Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork. Brandon Williams Jersey .com) - North Dakota State football has been the story of the decade in the FCS, but in 2014 the Bison have had some sharing to do within their Missouri Valley Football Conference. Illinois State earned a share of the Valley title alongside NDSU and, although both programs didnt meet in the regular season, they will square off in the FCS championship game on Jan. 10 in Frisco, Texas - the first time the two national finalists are members of the same FCS conference. Heres a Top 10 countdown of a memorable 2014 across the FCS, dominated by you-know-what conference: 10. FBS Wins Cut in Half - FCS teams posted a record 16 wins over FBS programs in 2013, but the number was only eight this year. One of the highlights was North Dakota State claiming a win over the FBS for the fifth year in a row, 34-14 at Iowa State on Aug. 30. Also, Yale was a rare host to an FBS program, celebrating the 100th anniversary season of its Yale Bowl by defeating Army, 49-43, in overtime on running back Tyler Vargas fifth touchdown on Sept. 27. 9. Defensive Ends Everywhere - A defensive end, North Dakota State senior Kyle Emanuel, won the 20th annual Buck Buchanan Award as the outstanding defensive player in the FCS, and the talent at the position was better than at any other one in the nation. Any All-American team left off countless worthy candidates. The Sports Network FCS All-America first team included defensive ends Emanuel, Chattanoogas Davis Tull and Montanas Zack Wagenmann. 8. New Hampshire No. 1 - While qualifying for the FCS playoffs for an 11th consecutive season, New Hampshire grabbed the No. 1 ranking for the first time since the 2006 season. The Wildcats, under Eddie Robinson Award winner Sean McDonnell, went unbeaten in the CAA Football and captured a school-record 12 straight games before falling to Illinois State in the national semifinals on Dec. 20. 7. Conference Favorites Rule - Surprise champions and title contenders are an annual staple across the FCS, but the preseason favorites were in control in 2014. Out of 13 conferences, 11 favorites captured at least a share of its conference title: Eastern Washington (Big Sky), Coastal Carolina (Big South), New Hampshire (CAA), Bethune-Cookman (MEAC), North Dakota State (Missouri Valley), Sacred Heart (Northeast), Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley), Fordham (Patriot), San Diego (Pioneer), Chattanooga (Southern) and Southeastern Louisiana (Southland). Southern reached the SWAC championship game, leaving only Princeton to fall flat in the Ivy League. 6. Grambling Revival - First-year coach Broderick Fobbs turned around the fortunes of Grambling State, his alma mater, a year after a turbulent season in which there was three different coaches in charge, the players staged a six- day walkout in protest of conditions in the program and refused to travel to a game at Jackson State - forcing the Southwestern Athletic Conference program into a forfeit - and the Tigers won only one game for a second consecutive season. Under Fobbs, the historically black national power won its first seven SWAC games and nearly reached the conference championship game in a 7-5 campaign. 5. Year of the Quarterbacks ... - Sure, its a quarterbacks game today, but the Walter Payton Award has really come to belong to the quarterbacks. The count of winners was once nine running backs, seven quarterbacks and one wide receiver. But Villanova signal caller John Robertson claiming the 28th annual award - the Heisman of the FCS - marked the 11th straight win by a quarterback. Also invited to the Payton announcement were two other QBs, runner-up Vernon Adams Jr. of Eastern Washington and third-place finisher Justin Arias of Idaho State. 4. ... Or (More Likely) Year of the Running Backs - South Dakota State senior Zach Zenners romp over Montana State in a snowy playoff game highlighted his third straight season of surpassing 2,000 rushing yards - a first in NCAA Division I. Thanks greatly to his amazing three-peat, there has been two 2,000-yard rushers in each of the past three FCS seasons (Illinois State junior Marshaun Coprich is the other back to do so this season and North Dakota State senior John Crockett could make it a trio). Before 2012, there was only one such season with multiple 2,000-yard backs. Three FCS running backs - Towsons Terrance West (Cleveland Browns), Georgia Southerns Jerick McKinnon (Minnesota Vikings) and Coastal Carolinas Lorenzo Taliaferro (Baltimore Ravens) were selected in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft in May and had an impact along with undrafted rookie Isaiah Crowell (Cleveland) from Alabama State. 3. Bison, Bison and More Bison - North Dakota State is a known brand not just in the FCS but in all of college football (just ask ESPNs College GameDay). The Bison opened the year by becoming the second program to win a third straight FCS championship, routing Towson, 35-7, in the final. Chris Klieman took the coaching reins from Craig Bohl and his program never let up, extending a nearly 25-month winning streak to an FCS-record 33 games before it lost to Northern Iowa on Nov. 8. With a 14-1 record, the Bison are headed back to Frisco, Texas, to try to win an unprecedented fourth straight title. 2. Coaching Carousel - The head coaching changes for 2014 got a head start late last year and it wasnt pretty. An unsettling 28 of the 124 FCS programs - a whopping 22.6 percent - had new head coaches this season. The big successes included Fobbs (Grambling State), Klieman (North Dakota State), Greg Gattuso (Albany), John Grass (Jacksonville State), Everett Withers (James Madison), Lee Hull (Morgan State), Jody Sears (Sacramento State), K.C. Keeler (Sam Houston State) and Clint Conque (Central Arkansas). The big-name changes after this season included former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini stepping into a ready-to-go situation at Youngstown State, Brian Jenkins leaving Bethune-Cookman for Alabama State and Bob Stitt replacing the retiring Mick Delaney at Montana. 1. Valley Boys - The Missouri Valley Football Conference basically lapped the field in remaining the nations best FCS conference. With co-champions Illinois State and North Dakota State set to square off in the national championship game, the Missouri Valley is the first conference to have both national finalists (national playoffs began in the 1978 season). Valley teams went 30-2 against non-conference opponents - losing only to Top 10 teams - and the conference tied the FCS record with five playoff qualifiers. Indiana State, Northern Iowa and South Dakota State also participated in the playoffs, while Youngstown State ended the regular season ranked in the Top 25 despite not reaching the postseason. The only team to beat either Illinois State or NDSU is Northern Iowa. Its been pure dominance out of the Valley. David Johnson Jersey . Pistorius denied the allegation that he said to the close friend of the girlfriend he killed: "How can you sleep at night?" 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Rational analysis would suggest the Bruins have an easy run here. But were not relying on rationale. Random: The Bruins won the 57 series in 5 games, so in their last one series against the Wings, the Bruins are undefeated. Hockey logic suggests that trend would continue. Additionally, Daniel Alfredsson has yet to lose a playoff series as a Red Wing.Coin Toss: BruinsI-Ching: "Success through smallness. Perseverance brings good fortune to the wanderer." This suggests the smaller more creative Wings will beat the big, bad Bruins.Utter Nonsense: The Bruins have sandpaper and grit, which are synonyms and essentially mean that they have players who dont mind fighting and bending the rules. Sandpaper and grit are very popular among NHL managers and coaches. Mostly, they like saying, "sandpaper and grit." Likewise, the hockey media has taken to referencing sandpaper and grit. They like players with sandpaper and grit. Players lacking sandpaper and grit are not the makings of a champion. Whoever invented the Corsi and Fenwick stats needs to develop a quantifiable Sandpaper Quotient, or the term must be banned from the sport. Prediction: Im a Montrealer, and as such morally and physically incapable of favouring anything Boston-related. Wings in 7. ~ (2) Tampa Bay Lightning (46-27-9, 101 points) vs. (3) Montreal Canadiens (46-28-8, 100 points) Montreal is the only Canadian team in the playoffs, and each of the past 6 times that has occurred theyve won the Cup. The Bolts are entering their first playoffs without a French Canadian star player and an injured team MVP in goaltender Ben Bishop. The big question in this series is: Will there be enough Canadian snowbirds in Tampa to give the Habs a home ice advantage on the road? Random: No team has ever won the Stanley Cup after one of its forwards was charged with cocaine possession the week before the playoffs. The Habs are undefeated in the playoffs in years that Pauline Marois PQ government has been defeated in a provincial election.Coin Toss: Habs.I-Ching: "Biting through has success. It is favorable to let justice be administered." Neither team is particularly truculent, but with the return of Brandon Prust to the Habs lineup and George Parros in the press box at the ready, I-Ching likes the Canadiens.Utter Nonsense: Bolts head coach Jon Cooper is a lawyer. No NHL head coach who is a lawyer by trade has ever lost to the Habs in the first round of a playoff series. Prediction: Price gets hot and carries the Habs to Round 2. Habs in 6. ~ METROPOLITAN DIVISION SEMI-FINALS (1) Pittsburgh Penguins (51-24-7, 109 points) vs. (4) Columbus Blue Jackets (43-32-7, 93 points) Tomas Vokun was added to the Pens roster over the weekend, suggesting that the organization has little faith in starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. One would have to believe that if the Penguins dont make a deep run this year, head coach Dan Bylsma would be looking for another job. The Jackets are just happy to have been invited to the dance, are playing with house money, and (insert third cliché here.) An upset, or long series, would seemingly rely on Ryan Johansens coming out party as the games next dominant power forward and Sergei Bobrovskys return to Vezina excellence. Random: The price of a cappuccino in Columbus is 10.59% less than in Pittsburgh. You have to respect that kind of sabermetrics when considering the outcome of a series.Coin Toss: Penguins.I-Ching: "Decrease combined with sincerity brings about supreme good fortune without blame." I-Ching mustve meant "the crease" not decrease. Eastern online divination suggests Bobrovsky outplays Fleury, with the latter again to be blamed for the Pens misfortunes in the second season.Utter Nonsense: No one thought that in a sport dominated by misogynistic locker room sentiment, a team nicknamed the BJs would be a bad idea? Prediction: Bob returns to form, and Ohio hockey goes to Round 2 for the first time ever. Jackets in 7. ~ (2) New York Rangers (45-31-6, 96 points) vs. (3) Philadelphia Flyers (42-30-10) Broadway versus Broad Street. This series promises to be one of the most entertaining, as these decades-old rivals meet in Round 1. Ultimately, in the series (as with most really) comes down to goaltending. The Rangers will be relying desperately on the play of Henrik Lundqvist, who has looked mortal this year. The Flyers, as always, have goaltending issues, and could probably start the ghost of Pelle Lindbergh and still have a better chance than the suspect duo of Steve Mason and Ray Emery. The series will most certainly miss John Tortorella. Hes the Jim Schoenfeld of his generation. Random: Martin St-Louis has never lost a playoff series while with the Rangers. Craig Berube is undefeated in the post-season as a head coach. What? How can one reconcile these two contradictory yet indisputable facts?Coin Toss: Rangers.I-Ching: "The Taming Power of the Great. Perseverance furthers. Not eating at home brings good fortune. It furthers one to cross the great water." Well, looks like I-Ching sees these teams crossing the Hudson a few times before its over, ultimately going 7 games, with the road team the victor. Flyers go to Round 2.Utter Nonsense: Lundqvist once played Guns n Roses "Sweet Child O Mine" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. No goalie that has performed a GnR tune on NBC has ever lost to the Flyers in a 7 game series. Prediction: Hard to argue with I-Ching here. Flyers in 7. ~ WESTERN CONFERENCE CENTRAL DIVISION SEMI-FINALS (1) Colorado Avalanche (52-22-8, 112 points) vs. (4) Minnesota Wild (43-27-12, 98 points) Colorado is the surprise one seed in the West, finishing strong under first-year head coach Patrick Roy. Roy was at home in the playoffs as a player, winning four Cups and three Conn Smythe Trophies, more than any other player. His team seems to have appropriated his temperament and passion, a scaryy notion for opponents. Josh Bynes Jersey. Minnesota is the team that money bought, still trying to reap the rewards of signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter two summers ago. Their goaltending currently relies on Ilya Bryzgalov having one last good run in the tank. Hell be back on the lecture circuit soon. Random: Dany Heatley, acquired by the Wild in the off-season, is having his worst season as a pro, with some suggesting his time in the league could be done. This is wonderful news for fans in Ottawa and Edmonton, who took Heatleys shunning of their communities quite hard a few years ago. What does this have to do with this matchup? Nothing really. Thats why this is the "Random" section. I explained this in the introduction. Did you even read the introduction? Coin Toss: Avs.I-Ching: "The movement of heaven is full of power. Thus the superior man makes himself strong and untiring. Changing Lines: Changing yang at the bottom means hidden dragon. Do not act." The movement of heaven suggests the Avs are on a roll not to be stopped, and the superior man is obviously Roy (just ask him). I-Ching sees this series coming down to the third and fourth lines, giving the Avs depth the advantage. Utter Nonsense: The best burger Ive ever had in my life was at the Crowne Royal hotel in Denver. Ive never been to Minnesota, but I doubt their burgers measure up. However, Betty Whites character Rose Nylund from The Golden Girls is from Minnesota, suggesting this series may go longer than I believe. Prediction: Roy in the playoffs is good for the game. Avs in 5. ~ (2) St. Louis Blues (52-23-7, 111 points) vs. (3) Chicago Blackhawks (46-21-5, 107 points) I suppose this series is the one that many are most looking forward to, but my reaction to the matchup is: Meh. St. Louis, under Ken Hitchcock, plays the kind of hockey that ruins hockey: An over-coached, systems based, reduce chances game that makes Jacques Lemaires teams look like the 80s Oilers. Ryan Miller, playing for a contract, will be something to watch, however. Chicago is a little banged up, having rested Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane down the stretch. No team has repeated as champions since the late 90s Red Wings, suggesting the Hawks may be in for more of a challenge than they might expect. Including the Olympics, many of the Hawks best players have played a lot of hockey in the past 16 months. Random: At the beginning of the season, Hitchcock ordered that the Blues no longer celebrate by fist bumping along the length of the bench as most teams do. In the regular season, this was an exercise in team before player, the collective over the individual. But in the post-season, when emotions arent just running high, but rather an intangible asset, how will this micromanaging affect the Blues players?Coin Toss: Blues.I-Ching: "The Well. The town may be changed, but the well cannot be changed. It neither decreases nor increases. They come and go and draw from the well. If one gets down almost to the water and the rope does not go all the way, or the jug breaks, it brings misfortune."Ya, I dont know what that means. Utter Nonsense: Ryan Miller is married to actress Noureen DeWulf, who appeared in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past with Matthew McConaughey. McConaughey won an Oscar this year for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, and was critically lauded for his performance in HBOs True Detective. These facts suggest DeWulfs husband will win a Stanley Cup. Prediction: Hitchcock is part of the destruction of up-tempo hockey. I cant pick the Blues. Hawks in 6. ~ PACIFIC DIVISION SEMI-FINALS (1) Anaheim Ducks (54-20-8, 116 points) vs. (4) Dallas Stars (40-31-11, 91 points) Anaheim, since replacing Randy Carlyle with Bruce Boudreau as head coach, plays the kind of hockey we all want to see: Offensive, creative, and relying more on the players than a system. We need more Boudreaus. Any team that boasts Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Teemu Selanne, has the ability to challenge for the Cup. Dallas. Well, Dallas has Tim Thomas, the strangest right wing quote machine, back in the playoffs after a year spent away from the game, building bomb shelters and reading Ayn Rand. But, the team squeaked into the playoffs, and despite the rise of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, seems a few years from being the dominant force that GM Jim Nill is intent on building. Random: If you dont like Selanne, you dont like hockey. It would be great for the game if the Ducks made a bit of a run. Coin Toss: Ducks.I-Ching: "Contemplation. The ablution has been made, but not yet the offering. Full of trust they look up to him."See, even Internet I-Ching likes Teemu. Utter Nonsense: Boudreau had a minor role in Slap Shot. No head coach of a California-based NHL team who has appeared in a Paul Newman film has ever lost a playoff series against a Texas-based team if that series began on a weekday. Prediction: Teemu plays like hes 23, and takes the Stars out quick so he can rest like hes 43. Ducks in 4. ~ (2) San Jose Sharks (51-22-9, 111 points) vs. (3) Los Angeles Kings (46-28-8, 100 points) This is perhaps the most compelling series of the first round. The forever playoff-challenged Sharks against the surprising recent champion Kings. San Jose just cant seem to ever find that playoff gear. If they dont go to the conference finals this year, it could be time for a rebuild. Even more surprising is the fact that somehow the curmudgeonly Kings coach Darryl Sutter has become an entertaining quote machine. Where was that in Calgary? Sutter has this team playing well, and if goaltender Jonathan Quick can regain his 11 form, the Kings could go deep. Random: See what I did above? Did you see that? This is exactly what I was railing against in the introduction. What kind of nonsense is that, "if goaltender Jonathan Quick can regain his 11 form, the Kings could go deep"? Of course if their goalie gets hot they could go deep. If any of a number of things happen, any team could go deep. I cant believe people get paid for this.Coin Toss: Kings.I-Ching: "Dispersion. Success. The king approaches his temple." Goodbye San Jose. Utter Nonsense: Brent Burns wears awesome suits. Sharks should win on that fact alone. Prediction: No self-respecting hockey team should wear teal. Kings in 7. Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Disocunt Football Jerseys White NFL Jerseys Cheap Discount Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys 2020 Wholesale NFL T-shirts NFL Jerseys China ' ' '