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Published September 24 2011

Bison fans turn Minnesota State Fairgrounds into sea of green and yellow

MINNEAPOLIS – In the hours before the Bison take on the Gophers, North Dakota State University fans and fanatics turned the Minnesota State Fair-grounds – their home base here – into a green-and-yellow tent city.

Thousands of Bison faithful turned out in hopes of catching a reprise of the team’s 2007 upset of Minnesota, bringing with them all the familiar comforts of a home Fargodome tailgate: the flags, the grills, the beer, and the confidence that they’d come away with a win.

“Bison by six,” predicted Craig Roth, a 30-year season-ticket holder who came down from Fargo with his wife and a group of friends. He was here for the last win, and looking forward to the chance for a repeat performance in NDSU’s first trip to TCF Bank Stadium.

For Paula and Bill Gimmestad, this Bison-Gophers clash will take on a very different tenor than the last round. Back then, they were rooting for the Gophers – they’re Minnesota season-ticket holders. Now, their son Tyler is an NDSU offensive lineman, swaying their allegiances.

“This week’s dragged on forever,” Bill said. “We couldn’t wait until Satur-day.”

In spite of their reversal of allegiances, the Gimmestads harbor no mixed emotions on tonight’s game. “We want the Bison to do well,” he said.

For Mike Hanson of Fargo’s Hanson Brothers Construction, who came down with his company, there were no such rooting dilemmas. “It’s fun to come down here, see a bigger venue, and stick it to our neighbors a little bit,” he said.

About an hour after the tailgating lot opened, he was busy grilling ribs – and attracting new friends in the process.

“We started with 10 people, but I think we’re picking up more as the day goes on,” he said.