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Bison looking to avoid rare two-game losing streak against USD on Saturday

Darrius Shepherd of North Dakota State gets the ball stripped by Marshon Harris of South Dakota State Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Brookings, S.D. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

FARGO—North Dakota State woke up on Sunday morning, Nov. 5, with a feeling they haven't experienced all season: dealing with a loss.

But for the last eight years, it hasn't lingered. The last time the Bison lost two consecutive football games was Oct. 17 and 24 in 2009, when they lost at South Dakota State and at home to Missouri State. It was the latter end of a five-game losing streak in a season that ended 3-8.

It's been virtually Victory Lane since, with all 12 losses starting in 2010 having been followed by a win. To avoid the two-game skein, the Bison will have to turn back the University of South Dakota after a 33-21 defeat at SDSU on Saturday.

"Going back and looking at it, it was the same thing we talked about after the game," said head coach Chris Klieman. "Kids played really hard. Our execution wasn't where it needed to be and I don't think we made great in-game adjustments and that starts with me. I have to do a better job on the sidelines with my suggestions offensively and defensively and we didn't do a good job collectively. So we're going to learn from it, were going to move on and get ready for USD this week."

It promises to be another battle with a highly-ranked team. The Coyotes will come to Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome Saturday, Nov. 11, on a two-game losing streak of their own, but still owning a No. 10 ranking in the FCS top 25 coaches poll.

The Bison, meanwhile, dropped like a light rock, going from second to sixth. NDSU is No. 5 in the top 25 media poll. Both those polls, however, are much less significant than the second rankings that the Division I Football Championship Committee will release Thursday night at halftime of the Georgia Southern and Appalachian State game that starts at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

Klieman said at his weekly press conference that he has other matters to worry about than a rankings committee poll.

"We have to take care of what we need to take care of and that's play good football on Saturday," he said.

The Bison may have to do it without junior linebacker Levi Jordheim, who Klieman said is questionable this week with a knee injury suffered against the Jackrabbits. He said it's not ligament-related and the medical staff is still trying to decide if it's something that could keep him out three to four weeks or just a few days.

"We'll know more Tuesday or Wednesday if there's a 50-50 chance to play," Klieman said. "If he can't, we'll adjust."

The first adjustment would be for Chris Board to return to the starting lineup. The senior has been out since early last month with a knee injury. Board played on special teams against SDSU.

"We're hoping that he's a week stronger," Klieman said.

The starting linebacker trio against the Coyotes as of Monday, Nov. 6, are seniors Nick DeLuca and Matt Plank and freshman Jabril Cox.

Offensively, Klieman said, the Bison need to do better than the 55 plays they ran against SDSU. Part of that were five turnovers, which were the most since committing five at Northern Iowa in 2008 and the second-most in the Division I era since six turnovers at Northern Colorado in 2004.

"We're not going to reinvent the wheel, just going to do it better and were excited about playing at home," Klieman said.

What: South Dakota at North Dakota State

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11

Where: Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome

Radio: 107.9-FM,92.7-FM,1660-AM. TV: KVLY

Jeff Kolpack

Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at 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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