North Dakota State is FCS master of fourth-quarter comeback wins

NCAA Football

(Stats Perform) – Northern Iowa had North Dakota State just where it wanted the Bison – or so the Panthers thought.

The last time NDSU trailed against an opponent in the fourth quarter goes back 27 games to Oct. 6, 2018.

It lasted one play.

Northern Iowa was at home inside the UNI-Dome and could look up to the scoreboard at the end of three quarters with the thought of nursing a 31-28 lead. But on the first play of the fourth quarter, quarterback Easton Stick hit running back Bruce Anderson for a 75-yard touchdown pass and NDSU went ahead for good. In fact, the Bison tacked on three more touchdowns, and the final score – 56-31 – barely reflected the defict they faced after three quarters.

The way North Dakota State trails in the fourth quarter is unlike any other Division I team. In the last decade, while the Bison have built an FCS dynasty that includes eight national championships, they have a 17-12 record in games when trailing at any point in the fourth quarter. That .586 winning dwarfs the next-best in the FCS, Old Dominion (now an FBS program) with a .368 winning percentage from a 7-12 record.

Eastern Washington was the only FCS team in the 2010s with more fourth-quarter comeback wins than NDSU, but its 19 were countered by 35 losses for a .352 winning percentage.

On the FBS level, Alabama (11-14, .440) was the only program above a .389 winning percentage when trailing in the fourth quarter of a game last decade.

NDSU players, like many on other teams, raise four fingers in the air prior to the fourth quarter of a game, basically willing themselves to be the better team in the final 15 minutes.

As former Bison coach Craig Bohl said about his team after a fourth-quarter comeback win over UNI in 2013 – sorry again, UNI – “They got in the fourth quarter and put those four fingers up. There is a great deal of past history that we’re going to get this game won.”

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