FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota State's Craig Bohl has participated in some big-time bowl games as a player and coach, but the Bison coach says nothing compares to a playoff run.
The Bison (11-1) will host Lehigh (11-1) on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision.
"Playoffs are fun," Bohl said Monday. "You have an opportunity to keep on playing if you win, and if you don't, you're playing very good football teams and you go out and give it your best shot. It's a great format."
Bohl, a former player and coach at Nebraska and other Division I schools, has been to the Rose Bowl and other bowls that are considered rewards in the upper-level Football Bowl Subdivision. It's a system that often comes down to politics, the coach said.
"There's so much jockeying around for position," Bohl said. "I can remember sitting there going, 'Geez, we got to beat some team by such and such so we're going to get 'x' number of style points.'"
The FCS system allows teams to determine the outcome on the field, Bohl said. His only suggestion would be increasing the field from 20 to 24 teams, citing NDSU's two victories in the postseason last year after barely making the playoffs with a 7-5 regular season record.
"What's great about this system is that football teams change during the course of the season," Bohl said. "This is a new season. You have the opportunity to tee it up. Let's find out who the best team is."
Both Lehigh and NDSU earned byes in the first week of playoffs. The Mountain Hawks defeated Towson 40-38 last week by rallying from a 31-24 deficit in the fourth quarter. The Bison topped James Madison 26-14, putting the game away on a 60-yard touchdown run by D.J. McNorton after the Dukes pulled within 19-14 with 7:26 left.
Bohl called Lehigh's Chris Lum the best quarterback NDSU has seen. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior from Lake Orion, Mich., leads the FCS in total offense. He's one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award as the best player in the division.
"He's not average. He's really good," Bohl said.
Lum has completed 333 of 491 passing attempts for 4,090 yards. He has thrown 32 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. He runs a "prolific, explosive" offense that will be difficult to defend, Bohl said.
"There probably isn't too much we have in our tool box that this guy has not seen," he said.