FCS Kickofff: North Dakota State at Montana

Are you itching for college football and just can’t wait until Thursday’s season openers? You’re in luck, because the unofficial start of the season is today with the second annual FCS Kickoff. A look at this lid-lifter:

 

Who: No. 1 North Dakota State, the four-time defending FCS national champion, at No. 12 Montana, which has two national titles and five runner-up finishes since 1995.

When, where: 2:30 p.m. today, Missoula, Mont.

TV: ESPN, with Brent Musburger and Jesse Palmer calling the game

Facts and figures

Star power: The Bison are the unanimous preseason No. 1 in the FCS coaches poll, and they boast senior quarterback Carson Wentz, who passed for 3,111 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushed for 642 yards and six TDs in 2014. In addition, NDSU has five preseason All-Americas, including tackle Joe Haeg (Brainerd), guard Zack Johnson (Eastview) and long snapper James Fisher (Bloomington Jefferson).

Vraa returns: Wide receiver Zach Vraa of Rosemount received a sixth year after a 2011 injury, and he’s poised to rewrite the NDSU record book. He needs 24 receptions, 285 receiving yards and four TD catches to become the school’s career leader in those categories.

Don’t forget the Grizzlies: Montana returns 23 starters from last year’s Big Sky Conference runner-up team, and they’ll do so under new coach Bob Stitt and his up-tempo passing game. Stitt is making the jump from Colorado Mines, where he led the Orediggers to the Rocky Mountain Conference title and Division II playoffs.

Staff reports