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 — 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."
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.