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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 13 2010

Bison notebook: Seniors in danger of never winning Dakota Marker

The seniors on the North Dakota State football team are in danger of playing four years without seeing the Dakota Marker. There was no need for a reminder of that this week.

South Dakota State has won the last three matchups.

“That’s been talked about,” said Bison defensive tackle Matt Gratzek. “The last time it was here we were redshirts. It’s time for it to come back.”

The Marker, a 78-pound replica of stone monuments constructed along the border in the 1890s, was established when both schools started the Division I transition in 2004.

It’s also Senior Night for NDSU, marking the last home game for seniors Gratzek, tight end Landon Smith, linebacker Matt Anderson, cornerbacks Josh Gatlin, Freddie Banks and Derrius Colvin, receivers Titus Mack and Gary Williams, offensive lineman Michael Arndt, punter John Prelvitz, noseguard Matt Phillips, safety Cyrus Lemon and fullbacks Drew Hushka and Lee Vandal.

“Quite frankly, it’s emotional for me,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. “As you stand out there and the senior runs out … I remember Matt Gratzek and Matt Anderson and being in their homes (recruiting) and seeing how these guys have done so much for our program. I’m sure some of the guys will have so many emotions.”

Jackrabbits come on after another slow start

The Jackrabbits started this season 0-4 and it’s not the first time the program has gotten off to a slow start this decade. They began the 2006 and 2007 seasons 0-3, but rebounded both years to contend for conference titles.

“I don’t know what it is,” said SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier. “I think sometimes – I don’t know if this is critical or patting ourselves on the back –we overcoach things early in the season. We overcoach how people run plays and if kids become robots, they can’t adjust to, hey, this is a different defense or different play.

“That’s my nature, though; that’s how I was brought up. You leave nothing by chance and I would hate to go into a game not having overprepared, but maybe we have to become better at adjusting during those games.”

The ’06 team won seven straight before being beaten by NDSU 41-28 at the Fargodome for the Great West Conference title. It was also NDSU’s last win in the series.

Etc. etc. etc.

- NDSU was ranked 17th in this week’s Division I Football Championship Subdivision Gridiron Power Index. Fellow league teams Northern Iowa is tied for 10th and Western Illinois is 13th. The Missouri Valley, ranked second last week, fell to third while the Big Sky moved into second.

- SDSU has scored 30, 30, 31 and 33 points in its last four games. “We played better defense in three of those games which allows you to get the ball back to your offense,” Stiegelmeier said.

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