FRISCO, Texas — Before North Dakota State made Fargo to Frisco an annual trip, Eastern Washington won the first Football Championship Subdivision final played in North Texas. That was eight years ago.

The Eagles (12-2) are finally back in the title game Saturday after a semifinal win over Maine, and aren’t surprised that they will have to face North Dakota State (15-0), which is going for its record seventh FCS championship since then.

“In the offseason thinking about getting to this point, you kind of just automatically picture it being NDSU just because it’s so normal for them to be here,” Eastern Washington linebacker Ketner Kupp said.

Eastern Washington Coach Aaron Best knows what his team is up against.

“This is not a business trip. This is not a vacation. This is a game against North Dakota State, the No. 1 team in the nation, and we’re not OK (just) to be here,” said Best, the team’s offensive coordinator during that 2010 championship season. “We will give them their best shot. They will give us our best shot.”

North Dakota State won five titles from 2011-15, then missed a January trip to Frisco two years ago but returned last season and matched the six FCS titles won by Georgia Southern before it moved to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Like five years ago in Craig Bohl’s final game before he became Wyoming’s coach, the Bison will try to win a title in Chris Klieman’s finale. Klieman, who will be Kansas State’s new coach, is going for his fourth FCS title to match the record set by Jim Tressel at Youngstown State.

“It doesn’t feel any different right now, to be honest with you, simply because my total focus has been on preparing … for Eastern Washington. And no different than last year or three years before that or however many years we’ve been here,” Klieman said. “Whether it’s my last game here or not, to me, is irrelevant. It’s just the time that you have with these seniors.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.