Pelini brings Penguins into FCS National Championship Game

By  | 

FRISCO, Texas (WOWT) -- At 11 a.m. Saturday morning, Bo Pelini is once again coaching for a national championship. The setting is a little different than when he roamed the sidelines as defensive coordinator at LSU. He doesn't have Glenn Dorsey or Ali Highsmith. He'll have to settle for Avery Moss and Derek Rivers.

Just two seasons removed from an unceremonious exit from Lincoln, Pelini has taken Youngstown State from unranked to the FCS National Championship Game.

The staff and roster is littered with names that would be familiar to Nebraska fans. Tight ends coach Joe Ganz, assistant secondary coach Tim Marlowe, defensive end Avery Moss and safety LeRoy Alexander all played for the Big Red. Of course, Bo and brother Carl coached in Memorial Stadium.

With those Lincoln alumni, the Penguins haven't lost since November 5 and seem to have Lady Luck on their side. In the quarter-final, they beat Wofford in double overtime. In the national semi-final, they beat Eastern Washington thanks to a Kevin Rader catch that ranks among the biggest plays of the 2016 season.

What may be the most fortunate circumstance is Youngstown State's opponent; or more specifically, who it isn't. James Madison knocked off perennial powerhouse North Dakota State in the other semi-final game. The same North Dakota State team that beat Youngstown State 24-3. The Penguins haven't lost since.

Heading into the title game, seven James Madison players are suspended. Could the stars be aligning for Pelini and the Penguins?