Sam Houston's 11-3 football team returned to the practice field Thursday after Christmas break, ready to prepare for the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game.

The Bearkats face a rematch with last year's national champions North Dakota State. The Bison stand No. 1 in the 2012 Football Championship Subdivision rankings with a 13-1 record and are the top seed in the playoff.

Sam Houston entered the playoffs unseeded and ranked No. 5 in both major regular season final polls.

"We are really excited about the opportunity to go back to a National Championship Game," head coach Willie Fritz said Thursday. "We just got back yesterday, back into practice mode.

"It was tough to get here this season with just four games at home and 10 games on the road including trips to Montana and Washington in the quarters and semifinals. We needed to let the players get a little time off to unwind and get healthy."

Since starting the season 1-2, Sam Houston has won 10 of its last 11 games with the only loss coming in College Station against then No. 8 BCS ranked Texas A&M.

The matchup between Sam Houston and North Dakota State marks only the fourth time in the history of  NCAA Division I Football Championship Game that the same two opponents have faced off in the finals.

"We are excited to be back in this position and I know Sam Houston fans are very proud of the back‑to‑back appearances in this game," Fritz said. "The really is looking forward to the challenge of playing an excellent North Dakota State team on January 5th."

The Bearkats will be practicing daily up until their departure for Frisco Wednesday, Jan. 2

"We are not changing our schedule a whole lot," Fritz said. "We're going to go with what got us here, although we'll be tweaking some things that we do and we know North Dakota State will do the same.  You have a long time to insert some new things on offense, defense and also special teams, you know, with the layoff that you have from the last game, the semifinal game and the final game."

The championship finals will be telecast live on ESPN2. Kickoff Jan. 2 is at 12 noon at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco.