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FNS photo by David Samson North Dakota State captains Grant Olson (34), Ryan Smith (4), Billy Turner (77) and Cole Jirik (93) walk onto the field for the coin toss before the FCS semifinal game against University of New Hampshire on Dec. 20 at the Fargodome.

NDSU familiar to Frisco

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FARGO — Frisco, Texas, has been one of the fastest-growing cities in America. If you need somebody to gauge it the last three years, just find a representative from North Dakota State.

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The Bison head to the northern suburb of Dallas for the third straight year this week. The 1 p.m. kickoff for the Division I FCS national title game on Saturday against Towson University (Md.) is the culmination of four days of practices, appearances, interviews, community outreach activities and banquets.

“The first time down there, everything was new,” said Bison receiver Ryan Smith. “The second time, we were familiar with everything. I’m sure nothing has changed — the field will be the same, the events will be the same, and the hotel will be the same.”

And when it comes to everything being the same, nobody likes that better than NDSU. The Bison live and breathe a routine when they play at home or on the road.

In the case of Frisco, NDSU now knows the routine.

“It takes a lot of the nervousness out of it,” said senior defensive tackle Leevon Perry. “You’ve been there a couple of times. You still get nervous about who you’re playing because you never know what’s going to happen. They’re a great team and if we don’t show up we’re going to lose. But it’s a fun, fun time.”

The title game is different in that teams come in on Wednesday rather than the Friday of a Saturday game. The local organizing committee greets both teams at their respective hotel on Wednesday with a band and cheering contingent.

From there, it’s a steady diet of being organized.

“You never take it for granted, it’s never guaranteed so to have that opportunity is absolutely great,” said senior defensive tackle Danny Luecke.

Luecke said the best experience is just hanging with his teammates for four days.

“But the whole time you’re down there you know you’re there for a task and that’s first in your mind,” he said. “You see that in your teammates and it’s kind of a mixed emotion. You enjoy it, but you know you have a task in hand.”

Head coach Craig Bohl said preparation for the title game has been almost a carbon copy from the previous two years, even though the two weeks between the semifinal and title games is one week less than the previous two years.

“There’s a blueprint in place,” he said.

It’s a blueprint that his players — including 24 seniors — are very familiar with.

“I’m excited to get back down there,” said defensive end Kyle Emanuel. “I knew this program had potential but I never thought going down there for three straight years is something that would happen.”

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Jeff Kolpack
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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