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 — Halfway through the Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule, it's a whole lot of North Dakota State, a little bit of Northern Iowa and a whole lot of 2-2 teams. The second half of the season is shaping up to be a convoluted run at an FCS playoff berth. The Bison are in control at 4-0 in the Valley, 7-0 overall. UNI is 3-1 and Illinois State, South Dakota State, Missouri State, South Dakota, Western Illinois and Youngstown State are all 2-2.
FARGO — The Ed Sheeran concert last week at the Fargodome was an exercise in show infrastructure, according to eyewitness reports. The number of trucks, amount of gear and the time of removal threatened a potential Bison indoor practice. Darrius Shepherd would have taken care of it. That cold front that blew in Friday night, Oct. 19, making a short memory of the fantastic fall weather event on Thursday? Shepherd could have prevented it. Global warming. Rising cost of higher education. Politics. Let Darrius handle those matters, too. Why not?
FARGO — It took until halfway through the regular season, but North Dakota State may get its first test of running back depth on Saturday, Oct. 20. Leading ground gainer Bruce Anderson is questionable for a showdown against Illinois State. If that's the case, sophomore Adam Cofield may see his first carries with the final score in doubt. "I'm ready for my opportunity," Cofield said.
FARGO — Name the famous Hollywood detectives — Inspector Clouseau, Mannix or Columbo — it may take all of them in one big show to figure out a mystery inside the North Dakota State football locker room. Nobody knows who came up with a nickname as common as the Thundar mascot. Code Green. It's the description given to the NDSU defense. Bison senior defensive tackle Blake Williams thought it was cause for alarm when he first came to school from Washington, Mich.
FARGO — Football players at Marian University in Indianapolis were prodding assistant coach Steve Tutsie to leave their game early. Marian led Taylor University (Ind.) 45-0 after three quarters and the outcome was already in hand. The Marian defensive starters knew Tutsie had something else going on that day. His son, North Dakota State freshman safety Michael Tutsie, had a football game more than 300 miles west in Macomb, Ill.
FARGO — The 2014 season was historic for the Illinois State football team. It came within 1 minute, 1 second of being really historic. That's how long it took North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz to lead a last-minute drive that defeated the Redbirds 29-27 in the NCAA Division I FCS national title game in Frisco, Texas. ISU followed that with a 10-3 record in 2015. But the ensuing 6-6 and 6-5 seasons didn't measure up to the standard head coach Brock Spack set for the program, so he did something about it. He made wholesale changes in his coaching staff.
FARGO — The North Dakota State defense didn't get out of Macomb, Ill., on Saturday, Oct. 13, without getting into trouble. The Bison were found guilty without the benefit of a trial of stealing ... the football. NDSU forced five turnovers in the 34-7 victory at Western Illinois, bringing its turnover margin to plus-10 on the season. That ranks tied for second in NCAA Division I FCS with 14 forced turnovers by the NDSU defense and four turnovers by the offense.
FARGO—Two of North Dakota State's marquee players who left Saturday's game at Western Illinois may return to practice this week. Running back Bruce Anderson and safety Robbie Grimsley sustained lower leg injuries, head coach Chris Klieman confirmed Sunday, Oct. 14. Anderson was injured in the second quarter after a 16-yard run that helped set up a Bison touchdown. Grimsley left late in the game.
MACOMB, Ill.—Trying to decipher Division I FCS football on a Saturday-by-Saturday basis is like trying to figure out why the folks in this area of Illinois have little interest in watching the home team. It's difficult. Western Illinois University has been pretty good over the years, very good last season, yet the fans don't seem to care. The students were on break Saturday night, Oct. 13, when North Dakota State came to town. We'll give a partial pass for that.
FARGO — About the only thing missing in Saturday, Oct. 13's North Dakota State at Western Illinois Missouri Valley Football Conference game will be a natural grass field. One that can create mud on a rainy day. That would add emphasis to an already old-school football feeling Bison defensive tackle Aaron Steidl has heading into it. NDSU's first outdoor game of the season will be played on the artificial turf at Hanson Field in Macomb, Ill.