North Dakota State got what it wanted for its first playoff game of 2015: redemption over rivalry.
The Bison's quest for a fifth straight Football Championship Subdivision title continues at home Saturday against the Montana Grizzlies, who defeated NDSU on the final play of the first game of the season. While the Bison were enjoying a bye last week, the Griz eliminated NDSU nemesis South Dakota State in a first-round game.
That gives the Bison a chance to atone for the season-opening setback that was featured on ESPN as the first game of the Division I season. Montana rallied to win the game 38-35 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Joey Counts with two seconds left.
The revenge factor, Bison defensive lineman Nate Tanquay, has gone mostly unspoken this week.
"I think it's in everybody's head," Tanquay said. "To me it's just embarrassing to lose to the same team twice. They're a really good team, and anything can happen, but for me especially I do not want to lose to these guys."
This is NDSU's sixth straight appearance in the FCS playoffs, where the Bison have an 18-1 record that includes a quarterfinal appearance in 2010. The Bison are 13-0 at home in the postseason since becoming eligible for Division I playoffs in 2008.
Montana (8-4) holds the FCS record for most playoff appearances at 23 and most consecutive playoff appearances with 17, from 1993 to 2009. This is their third straight trip to the FCS tournament.
Both teams lost their starting quarterbacks to injuries. The Grizzlies got their standout, Brady Gustafson, back three weeks ago. The Bison (9-2) are still without NFL prospect Carson Wentz, but redshirt freshman Easton Stick is 5-0 in his absence. Wentz broke the wrist on his throwing hand during a loss to South Dakota on Oct. 17 and isn't likely to return during the playoffs.
Montana coach Bob Stitt said his team, which was in survival mode without Gustafson, has settled back into a groove with him. He has led the Griz to a 57-16 win over Eastern Washington, a 54-35 victory over Montana State and a 24-17 triumph over SDSU.
Virginia gets Mendenhall
Virginia hired Bronco Mendenhall away from BYU to be the Cavaliers' new head football coach.
Mendenhall was in his 11th season with the Cougars. He was 99-42 with the Cougars, taking them to a bowl game every season.
• East Carolina fired coach Ruffin McNeill after six seasons.
• Georgia backup quarterback Faton Bauta is transferring for his final year and is a graduate student who can play right away.
• Montana State hired Washington assistant Jeff Choate as its head football coach.
• Washington coach Chris Petersen said wide receivers coach Brent Pease will not be back next season and will not coach in their bowl game.