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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 02 2012

Student demand peaks for Bison-Youngstown football game

FARGO – North Dakota State linebacker Grant Olson sensed the uneasiness in class Tuesday. And it had nothing to do with an instructor throwing a surprise quiz.

Students are allowed to claim their tickets for Saturday’s Youngstown State at NDSU football game beginning every Monday, and word started circulating that they were going fast this week. A computer glitch didn’t help the anxiety.

“I know everybody was freaking out in classes yesterday,” Olson said. “I don’t think anybody was paying attention to what the teacher had to say. But it’s a lot of fun. We appreciate everything they do.”

The freaking out got so extensive that by Tuesday afternoon, there was a waiting list of more than 1,900 students for the 4,000 allotted student seats at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. That may have set some sort of unofficial record. The list was between 200 and 400 for the first two home games this year, although homecoming games in general are annually a bigger student draw.

But not this big.

“Nearing 2,000 is as high as we’ve ever had,” said Justin Swanson, NDSU’s director of marketing and promotions. “It’s a hot item. Students and alumni are looking for tickets, and unfortunately a lot of people are going to have to watch it on TV.”

The game was sold out when single-game tickets went on sale Aug. 1. It’s possible some returned tickets could be made available at 8 a.m. Friday at the NDSU ticket office.

Hyping matters is the national ranking of both. NDSU is ranked first in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision coaches and media polls and Youngstown is No. 3.

“There’s that many on the list and it’s Tuesday, that’s pretty cool to see something like that,” said defensive end Cole Jirik. “They’re excited for the big game just as much as we are right now. There’s definitely a buzz on campus.”

Also adding to the buzz: It’s NDSU’s first Missouri Valley Football Conference home game and the first where the Bison are not a big favorite to win. The dome’s capacity is 18,700, but standing-room tickets can push it to more than 19,000.

“I wish we had a bigger stadium to play in,” Olson said.

Tight end Garrett Bruhn has another idea that the local fire marshal may not want to hear: Just let every student in and let them stand.

“Bring them all in and let the dome rock on Saturday,” he said.

In case any of the students were thinking of scalping their tickets, that’s not possible under the new claim system. In fact, no actual student tickets are even dispersed; rather they claim their gate entry at the Fargodome door with their picture identification.

And when NDSU defeated perennial power Northern Iowa last week, NDSU student body president Luke Brodeur said that it just heightened the frenzy this week.

“UNI was a big test,” he said. “People were waiting to see that one and to see our chances this year. Now people are looking forward to another run. I think you’ll see a really energetic crowd on Saturday.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia