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A staple of consistency: Bison ranked in top 25 for 100th straight week

Lance Dunn of North Dakota State carries against Western Illinois Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, at the Fargodome. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

FARGO—Monday marked a milestone of sorts for North Dakota State football in terms of combining excellence and consistency. The Bison maintained their No. 2 standing in the top 25 poll—the 100th straight week NDSU reached the FCS media rankings.

The Bison have appeared in every poll since Nov. 1, 2010.

"The amazing thing about the run is they should have been ranked 1 or 2 almost the entire time," said Craig Haley, FCS senior editor for STATS. "When they weren't, they probably should have been. They've been the FCS standard."

James Madison maintained the top spot with its 19th win in a row. The Dukes received 157 first-place votes to NDSU's nine. The Bison, JMU and North Carolina A&T remained the only undefeated teams in the FCS after a couple of teams suffered their first loss last weekend.

It doesn't get any easier for the Bison, who host Northern Iowa Saturday afternoon, Oct. 28, at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. The Panthers have won two straight games against teams that were ranked in the top 10 in South Dakota State and Youngstown State, moving back into the FCS playoff picture at 4-3 overall. UNI is one game back in the Missouri Valley Football Conference at 3-1, only trailing 4-0 NDSU.

"It will be two physical teams going at it," Bison head coach Chris Klieman said Monday, Oct. 23.

The physical league has taken a toll on running backs at NDSU, which will probably be without starter Lance Dunn. He suffered a hip injury in last weekend's 24-12 victory against Western Illinois and Klieman termed his status as doubtful for the Panthers.

He's not expected to practice Monday and Tuesday and will be evaluated as the week progresses.

"In the same respect, we need to be smart with him," Klieman said. "We need him for the long haul."

At least it appears sophomore Ty Brooks will return to the backfield rotation this week to back up Bruce Anderson, Klieman said. Brooks has been out with a couple of injuries this season. The latest is a hamstring issue suffered against Indiana State three weeks ago.

"It gives us another back to help us with Bruce," Klieman said.

Junior receiver Dimitri Williams took some handoffs during pregame warmups against Western Illinois, but Klieman said there is no firm answer yet for an emergency, third-string back.

"We have to work around a few things back there," he said.

NDSU also remained No. 2 in the FCS coaches top 25 rankings. Six teams from the Valley appear in the poll with UNI slipping in at No. 25. If anybody is in tune to knocking off top 10 teams, it is the Panthers.

NDSU was the last FCS team to beat two top 10 teams in successive weeks, doing it at the beginning of last year in beating Charleston Southern and Eastern Washington. Before that, UNI defeated top 10 Illinois State and NDSU in back-to-back games in 2014.