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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 21 2010

Bison football: Suddenly, Sycamores are hot

The remarkable change is something out of a science fiction movie, only this is college football. It was about this time last year when Indiana State was trying to break the nation’s longest losing streak at 33 games.

The Sycamores scheduled Quincy College to start the season and that didn’t even work – the lower level NAIA team won the opener.

“Our young men know where they come from,” said head coach Trent Miles.

The streak breaker came against Western Illinois and Saturday’s game against North Dakota State at the Fargodome will mark the 364th-day anniversary of it. Ironically, Western Illinois and Indiana State lead the Missouri Valley Football Conference with one league loss each along with Northern Iowa.

The Sycamores have won three straight and are the slam dunk, feel-good turnaround story of the year.

“First of all, the commitment by Indiana State several years ago to be committed to football,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. “They had an upgrade in facilities. I appreciate the leadership of the athletic director and Trent being in it for the long haul.”

Yet, one streak still remains: consecutive road losses. That’s at 35 games with the last win in 2004. The last conference win away from home was in 2002 at Southern Illinois.

“That’s quite a few years,” Miles said. “I don’t even remember where I was back then.”

So the Sycamores have gone from worst for many years to currently first. No longer is Miles quipping about his wife calling into the Missouri Valley weekly coaches teleconference because nobody cared about the Sycamores.

On Wednesday, Miles put the conference call behind schedule because he took so many questions.

“We’re just trying to worry about each week,” he said. “We haven’t been in a position like this in a long time. I don’t know if we ever have. It’s a good position to be in but at the same time, we have to focus on what we do.”

Saturday is the third road game of the year for ISU, which dropped identical 40-7 games to Cincinnati and Western Illinois. But the Sycamores have also averaged 51 points in the past three games.

Two of those were against Illinois State and Missouri State.

“They have a lot more confidence with the three-game winning streak, that will help any team out,” said NDSU quarterback Jose Mohler. “Last year they were kind of the lower end of our league, but they have a lot more swagger.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia