of the year award while opponents chase after him. Despite the loss of defensive end Davis Tull, who won three consecutive defensive player of the year awards in the SoCon, the defense will be strong with a lock-down secondary featuring Cedric Nettles, Dee Virgin and Lucas Webb. 9. Villanova (11-3; No. 7) - There isnt much more individual hardware for quarterback John Robertson (2014 Walter Payton Award, 2014 CAA Offensive Player of the Year, 2012 Jerry Rice Award) to win as a senior, so his goal will be to lead the Wildcats to the CAA title. Kevin Gulyas returns as his big-play wide receiver. On defense, Don Cherry gives the Wildcats the best linebacker in the conference, and Dillon Lucas is a nice complement. Once again, the Wildcats arent scheduled to play New Hampshire, the 2014 CAA champion. But they will take on Connecticut in non-conference action. 8. New Hampshire (12-2; No. 3) - Coming off back-to-back appearances in the national semifinals, the CAA Football champion must replace an outstanding senior class, led by wide receiver R.J. Harris. Still, coach Sean McDonnell will get back some terrific players in quarterback Sean Goldrich, linebacker Akil Anderson and cornerback/returner Casey DeAndre. The Wildcats will go all the way to San Jose State to open their season and figure to be more vulnerable than they were while reaching a No. 1 ranking this past season. 7. Youngstown State (7-5; No. 22) - Bo Pelini didnt win enough to satisfy everybody at Nebraska, but he steps into a ready-to-win situation at Youngstown State as the Penguins go after their first playoff appearance since 2006. Many of the teams best players will be back, including quarterback Hunter Wells, running backs Martin Ruiz and Jody Webb, wide receiver Andrew Williams, defensive ends Derek Rivers and Terrell Williams (who combined for 24 sacks), and linebacker Dubem Nwadiogbu. The Penguins beat Pittsburgh in 2012 and will take another shot at the Panthers to open the 15 season. 6. Coastal Carolina (12-2; No. 5) - Monumental success in the last two seasons (back-to-back 12-win campaigns) is making it harder for coach Joe Moglias Big South power to fill non-conference dates. Few opponents are anxious to face dual-threat quarterback Alex Ross and 1,500-yard running back DeAngelo Henderson. The defense will have to adjust to not having linebacker Quinn Backus, who won the last three Big South defensive player of the year awards, but the front four, led by end Roderick Holder, will be outstanding. No doubt, the Chanticleers biggest game will be at Liberty to close the regular season. 5. Jacksonville State (10-2; No. 9) - This seasons early playoff exit as the No. 3 seed should motivate the Ohio Valley Conference champion Gamecocks throughout the offseason. They will return many key players despite the loss of running back DaMarcus James. Troymaine Pope and Miles Jones saw plenty of action behind James, and quarterback Eli Jenkins will keep developing behind what will be a veteran offensive line. OVC defensive player of the year Devaunte Sigler, LaMichael Fanning and Chris Landrum form an intimidating defensive line, and Jermaine Hough is a standout cornerback. Coach John Grass squad will test itself in opening the season at Chattanooga and Auburn. 4. Sam Houston State (11-5; No. 6) - The Bearkats started only four seniors in the national semifinals, so coach K.C. Keeler will have a tremendous returning roster for his second season in Huntsville. If he adds a few FBS transfers, which is usually the case, a Southland Conference crown may not be the only title they win in 2015. Dual-threat quarterback Jared Johnson kept getter better this past season, and so did some of his favorite receivers (Yedidiah Louis and LaDarius Brown). Defensive end P.J. Hall, who finished with 30 tackles for loss as a freshman, scared all of the opponents. Even season- opening opponent Texas Tech will be leery of him. 3. Eastern Washington (11-3; No. 4) - What quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. can accomplish as a senior is a scary thought. But the two-time runner-up for the Walter Payton Award and All-American wide receiver Cooper Kupp are going to have to keep scoring in bunches until the Eagles defense proves it is much improved. Allowing 59 points to Illinois State in the national quarterfinals left some doubt. The schedule is as difficult as ever for the three-time defending Big Sky champions, including Oregon, Northern Iowa, Idaho State and Montana on the road, and Montana State (as a non-conference matchup again) and Cal Poly at home. 2. Illinois State (13-2; No. 2) - The FCS runner-up will return the nations best 1-2 offensive punch in quarterback Tre Roberson and national rushing leader Marshaun Coprich, but the rest of the offense was senior-laden this past season, so the Redbirds will need to fill some holes (three of the five starters on the offensive line depart). An athletic defense gets back ends Teddy Corwin and David Perkins and leading tackler Pat Meehan at linebacker. Coach Brock Spacks team will have road games against Iowa and Eastern Illinois, but the Redbirds havent lost at home since 2012. They will be in the mix for both the Missouri Valley Conference and national titles again. And guess who with ... 1. North Dakota State (15-1; No. 1) - Sure, the senior losses (expected to be 15) are significant again this offseason, including running back John Crockett and a host of top defensive players led by Buck Buchanan Award winner Kyle Emanuel, but didnt it appear this time a year ago that another team would be on top at the end the 2014 season? For a change, the Bison offense might be better than the defense. The power running game will be there with quarterback Carson Wentz and running back King Frazier working behind an outstanding offensive line, and wide receivers Zach Vraa and RJ Urzendowski will form a dynamite duo. Starting cornerbacks Jordan Champion and C.J. Smith will allow some new leaders, including defensive tackle Nate Tanguay and linebacker Nick DeLuca, to emerge into the defensive spotlight. The Bison open at Montana and wont play an FBS opponent as well as Illinois State in the regular season once again, but considering coach Chris Kliemans squad will be less experienced defensively, a softer schedule might be beneficial. Five others to consider: Harvard (10-0; No. 15), Montana (9-5; No. 13), South Dakota State (9-5; No. 12), Stephen F. Austin (8-5; unranked), Western Carolina (7-5; unranked). Colin Kaepernick Jersey .com) - Bradley Beal deposited a season-high 33 points and John Wall posted another double-double as the Washington Wizards went on the road and beat the Houston Rockets, 104-103. Steve Young Youth Jersey . Not that Durant cared. The only streak he cares about is still intact. http://www.49ersrookiestore.com/49ers-D ... rk-Jersey/ . The Oilers will try to get back in the win column on Monday when they continue a four-game road trip with a battle against the Buffalo Sabres. Edmonton won its third straight game last Wednesday against visiting San Jose, beating the Sharks 3-0 as Scrivens stopped 59 shots to set an NHL record for saves in a regular-season shutout. Deion Sanders Jersey . James Jones got his turn Sunday. And the lift he brought, combined with the expected playoff showings from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, have the Heat off and running in these playoffs. Deebo Samuel Womens Jersey . Aaron Hill and Cliff Pennington hit home runs in the first inning for the Diamondbacks, who beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 on Friday night.SAO PAULO - Nico Rosberg finished ahead of his Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton in practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday.Rosberg was fastest in both sessions, finishing with the best time of the day with a lap of 1 minute, 12.123 seconds at Interlagos. Hamilton was .0213 slower. Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari was third, about half a second behind Rosberg.The Mercedes drivers are the only two vying for the Formula One title. Hamilton leads Rosberg by 24 points with 75 available going into the last two races.The title will not be decided in Brazil as the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi will be worth double points. Hamilton can win his second world title with consecutive second-place finishes or a third in Brazil and a second in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 23.As they did for most of the season, the Mercedes drivers led throughout the practice sessions, which were run under dry conditions at Interlagos.It was a very normal day for us, Rosberg said. There was a lot of understeer early but after we solved the problem the car was very fast, as always. I liked the result.Hamilton doesnt think he needs to improve a lot to catch up with his teammate.I just need to put a lap together, he said.The newly-resurfaced track offered little grip compared to previous years and was especially slippery in the afternoon under warmer temperatures. Several drivers span and went off the track, including Hamilton a few times.The track is really difficult to drive in these temperatures, he said over the team radio.Both practices had to be briefly red flagged four times, including when Force Indias Spanish test driver Daniel Juncadella crashed into a tire barrier in the first session. He was not injured.There will be another practice on Saturday before qualifying.Fernando Alonso of Ferrari finished seventh but had his day cut short in the second session after his engine appeared to blow up.dddddddddddd The Spaniard had to quickly get out of the car as flames appeared to spread. The incident caused one of the red flags.Raikkonen also went off the track several times in both sessions before managing to finish with the third-fastest time.Home crowd favourite Felipe Massa, a two-time winner in Brazil, finished sixth, one spot behind Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas.Red Bull, which has won four of the last five races in Brazil, struggled in the first session but picked up the pace in the second with Daniel Ricciardo finishing fourth. Sebastian Vettel, who at one point said there were some serious problems with his car, ended ninth.McLarens Jenson Button, still uncertain about his future in F1 next season, had mechanical problems and was the only driver without a timed lap in the first session. He was only 16th in the second.There will be only 18 cars again on the grid this weekend as Marussia and Caterham continue to deal with financial problems. Marussia was shut down on Friday and Caterham launched a crowdfunding project to ease its financial difficulties and return to the grid for the final grand prix.Hamilton is going for his sixth win in a row and 11th in the season, both of which would be a first for a British driver. Rosberg has four victories. Neither driver has won in Brazil.Mercedes has placed 1-2 in 10 of the 17 races this year, and clinched the constructors championship with three races to spare. It has 14 victories between the two drivers, one short of the season record shared by Ferrari and McLaren.The 4.3-kilometre counterclockwise (2.6 mile) Interlagos track has new runoff areas and a new pit entrance and pit exit, all added to improve safety.___Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni ' ' '

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