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(STATS) – It would be appropriate if the Division I FCS championship game between North Dakota State and James Madison lives up to the anticipation – two powers ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, since the preseason.

Their matchup – set for Jan. 11 in Frisco, Texas – surely has been worth the wait.

The best postseason format in Division I has gone from a 24-team field to the two finalists, and there’s been memorable games along the way.

Here are the five best games heading into the epic final matchup:

1. Southeastern Louisiana 45, Villanova 44 (First Round, Nov. 30)

One week after losing its final regular-season game by one point, Southeastern Louisiana capped a shootout win over Villanova when Chason Virgil connected with C.J. Turner for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 2:56 left and Bryce Broussard kicked the extra point for a 45-44 lead. Less than two minutes earlier, Villanova went ahead 44-38, but missed the PAT attempt. Virgil completed 36 of 49 passes for a career-high 474 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, while Villanova’s Daniel Smith accounted for 373 yards of total offense and five touchdowns.

2. Weber State 17, Montana 10 (Quarterfinals, Dec. 14)

Weber State avenged a 35-16 loss to Montana in the Big Sky regular season while advancing to the national semifinals for the first time in its third straight quarterfinal. The first quarter played in falling snow, and the Wildcats had five interceptions and six sacks (defensive end Adam Rodriguez with four) against Griz quarterback Dalton Sneed just six days after the Griz scored 73 in a second-round win. Weber freshman Ja’Kobe Harris made the play of the game, blocking a punt deep in Montana territory and falling on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown, which made it 17-7 with 9:41 left to play.

3. No. 1 North Dakota State 9, Illinois State 3 (Quarterfinals, Dec. 14)

The Bison advanced to the national semifinals for the ninth straight season, but had to hold off an Illinois State squad that it defeated 37-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Griffin Crosa kicked three field goals in the second quarter to provide all of the scoring for the two-time defending national champions, who hadn’t been held without a touchdown since 2002. Redbirds running back James Robinson carried the ball 24 times for 94 yards, ending an incredible, three-game playoff run with 102 carries for 611 yards and three touchdowns.

4. Kennesaw State 28, Wofford 21 (First Round, Nov. 30)

After an injury to Kennesaw’s starting quarterback Tommy Bryant, little-used sophomore Jonathan Murphy came off the bench to carry the ball 23 times for 206 yards and three touchdowns. In a rainy matchup of two triple option offenses, the Big South power Owls had a commanding 309-111 advantage in rushing yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry, while Southern Conference champ Wofford managed 3.1 yards per carry. The win, which Kennesaw coach Brian Bohannon called the best in program history given the circumstance, was the Owls’ 48th in five seasons, giving it more than any start-up program in that timeframe.

5. Northern Iowa 13, South Dakota State 10 (Second Round, Dec. 7)

UNI helped avenge a 38-7 loss to South Dakota State in the MVFC regular season, taking the lead for the first time on Matthew Cook’s 18-yard field goal with 2:10 remaining. The Panthers, who kept an offense to 10 points or less for the sixth time in seven games, shut out the Jackrabbits after their first two possessions and allowed only 89 yards in the second half. Three different Panthers had first-half takeaways and three different players had sacks, with defensive end Brawntae Wells gaining one of each.