Lehigh not a typical Patriot League opponentFARGO — North Dakota State’s Craig Bohl has participated in some big-time bowl games as a player and coach, but the Bison coach says nothing compares to a playoff run.
By: Jeff Kolpack, Forum Communications Co.
FARGO — North Dakota State got a test of the Patriot League in the second game of the season against Lafayette College. It was a relatively easy quiz.
The final exam on Saturday is expected to be significantly tougher in both preparation and playing. Lehigh (Pa.) is not your average Patriot team.
“Not at all,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. “I know people say the Patriot League, the Patriot League. They’re 11-1. You look at the Sagarin (power) ratings and they’re up there.”
The Bison host the Mountain Hawks Saturday at 2:05 p.m. in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals. The Bison knocked off Lafayette 42-6 in their first-ever game against a Patriot team on Sept. 3 at the Fargodome.
But in the comparative score game, Lehigh stomped Lafayette 37-13 in the most-played rivalry in college football. And in the comparative team game, Bohl referenced NDSU’s rival — South Dakota State.
“The top South Dakota State teams that were hardy, strong, rugged, disciplined and played really hard,” Bohl said. “That’s what you have — plus that quarterback.”
The quarterback is Chris Lum, a finalist for the Walter Payton Award that goes to FCS’ top offensive player. He’s completed 333 of 491 passes for 4,090 yards – yardage rarely seen in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Lum led the Mountain Hawks to a 40-38 road win over Colonial Athletic Association champion Towson State (Md.) in last Saturday’s second round. Lehigh’s only loss was to CAA playoff team New Hampshire 48-41 in overtime in the second game of the year.
“I think the Patriot League has gotten a little better with competing with other leagues,” Lum said. “We play CAA teams every year. We lost to New Hampshire in overtime but we came up with a big win over Towson. The better teams in our league can compete with the best teams in the nation.”
Lehigh did that last year in the playoffs shocking Northern Iowa 14-7 at the UNI-Dome in the first round.
“The Patriot League had not been faring well in the playoffs before the Northern Iowa game,” Lum said. “That game was greater than just our team. We were representing our school but also the Patriot League. We recognize that and we’re aware of that.”
Lehigh reached the 1979 FCS finals losing to Eastern Kentucky, but that’s when the division was in its second year and had just four playoff teams. Lehigh also knocked off Western Illinois of the Missouri Valley 37-7 in 2000.
The Patriot’s success story is the 2003 Colgate team that reached the FCS title game in a 16-team field.
“When you’re in the quarterfinals, all the teams are good,” Bohl said.
Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.