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 — 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."
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — North Dakota State's defense was put to the supreme test in the second half, but held the fort at the UNI-Dome Saturday night. Linebacker Matt Plank's interception with 2 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the game, with the University of Northern Iowa staring at a go-ahead touchdown, was the difference and the Bison took a 24-20 victory. It pushed No. 4-ranked NDSU, 7-1 overall, into a first-place tie in the Missouri Valley Football Conference at 4-1. The loss most likely ended UNI's Division I FCS playoff hopes, falling to 3-5.
FARGO—Chris Klieman is in his sixth year with the North Dakota State football program and when it comes to playing Northern Iowa—his old school—there are no longer any connections to players. There is nobody on the Panthers roster he even helped recruit. So, for the most part, that Klieman-heading-back-to-UNI story has left the building.
FARGO—Senior Aaron Bailey is the returning, veteran quarterback for Northern Iowa. Sophomore Eli Dunne has the hot hand, setting a team record last week for most passing yards in a school debut. So who will start Saturday against North Dakota State? The head coach isn't saying. "Still question marks there," Northern Iowa head coach Mark Farley said.
FARGO — The best thing, Chase Morlock was told, was to get right back into a routine and that's what he has done. Every day, the North Dakota State senior running back goes to class and heads over to football practice — life as he's known it for four years now. That doesn't mean it's always easy.
FARGO—The school is better known for basketball and its historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, but the administration at Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind., this week feels like it drained a 3-point game-winning field goal at the buzzer with the football program. It's all on board playing North Dakota State in 2019 at Target Field in Minneapolis.
FARGO — It was at the end of fall camp when North Dakota State head football coach Chris Klieman summoned sophomore wide receiver Dallas Freeman to his office. It wasn't like a principal calling in a student because he was in trouble. Far from it. Klieman gave Freeman the news that after two years as a walk-on with the Bison program, his third year was going to be rewarded with a scholarship. So it wasn't long after leaving the Fargodome offices when Freeman called home to St. Michael, Minn., to tell his parents Terry and Patricia.
FARGO — North Dakota State will be returning to Minneapolis to play a football game, only this time it won't be the University of Minnesota. The Bison and Butler University will face each other at Target Field on Aug. 31, 2019. "Generally speaking, Bison fans are Twins fans who have come to love our ballpark," said Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter. "And I expect they'll love it for football as well."
FARGO — A year ago at this time North Dakota State was 5-2 with some nagging question marks on the future of its FCS football playoff run. As of Monday, the Bison are 6-1 with the toughest schedule in school history. So for the imperfections that have plagued the team so far this season, the ultimate result still has the Bison as the No. 4-ranked team in the FCS top 25 coaches poll and a second place standing in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The key, of course, will be to match last season's late-season improvement.