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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 30 2010

Out in the elements: Bison prepare for playoff game at Montana State

The forecast for Saturday afternoon in Bozeman, Mont., calls for temperatures in the lows 30s under partly cloudy skies. That will seem like Spring Break compared to the conditions North Dakota State will practice in this week.

When most teams come to the Fargodome for a football game, they prepare for the noise factor. This time, the Bison will try to acclimate themselves to the winter weather factor of the Rocky Mountains.

They won’t have to try too hard for the Division I Football Championship Subdivision second round game at Montana State. It was cold, snowy and blustery Monday night for the first practice of the week, which was held at the team’s new Sprinturf surface at old Dacotah Field.

“If we’re going to play in the north Atlantic, we’re going to train in the north Atlantic,” said Bison head coach Craig Bohl.

An agriculture show has the Fargodome tied up until Wednesday. Even so, NDSU probably would have practiced outside anyway.

“If we’re going to play in it, we need to get used to it and acclimatized to it,” Bohl said.

“It’s probably not a big deal to the linemen but for the skill players, anybody who handles the football, getting used to the elements is important. We haven’t practiced in snow a whole lot, though.”

Asked if the weather will hamper his team’s preparation efforts, Bohl joked he was more concerned about the team’s equipment manager, who is from south Florida.

“We’ve got to get it done,” he said.

The Bison began practice Monday with something different from the two previous weeks: a sure-fire starting quarterback.

Bohl said freshman Brock Jensen, who played the whole game in Saturday’s 43-17 first round win over Robert Morris University (Pa.), will start against the Bobcats.

Jensen, and backup Jose Mohler, both suffered shoulder sprains in the last regular season game at Missouri State. Both, with a lot of treatment during the week, were ready for Robert Morris.

NDSU also got some good news at another injured position: linebacker.

Senior Matt Anderson, who missed the Robert Morris game with nerve issues around the neck, will start against Montana State. Also, top backup Chad Willson, out the last two weeks after an emergency appendectomy, is back this week. The Bison suffered no new injuries in the RMU game.

Practicing into December, however, is new to the players. Then again, most played high school football in cold climates.

“We can’t control the weather,” Bohl 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