Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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FARGO—Bruce Anderson went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season. He went way over. In fact, he went so far over on Friday night that he ended up in Texas. That's where North Dakota State is headed after defeating Sam Houston State 55-13 in front of 18,279 fans who threw a hoedown at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. The only thing missing was Bruce Almighty leaving the field wearing a cowboy hat. The win put the Bison in the FCS title game for the sixth time in seven years Jan. 6 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
FARGO—You can do a lot in 4 minutes and 49 seconds around the Fargodome on a Saturday afternoon. You can drive a custom-made Bison fan bus into the tailgating lot, for instance, and take about that much time to set up for the day's festivities. It takes about that much time from the moment the lights go out and the North Dakota State "Thunderstruck" intro gets going until the lights come on again.
FARGO—North Dakota State's non-conference series with one of the top teams in the Missouri Valley Conference will go down as a split. The Summit League Bison couldn't close a sweep at home against Missouri State on Monday night at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex. An untimely scoring drought late was NDSU's downfall and the Bears took a 71-58 victory on a night when blizzard warnings were common in the Red River Valley. NDSU got cold, too.
FARGO—They look different at defensive tackle in the Missouri Valley Football Conference than they do in the Pioneer Football League. They look different at safety and they look different at defensive end. They really look different at linebacker, too. They look like 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, the dimensions of Bison senior Nick DeLuca. They look like Jabril Cox, who is 6-3, 227. If the conventional wisdom says DeLuca is getting healthier as the season is getting longer, then Wofford College (S.C.) will have to deal with his presence next weekend in the quarterfinals.
FARGO—North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman has been around football for a lot of years and seen a lot of weather conditions that weren't favorable. Last Saturday, Nov. 18, set a new low. The Bison defeated Illinois State 20-7 in a game that started in drizzle, turned to a horizontal rain with strong winds, morphed into sleet that turned to snow and finished in cold, wind-chill temperatures. "As tough of conditions as I've ever played in or coached in," Klieman said. "I don't think TV did it justice as to how bad it was. It was survival in the first half."
FARGO—If North Dakota State is to return to Frisco, Texas, the Bison will get their chance to do it at home. The Division I Football Championship Committee awarded NDSU the No. 2 seed on Sunday morning, Nov. 19, and the Bison will receive a first-round bye for the playoffs. NDSU will get the winner of the University of San Diego and Northern Arizona on Saturday, Dec. 2. San Diego won the Pioneer League and NAU is an at-large entrant from the Big Sky Conference.
NORMAL, Ill.—The best catch all rainy, snowy, sleety, windy afternoon was not by a receiver at Hancock Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 18. It was by a North Dakota State freshman outside linebacker who in a matter of weeks is turning into one of those difference makers. Senior Nick DeLuca is the big steady, mature presence at middle linebacker. A few steps to either side of him is Jabril Cox, who made the play against Illinois State that turned into the eventual game-winner.
FARGO—The final decision for the 24-team FCS playoff field will be unveiled at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 19. But until then, there is plenty at stake at stadiums across the country on Saturday, Nov. 18. Four teams have already won conference titles and earned an automatic qualifier: Wofford in the Southern, Central Connecticut State in the Northeast, Jacksonville State in the Ohio Valley and San Diego in the Pioneer. It's probably safe to say another nine teams are a sure bet to make the field even if they lose on Saturday.
FARGO—When the three buses carrying the North Dakota State football team drive up to Hancock Stadium in Normal, Ill., on Saturday, Nov. 18, it will be the second-straight road game in which the Bison will play in a new or renovated facility. Illinois State invested $26 million into a project that NDSU has yet to see. The last time the Bison played at ISU was in 2012.
FARGO—North Dakota State is on the stretch run toward another Missouri Valley Football Conference title. But there's also more than Illinois State on the minds of the coaches this week. The new early signing period is a little more than one month away. And, in something the NDSU athletic department has done on a regular basis, it recently emailed a list of "NCAA compliance reminders" to its fan base. Essentially, it's a snapshot of items that boosters are not allowed to do for prospective student-athletes.