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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 08 2012

Bison garner lofty football ranking

FARGO – North Dakota State’s football team moved up to No. 37 in the USA Today Sagarin power ratings this week. The rankings, by the way, are for every college football team in the country.

That means North Dakota State is rated ahead of half of the Big Ten Conference in a system that is considered a predictor of matchups. They are ahead of every team in Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, Sun Belt Conference, Western Athletic Conference and with the exception of Boise State, every Mountain West team.

Those are all Division I Football Bowl Subdivision leagues.

“It’s pretty doggone high,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. “There are names behind us that are good football schools, I know that.”

The 5-0 Bison remained No. 1 in The Sports Network and Football Championship Subdivision coaches polls after a 48-7 win over No. 3 Youngstown State on Saturday. Another highly regarded team comes to Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome on Saturday in Indiana State, which was as high as No. 22 in the media poll.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference doesn’t keep tabs on Sagarin rankings, but NDSU’s No. 37 nod is up there as one of the higher rankings since the league started in the early 1980s. The Sagarin ratings have been around since 1985.

“There’s merit to it,” Bohl said. “I do look at that. It’s something I’ve looked at for a long time. I’m not saying it’s always a predictor, and I don’t know how it all goes in there.”

How an FCS team can be rated higher than a large chunk of FBS teams is a product of the sport, Bohl said. There’s more development of players that comes into play than most other sports.

“You can recruit all the five star-whatever guys,” Bohl said, before quoting former Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler. “He said if half of them play, you’ve done well.”

Bohl relayed the story of when he was an assistant at the University of Nebraska “and we had arguably the second best team in college football history.”

The main two recruiting classes for that team, Bohl said, were ranked 39th and 40th in the country by a recruiting service. NDSU, meanwhile, rarely beats an FBS school to a recruit.

“So I think there’s been a lot of development with those guys and this team has been an enjoyable team to work with,” he said. “They’re very skilled but they also go about their business.

“There’s not a high maintenance guy on the field. They do what they’re supposed to do and they play as a team. They all have their roles and they practice really hard.”

The No. 1 ranking this week is the 11th in school history, tying Northern Iowa for second place on the Missouri Valley chart for most times at the top spot. Southern Illinois holds the record, spending 16 weeks at the top in 2004, 2005 and 2009.

Bohl said kicker Adam Keller has a hamstring injury and his status for Saturday is uncertain. Quarterback Brock Jensen, Bohl said, has a similar injury but it appears it won’t affect his playing status.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia