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Jackie Hope: Got 'Gameday'?

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The Dickinson Press
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Live from Fargo, it's Saturday morning! We're all Bison fans here!

Who didn't watch ESPN's "College GameDay" broadcast from Broadway and Third Avenue in Fargo on Saturday morning? Like maybe one jealous University of North Dakota fan, who is impatiently waiting for hockey season to start. All the rest of us were tuned in, having our morning coffee with show hosts Lee Corso, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard, talkin' Bison football. Breakfast of champions!

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From Big & Rich's opening theme riff to Corso's closing costume -- he wore the team mascot Thundar's big head -- it was one rich morning. Where else are you gonna see 4,500 people politely standing around, waiting for a cue from the tech crew, telling them it's time to get the party started?

Where else you gonna see crowd signs that say, "YES WE HAVE 4G," or "Only 2 Weeks 'til Winter"?

Where else you gonna have a special guest appearance by the wood chipper from the Coen Brothers' movie, "Fargo?" Yeah, ol' Woody was there, chock-o-block full of mannequin pieces. They were mannequin pieces, weren't they?

Not so fast, my friend; you say you missed the show? You say you were trolling the net for cute cat videos, instead? Say what? Man, you gotta get your priorities straight. OK, here's what went down in Fargo.

ESPN's college football pregame show crew goes on location every Saturday morning, and on Sept. 20 they located themselves smack in the middle of downtown Fargo.

The Bison were hosting Delaware State, and were rolling on an 11-game win streak. North Dakota State has been ranked No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision by all the polls and pickers this season, and the Las Vegas sports book boys ranked the Bison No. 55 of all college football teams. Better than the Gophers and Illinois. Better than University of Phoenix-Online. Heck, someone was even waving a sign that read, "BRING ON BAMA!"

Sportscaster Samantha Ponder interviewed NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. Yes, she is Mrs. Christian Ponder, the wife of the Vikings' quarterback Half-Passed Ponder -- the guy with no arm and very little aim. The guy who's gonna be replaced by Johnny Football next season, because the Vikes are on a one-way street to grabbing the first draft pick next time 'round. The guy who can't throw ... oops.

Where were we? Coach Bohl, yeah. Craig Bohl is an amazing coach, pulling the best out of his players while keeping a knee firmly in their backs. He told Sam Ponder the same thing he tells his players every day, "They are about excellence."

"GameDay" promised their show would be 30 percent Bison, which is about the same amount of bison as there is in a buffalo burger. That was darned near an hour out of their three hours of fat-mouthing college football teams. All riiiiight! We saw tailgating frat boys and flag-flying interlopers from UND, plus a bazillion signs that free-ranged from the traditional, "Here Comes the Herd," to the absurd, "Keep Calm and Be Herd."

Even absurder, a "BISON SWAG" sign. What is Bison swag? Is that a buffalo nickel dressed up like 50 Cent? And hey, time warp: a "FIRE CHILDRESS" sign? 2010 called. They want to know if we want their coach back. Maybe they'll even throw in Favre. Now there is an offer we can ponder.

Right behind the host's set were the fans, and right in the front row of the fans were the cheerleaders. They led a continuous chant of, "Let's go, Bison," with a few "Boo South Dakota State" catcalls thrown in to keep things lively. As the show wound down, the cheerleaders wound up, building pyramids and tossing pom-poms. Then they tossed the pyramid, and one nimble minx went flying through the air like she was a T-shirt launched from a gun. How did she do that? Was she crowd surfing from some retro mosh pit? Mosh pit? Hello, 2010; we found your "FIRE CHILDRESS" sign.

The best part of the morning? In the show's final segment, Corso always dons the mascot costume headpiece of the team he's predicting to win the day's game. OK, here was the scene: the uber-urban classic Fargo Theatre entrance, red carpet, two doormen tucked into tuxes. They opened the doors and out walked Corso wearing the Bison head, and holding a tether. On one end of the tether was Corso; on the other was a bison calf. Yeah, the calf was cuter than Corso. But still, it was wicked cool.

Later that day, more than 19,000 fans filled the Fargodome. The lights dimmed and faded as the team finished its countdown to zero and ran onto the field behind Bohl.

Fans' flashlights illuminated the stands, thousands of cheers bounced around the dome like BBs in a boxcar. The No. 1-ranked Bison thundered over Delaware State, 51-0.

One sign said it all, "UFFDAH!"

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