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 — The usual plan for North Dakota State punt returner Darrius Shepherd is to return a kick only if it looks like he won't get immediately tackled. In other words, play it safe. He heeded that plan to perfection, and then some, Saturday afternoon. Shepherd brought a punt back 84 yards for a touchdown and the Bison never looked back in stomping Indiana State 41-17 at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
FARGO—Something happened to his knee in practice during the week, Nate Tanguay said, that didn't feel right. Unfortunately, it may have been some sort of precursor for what was to come for the North Dakota State defensive tackle. The play against Youngstown State last Saturday, Nov. 5, wasn't anything out of the ordinary. He was pushing on a Penguin offensive lineman while trying to get to the quarterback. Tanguay turned, sort of twisted. And he just buckled to the turf.
FARGO — The worst-case scenario when it came to the evaluation of Nate Tanguay's knee injury came true when the North Dakota State standout defensive tackle was diagnosed with a torn ACL. It is yet another blow to a Bison defense that also saw its best player, middle linebacker Nick DeLuca, get sidelined for the season.
FARGO—What started as a crowded backfield of at least four running backs is now down to two, with the argument that one is the only true tailback remaining. Lance Dunn said he's up to the task. The sophomore is most likely slated to get the bulk of the carries when the Bison host Youngstown State Saturday at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. Senior King Frazier is out for at least another week with a rib injury and sophomore Bruce Anderson is still sidelined with a sprained ankle.
FARGO — For the second straight week, North Dakota State is spending its week of practice preparing for two quarterbacks. And once again, it's a runner versus thrower proposition. Trying to plan for Northern Iowa last week was spent figuring out the strengths of option quarterback Aaron Bailey and deciding how good of a passer sophomore Eli Dunne was in his first start. Bailey never did play because of a sore throwing shoulder and the Bison did just enough against Dunne to come away with a 24-20 win.
FARGO—North Dakota State was ranked fourth in the initial poll of the Football Championship Subdivision playoff committee, which was released Thursday on ESPNU. It was the first in-season release by the committee, which is following a footprint established by the FBS College Football Playoff, which also released its first rankings this week. The Bison are behind No. 3 Eastern Washington, No. 2 Sam Houston State and top seed Jacksonville State (Ala.).
FARGO—In a move similar to the FBS College Football Playoffs, the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff committee is going down the road of releasing a preliminary list of its rankings. The first one will be announced Thursday, Nov. 3, at 3 p.m. on the ESPNU "CFB Daily" show. The news is being met with positivity within the Missouri Valley Football Conference, from Associate Commissioner Mike Kern to head coaches. The playoff committee met by teleconference on Tuesday to rank the top 10 teams for this week.
FARGO — The first document architect Terry Stroh has on the Bison Sports Arena renovation is dated 2005, meaning Wednesday night was the culmination of 11 years of working on the project. He was like the proverbial kid in the candy store. The Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex is a Division I candy store, an arena that was an easy sell to the 2,588 fans, players and coaches for an opening night review. North Dakota State opened its men's basketball season with a 90-53 victory over Concordia College, but the real winner was the facility.
FARGO — It took until the eighth game of the year before Zack J. Johnson got to play next to North Dakota State teammate Zack Johnson. "Yeah, it finally happened," said Zack J. Johnson. "Finally broke that barrier." The barrier was Zack J. Johnson, a left tackle from Blaine, Minn., getting on the field for an extensive amount of time for the first time in his redshirt freshman season. That came last Saturday, when he played 12 plays in the 24-20 win at Northern Iowa. Zack Johnson is the Bison senior left guard from Apple Valley, Minn.
FARGO — Chris Klieman has a message on expectations for his North Dakota State football players, who have won five straight FCS national titles: Just play football. That was evident early last week when the head coach watched the film of his team's win over Western Illinois two weeks ago. It wasn't so much what happened on the field, Klieman said, but what didn't happen on the sideline. Nobody got real excited over a good play. "It was more like, 'Whew, we dodged another bullet,'" Klieman said. "That's part of expectations, I know."