The NDSU ‘Bison’ host the UND ‘Fighting Hawks’ in bid to revive the Nickel. Next year UND will be joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference. And finally the University of North Dakota will be in the same conference as North Dakota State. An abomination that has gone on since 2003 when NDSU moved up from Division II, to the FCS. UND waited a couple more years and ended up in the Big Sky Conference. In the mean time NDSU has dominated their Conference and the entire FCS. UND has struggled in the Big Sky. UND head coach ‘Bubba’ Schweigert has put together some very good teams, especial last year, but many of his best players have graduated, and his starting quarterback, Nate Ketteringham was injured last week. Backup Quarterback, Andrew Zimmerman (Senior) will be playing today. The odds makers give NDSU a large point spread, but I’m hoping the game will be much closer. If for no other reason than to relight the in-state rivalry.
The NDSU ‘Bison’ host the Butler ‘Bulldogs’ at a neutral site. However it is considered a Home game, and Target Field is a sea of Green and Gold by kickoff for the first game of the Bison’s 2019 season.
Questions will be answered about the 2019 Bison today. NDSU is a team that since 1963 has been great. Its fans announce, “We don’t rebuild. We reload.” But at what point is that no longer true? When you have a new Coach? When he brings in new coordinators? How about a new quarterback(s)? What if you also had a very large graduating class (24) in 2018? These are the challenges facing the 2019 Bison Football Team.
Working in favor of another reload year: the Bison return seven starters from last year’s 15–0 National Championship team: OL Dillon Radunz, OL Zack Johnson, TE Ben Ellefson, LB Jabril Cox, DE Derrek Tuszka, FS James Hendricks, and CB Marquise Bridges. STATS FCS named five as preseason All-Americans including: Cox, Johnson, Radunz, Tuszka, and punter Garret Wegner. Wagner is also on the list for FCS Punter of the Year. Cox is on STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award watch list for top defensive player in the FCS. LB Aaron Mercadel has received a sixth year of eligibility due to injuries. This brings the senior class count to 14.
In addition to these starters are Bison who may not have started in 2018 but certainly played dozens of snaps when the Bison took overwhelming leads into the fourth quarter.
2018 Defensive Coordinator Matt Entz moves into the Head Coach position. Matt brings in coaching talent from around the country, but most coordinator positions were filled from within. This includes the ranks of former players: Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends/Fullbacks Coach Tyler Roehl, and Linebackers Coach Grant Olson. Associate Head Coach/Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterback Coach Randy Hedberg and Strength/Conditioning Coach Jim Kramer remain to continue their outstanding work.
But if the players don’t gel as a team, or if the coaches screw-up, the football teams in the Missouri Valley will make NDSU pay. There are no sure things in football. How will this year shake out? Today we’ll see the first trial of the 2019 Bison.
This week the NDSU ‘Bison’ take their 14–0 unbeaten record down to Frisco, TX to defend their national title against the Eastern Washington ‘Eagles’ (12–2) in the NCAA FCS Championship Game.
The Bison have been to Frisco six times and won each time, but history tells you little about any team’s chances. The Bison are wearing their lucky green “Harvest Helmet” (13–0 since 2015) but you can’t rely on luck. The Bison rely on hard work.
This is the first FCS championship game between teams from the the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) and the Big Sky Conference. This is hard to believe as both conferences are so dominate in the NCAA FCS. Combined they had 26 teams reach the Championship game but never at the same time.
The NDSU ‘Bison’ have the edge today if only because they are undefeated. Only four teams have matched this feat in the FCS: Eastern Kentucky (1982), Georgia Southern (1989), Marshall (1996) and NDSU (2013).
NDSU and EWU have played three times. In the 2010 FCS quarterfinals, the Eagles won 38–31 in overtime, which stopped the Bison’s playoff run. (The Eagles went on to win the National Championship that year.) In 2016 NDSU won at home 50–44 in overtime again. In 2017 the Bison won 40–13 at Cheney WA. But that was a young Eagles team. Coach Aaron Best has his 2018 team in playoff form with 27 seniors. Will the Bison stomp the Eagles? Will today’s game going into overtime? Or will the Eagles fly high and outscore the Bison?
Head Coach Chris Klieman; players: Easton Stick, Dan Marlette, and Seth Wilson met with the media following their 44–21 playoff win over South Dakota State
NDSU Head Coach, Chris Klieman
(I’m losing) my voice again, but I’m gonna start with this: never underestimate the power of people that love each other and support each other. Because.. All the things that happened this week.. all it did was galvanize that locker room. All it did was bring everybody closer together. I know people thought it was gonna pull us apart; thought it was gonna be a distraction. (But those) people don’t know (our) locker room. (We) have 24 unbelievable seniors. We have a bunch of coaches that do love and care about each other. I’m a firm believer: if you’re honest with people and let them know what’s going on: they’ll be okay. They’ll buy into it and say, ‘Okay coach. If it happens we’re happy for you.’ I can’t thank Matt Larson (NDSU Athletic Director) enough for allowing me to finish this journey with these 24 guys. I told him, ‘I brought them all in here: some true seniors and some five-year seniors. I gonna go out with them.’ (I) can’t thank those guys enough. I can’t thank Matt Larson enough. I can’t thank Gene Taylor (Kansas State Athletic Directory and former NDSU AD) and the support of the Kansas State Athletic Department..to say, ‘Hey, finish what (you) started (at NDSU).’ That means the world to me. The next thing I’ll say before I open up for questions is: Easton Stick is the best player in college football period. He’s the best player in college football and we’re lucky to have him. We were down a bunch of guys and I said, ‘Easton you may (have to) carry the thing (football) 30 times, but we’re gonna ride you.’ And he said, ‘Let’s just keep going coach.’
The NDSU ‘Bison’ host the SDSU ‘Jackrabbits’ in the semifinal game of the NCAA FCS playoffs.
The unbeaten Bison are still ranked #1. SDSU is ranked #5 but could easily be #2 due to their strength of schedule, and playing in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC). The ‘Jacks’ came closest to beating the Bison earlier this year 21 to 17. The Jacks are designed from the ground up to play the Bison, having played them 108 times since 1903. Will this be the game that punches the Jacks’ ticket to Frisco or will the Bison make their seventh trip to the National Championship Game to take on #3 Eastern Washington?
NDSU Head Coach, Chris Klieman; DE #91 Derrek Tuszka, WR #83 Dallas Freeman, QB #12 Easton Stick, and RB #8 Bruce Anderson discuss their FCS Playoff win over Colgate.
NDSU Head Coach, Chris Klieman
Let’s start off by congratulating Colgate. That’s a really good football team, (they’re) well coached. I mentioned to their coach before the game how impressed I was with their football team, and after the game as well. They’re well coached, they are disciplined, they’re hard nosed kids, and (I) have a lot of respect for those guys.
On the flip side, I have a ton of respect for our guys. They had a great week of practice. (Our players) had great focus and energy. We tried to change the narrative on them a little bit.. (regarding who) I thought.. is the best defense in FCS. I think we probably proved that out today. We challenged the offense, challenge the ‘Rams’, (and) challenge the offense, ’If we can get nine points, we got a chance because (the Raiders) don’t give up a whole lot (of points). Our guys took it to heart. We had a pretty spirited Thursday and Friday (practice.) Our guys were focused and ready to play. I’m excited for (our) guys. Take nothing away from Colgate: that’s a really good team and an excellent program. (I have) so much respect for Coach Hunt, but the Bison were gonna be pretty tough to beat today.
The NCAA FCS Quarterfinal game between the NDSU ‘Bison’ and the Colgate ‘Raiders’ was played Saturday morning in the Fargodome.
The Bison and the Raiders have never met on the field before. Coming into this game Colgate had only lost one game this season and that was to Army. They also posted five shut-outs. More impressive, they beat the James Madison ‘Dukes’ 23 to 20 last week in the second round of playoffs. JMU was on everyone’s short list to go to Frisco, TX for the National Championship game. On paper the Raiders have the best defense in the FCS. Would Colgate prove it on Gate City field?