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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 16 2010

Bison football: A win Saturday may seal playoff spot

It’s simple for North Dakota State this Saturday: win and the Bison are in all likelihood in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

They travel to Missouri State for the season finale and at 7-3 overall, a victory would virtually guarantee an at-large berth in the

20-team field.

Northern Iowa will take the automatic bid from the Missouri Valley Football Conference after clinching the league title last Saturday.

“I think this week, we can realistically talk about, ‘Listen guys, the playoff potential is there,’ ” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl.

But Bohl wasn’t real comfortable Monday talking about playoffs, instead saying the attention this week needs to be on the Bears. NDSU was ranked 17th in the FCS top 25 coaches poll, but the more important rating is the Gridiron Power Index, which the NCAA selection committee uses as a barometer for at-large selections.

NDSU was 17th last week and defeated a team, South Dakota State, which was 23rd.

It’s possible a seven-win team could reach the field based on the results across the FCS this season. The Bison got to seven wins last Saturday with the 31-24 win over SDSU, an emotionally charged battle at the Fargodome that got the Dakota Marker back to Fargo.

It could also be a problem this week simply because of the intensity of the rivalry. The Bison players woke up Monday morning having to put that game in the past and Bohl said revisiting the same rivalry emotions from the SDSU game are not realistic against the Bears.

“But we have to play with great energy because we have a lot to play for,” Bohl said. “The Dakota Marker to our players is a big, big thing. That doesn’t mean we can’t play well so we have to pay attention to detail and focus on playing this game and this game means a lot.”

NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor has already submitted a bid to the NCAA to host a first-round playoff game. The NCAA puts out a request for all teams in contention for a playoff spot.

The minimum bid for the first two rounds is $30,000. It’s $50,000 for the quarterfinals and $75,000 for the semifinals. The NCAA gets 75 percent of gross ticket sales, which is included in the minimum bid.

“I’m sure the selection committees have a whole agenda on how they go through it,” Bohl said. “The best thing we can do is play winning football.”

Bohl, who votes in the FCS top 25 poll, did say the old adage of needing a minimum of eight wins to reach the playoffs “can be thrown out the window” this year.

“I think seven-win teams without question will be admitted this year and there are two reasons for that,” he said. “One, the bracket has expanded. And the other is there’s an awful lot of parity in FCS football.”

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