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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 13 2012

Kolpack: Bison feel overconfidence didn't factor into loss

Fargo - There were two worlds on display at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome on Saturday afternoon. One involves the fans that come in droves to watch their team, North Dakota State.

Many already have tickets to the Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game in Frisco. Many have talked about an unbeaten season. Many figured Saturday’s game against Indiana State was just another victory waiting to happen.

The other world is the team itself.

After Indiana State’s 17-14 upset win before 18,164 fans, NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said the two worlds did not intermingle this week. He didn’t hear any of his players commenting on all of the superlatives, and deservedly so, being thrown their way for the last month.

Quarterback Brock Jensen, who had two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, said he personally did not get caught up in any overconfident temptations.

“I don’t think that had anything to do with the game,” Jensen said. “We have good character on this team. I don’t think it was a matter that we have to have a loss for a wake-up call. We just didn’t execute.”

There will be fans waking up this morning who will wonder if this team had an invulnerable feeling to it. The reality is just that: It was a reality check. Call it a bad day and move on to the next game.

Teams just don’t go through the FCS unbeaten. No. 2 Montana State also lost on Saturday. You’re not going to throw a nine-inning gem every time out on the mound.

“That on us, that’s on me,” Jensen said, “for throwing interceptions and not taking care of the football like we usually do. You rarely see a Bison offense turning the ball over three times a game and that’s the fact of the matter. Anytime you do that, that’s what’s going to happen.”

The Bison lost because Indiana State was the more opportunistic team. What a great story of a head coach, Trent Miles, who took over a program in 2008 that was so bad you wondered why the school didn’t drop football.

Asked if this was the biggest win in school history, Miles downplayed it.

“Was it the biggest win? I can’t say that,” he said.

I will. It has to be the biggest win in school history. Miles played for an ISU team in the early 1980s that beat the University of Louisville, but the Bison win had impact because it was a defending champion with a No. 1 ranking.

At least it deserved a call from Larry Bird, who Miles has known for practically his entire life.

“We’re in contact,” Miles said.

Meanwhile, the Bison will go back to practice next week, and Bohl said the coaching staff will be paying attention to correcting the mistakes like offsides and other penalties that happened in crucial times.

“I need to look at myself in the mirror, how much attention to detail did that show in practice,” Bohl said. “There were some penalties in key times that were critical.”

It used to be Indiana State that made those penalties, and more. I felt sorry for the Sycamores in their first trip to the dome in 2008 when they looked like a high school team.

They played defense like a playoff team on Saturday. They ended 10 straight Bison wins and curtailed to a degree some Texas-sized optimism on behalf of the fan base.

“Extremely frustrating, we know we can play better,” said Bison linebacker Grant Olson. “We’re all going to have to take looks at ourselves and see if we prepared as hard for this game as we did Youngstown and UNI. I don’t know, I guess it could possibly give us chance to refocus and get hungry again. It gives us a lot of things to improve on so that will be the key this next week. We have to come out and practice better.”

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