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—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—The two-time defending champions are back at it again in the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament. Bismarck Century displayed a combination of front row power and a defense that never rested in sweeping Devils Lake 25-20, 25-10, 25-20 in the first round Thursday, Nov. 16. The Patriots improved to 32-8 with their 12th straight win, and avoided the upset bug that plagued pre-tournament favorite West Fargo earlier in the day. Century's last loss was to the Packers, a team that beat Century three times this season.
FARGO — It's been a popular Twitter post this week by former North Dakota State football players still trying to live their NFL dreams. It included a care package of Bison swag like a stocking cap, a cup and a T-shirt delivered to their door. It's a nice touch to keep the alums engaged. Another former NDSU player now in the NFL got his care package in person last weekend in Fargo. Jerry Rosburg, the current associate head coach for the Baltimore Ravens, took advantage of the team's bye week to attend a reunion of his 1977 Bison North Central Conference title team.
FARGO—Opening night at Illinois State this season was a Sept. 2 non-conference game against Butler University (Ind.), with the first 2,000 fans in attendance receiving a Brock Spack "bobblehead." There was some foreshadowing in that. The Redbirds have bobbled up and down, at times looking like a top 10 FCS team and at other times like a bottom feeder in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The bottom line is they most likely need to beat North Dakota State on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 15, to reach the 24-team FCS playoff bracket.
FARGO—It's not certain how flexible James Hendricks' neck is, but the North Dakota State sophomore must have a pretty good rotational aspect to it. He did so many jobs in practice last week that it would make most players' head spin. The backup safety, and also the team's backup quarterback, played 55 snaps at linebacker in the 49-14 win against the University of South Dakota. The kicker: Hendricks had never played linebacker in his life until last week in practice.
FARGO—There's been the hopscotch of dealing with injuries to key players, which North Dakota State has had its share. There's been the constant attention of five or six Missouri Valley Football Conference teams ranked in the top 25 FCS polls. There was the fall-back from failing to win the Dakota Marker for a second straight year, followed by last week's resurgent running game and a 49-14 convincing defeat of the University of South Dakota.