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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 26 2010

Bison football: Bye week much needed

North Dakota State players had the day off from practice Monday because they have the day off from a game on Saturday. When they return to the field in two weeks, they will be in a November playoff race for the first time in their brief Division I Football Championship Subdivision life.

The Bison moved up to No. 22 in the FCS coaches poll Monday at 5-3. They have three games remaining – at home against Southern Illinois and South Dakota State and at Missouri State – and will have to win all three to have a legitimate postseason chance.

“They always say you remember November,” said head coach Craig Bohl. “The biggest thing we need to do is take care of the business at hand and with the bye week, we need to improve as a football team. Is there a lot to play for? You bet there is. It’s a drastic contrast from this time a year ago.”

NDSU finished 3-8 last season. The Bison were 6-4 in 2008 heading into the last regular-season game with a slim chance that a win over SDSU would get them an at-large berth.

The Jackrabbits erased that thought with a 25-24 win at the Fargodome.

At 2-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the Bison are still on the lower end of the league. But they’re tied with Western Illinois for the best overall record in the conference.

Bohl said three key seniors – defensive tackle Matt Gratzek, fullback Lee Vandal and linebacker Matt Anderson – should be close to full strength for the SIU game. Gratzek came back from meniscus surgery in his knee last Saturday in the 27-15 win over Indiana State.

Vandal and Anderson have missed the last two games.

“And some guys that have played injured will hopefully heal up,” Bohl said. “I think the mood of our team is we’re catching our breath.”


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