Numbers don’t lie with James Madison, North Dakota State

(STATS) – James Madison and North Dakota State are already working on preparations for the FCS championship game, and the numbers in their season don’t lie.

They are the two strongest programs in the FCS, having played their way together for an epic matchup.

They’ll meet on Jan. 6 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Top-ranked JMU (14-0) will seek a second straight national title, while second-seeded North Dakota State (13-1) hopes to reclaim the championship from a Dukes team that ended their five-year run atop the FCS in last year’s semifinals.

Here are five key numbers for both finalists this season:

No. 1 seed James Madison

10.7 – North Dakota is ranked second in scoring defense in the FCS, but the top spot belongs to the Dukes, who are allowing only 10.7 points per game.

21 – Clutch kicking has been a staple this season. Ethan Ratke has replaced an injured Tyler Gray to make 9 of 11 field-goal attempts, including the game-winner to end the quarterfinal against Weber State, putting the Dukes among the national leaders with 21 field goals.

26 – The Dukes are riding the second-longest winning streak in FCS history, including wins over ranked opponents in six of their last nine games. At 26 games, only North Dakota State’s run of 33 straight in the 2012-14 seasons is longer.

43 – Bolstered by a school-record 10 takeaways against South Dakota State in the semifinals, the Dukes have forced 43 this season – the most in all of NCAA college football. They’ve scored 229 points off them.

48 – Led by pass rushers Andrew Ankrah, Darrious Carter and Kyre Hawkins, the Dukes have racked up an intimidating 48 sacks.

No. 2 seed North Dakota State

33-3 – NDSU quarterbacks are judged more with winning than individual accolades, and junior Easton Stick has a 33-3 career record as a starter (JMU senior Bryan Schor’s 29-3 record isn’t too shabby, either).

47.6 – The Bison offense keeps drives alive. It ranks eighth in the FCS in converting third-down attempts – 81 of 170 for 47.6 percent.

170-30 – NDSU coaches have long made excellent adjustments at halftime and turned games in the third quarter, if the Bison haven’t done so already. This season, they’ve outscored opponents 170-30 in the third quarter.

237.1 – No team in the FCS has allowed fewer yards per game than NDSU’s 237.1 in each smothering outing.

282.1 – With running back Bruce Anderson scolding hot in the playoffs, the Bison offense is averaging 282.1 rushing yards – the team’s highest average since 1996.

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