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 — To make the selection that Carson Wentz is The Forum's "Sports Story of the Year" is almost akin to John Hoeven winning the North Dakota Senate race running virtually unopposed. It wasn't a matter of who was going to be the top vote getter, but more of an issue of what element of the Wentz saga was the best? It was a multiple choice question with four possible answers: • Leading his North Dakota State football team to its fifth straight FCS national title, the most consecutive championships in college football history.
FARGO — So at LSU and Stanford, it appears that brotherhood thing of college football and your teammates is not all that binding, that planning for your future is more important than the immediate future of the Tigers and Cardinal. The team. The team. No one person more important than the other. We're all in it together.
FARGO — The NCAA on Wednesday, Dec. 21, approved the medical hardship for North Dakota State linebacker Nick DeLuca, who will get another year of football eligibility and return for his senior season next year. The action was expected since DeLuca had met the general NCAA standards for a hardship. To be eligible for a medical waiver, a player cannot compete in more than 30 percent of the season or three games, whichever is greater. The injury also has to occur in the first half of the season and has to be incapacitating.
FARGO — North Dakota State started its FCS football dynasty in 2011 with a 17-6 win over Sam Houston State (Texas). Both teams did the unusual the following season by returning to the title game in Frisco, Texas. That was the end of Frisco for Sam Houston, however, which hasn't been back since. The Bison faced Towson University (Md.) in 2013 and won convincingly against a Tigers team that came into the game as a formidable foe.
FARGO — There will be no wondering if the renovation of Toyota Stadium and the temporary reduction of seating will affect the thousands of North Dakota State fans that descend to Frisco, Texas, every January. There will be no app showing the masses on their way to the Texas border. And there will be no NDSU flag tied to the Texas state line sign. It had to end sometime, somewhere and somehow. And James Madison University running back Khalid Abdullah put up a stop sign that the rest of the Division I FCS subdivision was probably wondering if it would ever come.
FARGO — Physical football. It's a phrase that has been a staple of the North Dakota State football during its run of FCS excellence, almost to the point of it being accepted like the school's nickname. A 20-play drive that took 12 minutes off the clock against South Dakota State? That's physical football. A defense that ranks third in the FCS in fewest points allowed at 15.8 per game? That's physical football. The title of its offense, West Coast, that is based on a "power" running game? Again, physical football.
FARGO — North Dakota State junior Grant Morgan started the season as a defensive tackle hoping to further his contributions in the Bison football lineup. He's ending the year as a go-to starter who's being counted on to make a difference. The signature play to date came last weekend when he sliced through the South Dakota State offensive line and tackled running back Brady Mengarelli for a safety. It was a key swing play in the quarterfinal win over the Jackrabbits that gave the Bison a semifinal matchup Friday, Dec. 16, against James Madison University.
FARGO—It was just an innocent-looking quick pass from North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick to receiver Darrius Shepherd late in the game against South Dakota State last Saturday. Shepherd had two SDSU defensive backs to contend with, but he also had receiver Dimitri Williams on the edge to block for him. Williams essentially took out both Jackrabbits and Shepherd rambled 67 yards for a touchdown. It was the final dagger in the 36-10 quarterfinal win at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome, but it was also an example of what Williams brings to the Bison table.
FARGO—California Davis had North Dakota State in a double-digit hole in the second half Wednesday night, Dec. 14. Based on recent history between these teams, that's exactly where the Bison wanted the Aggies. It may not have been as dramatic as last year's men's basketball game at Davis, but it had some serious punch nonetheless. Yes, the Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Center can make a difference after all.
FARGO — When James Madison travels to Fargo to play at North Dakota State this week, the argument can be made it's just another in a line of tough road games for the Dukes. They've been used to the routine all season. James Madison had what head coach Mike Houston said was probably the most challenging road slate in the Colonial Athletic Association this season. The Dukes played at Maine, New Hampshire, Richmond and Villanova in their four league games away from home, with those four having a combined 33-18 overall record and 22-10 in the CAA.