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 was two years ago when Jack Plankers became the first Division I football recruit from Kindred, N.D. The community just southwest of Fargo didn’t have to wait long for the second. Quarterback/safety Eric Bachmeier gave the Bison a verbal commitment this week and will make it official on NCAA signing day in early February.
FARGO — North Dakota State will close November with a couple of practices and some weight training work. It’s been a pretty good month. “It’s been an exceptional month,” head coach Craig Bohl said. “I think our football team has gotten better. Now it’s another chapter, another season.” NDSU defeated Illinois State, Youngstown State and South Dakota in November to complete an 11-0 regular season and earn the No. 1 overall seed in the FCS playoffs. NDSU is one of eight teams to get a first-round bye and will play the winner of Furman and South Carolina State on Dec.
Joe Glenn is 64 years old and has coached at virtually every level of football. There is not much the University of South Dakota head coach hasn’t seen in his career. This season, however, has challenged that conventional wisdom. The Coyotes come to Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome on Saturday losers of four straight games. All went deep into the fourth quarter, but when push came to shove, it was USD who got pushed. “You know what though,” Glenn said. “Good teams make their own breaks.
The case appears closed as far as North Dakota State is concerned. At least publicly. Bison head coach Craig Bohl said Monday he had no comment on Youngstown State head coach Eric Wolford calling out the Bison for cheap shots in Saturday’s 35-17 Bison victory. “Eric and I are friends, so his comments … you know what, I was on the bus going home,” Bohl said.
FARGO — It was FCS championship week the last time Carlton Littlejohn practiced full time at middle linebacker. That ended up being Plan B because starter Grant Olson recovered enough from an appendicitis problem to play in the title game in Frisco, Texas. It’s Plan A this week. Littlejohn will start Saturday at Youngstown State and this time, it’s real. “I still have teammates out there helping me,” he said. “It’s not like I’m out there all alone by myself.
Grant Olson knew something was wrong. “I could tell my knee twisted in a way it had never twisted before,” Olson said. The senior middle linebacker for North Dakota State’s football team – described time and time again as the anchor of the defense, if not the entire team — was talking about last Saturday’s play that has not only ended his season, but his career. Olson tackled Illinois State running back Cameron Hunt on a routine play, the third play of the second half of NDSU’s 28-10 victory.
North Dakota State needs two victories in its final three regular-season games to put Brock Jensen in some rather elite FCS company. He’s two wins shy from tying the division’s all-time record for most wins by a quarterback. Jensen has 41 heading into today’s home game against Illinois State. He is tied with Eric Ward of Richmond from 2006-09. Armanti Edwards of Appalachian State has the record of 43 set in those same years. “Obviously, that’s very humbling,” Jensen said. “It’s an honor to be mentioned with those guys but you know what, I haven’t though much about it.
FARGO — The series is just in its infancy, but the prized Illinois State win over North Dakota State was in 2010. On a beautiful homecoming day in Normal, Ill., the Redbirds won 34-24. They did it with a devastating rushing attack that saw Ashton Leggett gain 146 yards and Erik Smith 113.
FARGO — About six times every fall, a quarterback in a light-colored jersey takes the Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome in front of 18,000-plus fans. Almost all of them are screaming at him. Not only is facing a stout North Dakota State defense a physical challenge, but so is communicating with your teammates.
FARGO — North Dakota State will play at home on Saturday afternoon for the first time in almost a month. Not much has changed since Bison fans last saw their team in person. That is a good thing. Everybody they saw in the lineup against Missouri State on Oct. 12 will be in the lineup against Illinois State for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game. The record remains unblemished at 8-0 and the No. 1 ranking in Division I FCS has not moved. The Bison went on the road and defeated two opponents, Southern Illinois and Indiana State, by a combined 87-20.