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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | January 4, 2023

5 reasons why North Dakota State can defend its FCS title in the 2022 playoffs

South Dakota State vs North Dakota State: FCS championship preview and prediction

North Dakota State is the defending FCS national champion and enters the 2022 FCS playoffs as the No. 3 seed. The road won't be easy for the Bison, but they do have what it takes to repeat.

RELATED: Why UIW can win the title

Why North Dakota State is ready to defend its FCS title in the 2022 playoffs

1. Playoff experience

Almost every player that's not a true freshman on North Dakota State's roster has been a part of a championship run. These players know the long grind that is the FCS playoffs and what it takes to get from the first playoff game to the title game. The redshirt seniors on the Bison have won four championships and know the tips and tricks for a deep playoff run. That's valuable experience that can only come from those who have done it before. This playoff experience is part of why the North Dakota State dynasty has been successful year after year and why the Bison can defend its title in 2022.

LIVE UPDATES: Click or tap here for live coverage of the 2022 FCS playoffs

2. Veteran leadership

Beyond playoff experience, North Dakota State is a veteran-laden team. In its last game, every North Dakota State starter but one was at least a junior, with some starters in their fifth year. The only underclassman starter is sophomore punter Kaedin Steindorf, who punts and holds for the Bison.

With upperclassmen come many intangibles like leadership and poise under pressure, all things needed for a deep playoff run.

BIG QUESTIONS: 7 questions to be answered in the second round of the FCS playoffs

3. Playoff football

It might sound cliche, but "playoff football" is about running the ball and playing great defense. There are few, if any, teams in the FCS better at both of those than North Dakota State.

The Bison are one of the most run-heavy teams in the country relying on running backs TaMerik Williams and Kobe Johnson or fullback Hunter Luepke to impose their will on opposing defenses. When they don't run the ball, quarterback Cam Miller (more on him later) can use his legs to create positive plays. On defense, North Dakota State has a top-five scoring defense led by a Buck Buchanan Award finalist in defensive end Spencer Waege. 

Running the ball and playing stout defense aren't new things for the Bison; it's North Dakota State's championship foundation. When it comes time for the playoffs, North Dakota State doesn't have to change what it does because "playoff football" is ingrained in everything the Bison do.

AWARDS: Every finalist for the Walter Payton, Buck Buchanan and Jerry Rice Awards

4. Cam Miller

North Dakota State quarterback Cam Miller is in his first full year as a starter, but is not lacking in the experience or leadership mentioned above. Miller started two playoff games as a freshman and finished last year's championship season as the starter. On the field, Miller is one of a handful of quarterbacks to score 10 touchdowns passing and rushing this season. He's also one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the FCS, ranking 12th with 156.02 passing efficiency.

Miller knows how to take care of the football and make the right play, whether downfield through the air or with his legs. He knows what it takes to win a championship and will play a pivotal role in North Dakota State's title defense.

🔮: Predictions, picks for every FCS playoff game and round

5. Coaching

It sounds simple. To win a championship, you have to know how to win a championship. There's no head coach in the FCS playoffs that knows how to win a championship better than North Dakota State's Matt Entz.

Entz led the Bison to their second title in his three-year tenure last year. He's the only FCS head coach with multiple titles to his name and the only head coach still at a school where he won a title (sorry, Mike London). 

SEEDS: The importance of a top seed in the FCS playoffs, explained

Coaching can often fly under the radar, with the talented players on the field getting the spotlight. However, great coaching can be the difference between a win and a loss. Entz has proven he knows how to get the job done a championship level.

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