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Sam Houston State's Jeremiah Briscoe comes onto the field for Sam Houston's first possession in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Huntsville, Texas. (AP Photo/Joe Buvid)

Joe Buvid/Associated Press

Take any cliche that describes a big game in college football and it applies to Friday night’s FCS Playoff semifinal at the Fargodome in Fargo, North Dakota. 

The No. 2 North Dakota State Bison have made seven consecutive semifinals, and from 2011-2015 they won five straight championships. The Bison are taking on a familiar opponent in the No. 6 Sam Houston State Bearkats. 

North Dakota State defeated Sam Houston State in the 2011 and 2012 national championship games and took down the Bearkats in the 2014 semifinals. 

In addition to having a David versus Goliath feel, Friday’s showdown presents us with a clash of styles, as Sam Houston State has the top-ranked offense in the FCS and North Dakota State has one of the top-ranked defenses. 

             

Game Information

TV: ESPN2

Start Time: 8 p.m. ET

Live Stream: Watch ESPN 

             

Preview

North Dakota State has cruised into the semifinals by outscoring San Diego and Wofford 80-13 in its first two playoff games. 

Quarterback Easton Stick is the leader of the offense that also contains tight end Connor Wentz, the cousin of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. 

Stick has thrown for 2,176 yards and thrown 23 touchdowns for the second-seeded Bison. The junior quarterback has also hooked up with 10 different receivers for a score, with R.J. Urzendowski leading the group with eight. 

IOWA CITY, IOWA- SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Easton Stick #12 of the North Dakota State Bison drops back for a pass in the second quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes, on September 17, 2016 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty

Matthew Holst/Getty Images

As much as the play of Stick and the offense matters on Friday, the biggest asset for the Bison will be their defense, which is ranked first in the FCS in passing yards and total yards allowed. The Bison are also second in points allowed per game at 11.4. 

Linebacker Nick DeLuca, who has been invited to the Senior Bowl, is in charge of the North Dakota State defense. DeLuca had seven tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against Wofford as well as an interception and two sacks in the win over San Diego. 

IOWA CITY, IOWA- SEPTEMBER 17: Running back LeShun Daniels #29 of the Iowa Hawkeyes is wrapped up during the fourth quarter by linebacker Nick DeLuca #49 and cornerback Jalen Allison #21 of the North Dakota State Bison on September 17, 2016 at Kinnick St

Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The Bison defense hasn’t faced anyone like Sam Houston State quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe this season. Briscoe leads the FCS with 4,714 passing yards and wide receiver Nathan Stewart is first in the FCS with 1,568 receiving yards. 

Sam Houston State is no stranger to being involved in shootouts, as it has scored 45.6 points per game and conceded 29.3 points per contest. 

With Briscoe at the helm, it’s hard for the Bearkats to be stopped by any opposing defense. Even in the team’s one loss this season to Central Arkansas, Briscoe tossed for 303 yards and three scores. 

Joe Buvid/Associated Press

The Bearkats even have a standout running back in Corey Avery, who has 1,079 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 82.2 yards per game. 

In contrast, the Bison have given up 20 or more points on just two occasions, once in their only loss of the year to South Dakota State and the other occurrence was an overtime victory over Youngstown State. 

Against ranked opposition, the Bison have given up 15 points per game, and they are 8-0 inside the Fargodome overall. 

Something has to give in this clash of FCS titans, and it seems like that one thing is the production of the Sam Houston State offense. North Dakota State has one of the most daunting home-field advantages in any level of the sport, and it has a ton of motivation to get back to the national championship after seeing its title streak end in 2016. 

          

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

All statistics obtained from NCAA.com

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