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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 05 2012

Bison can clinch share of MVFC title with win over SDSU

FARGO – The annual Senior Day ritual for the North Dakota State football team is for each player to be announced individually. Then they run through the inflatable helmet and shake head coach Craig Bohl’s hand.

That won’t take long this year; there are only seven seniors on the roster.

“A couple of handshakes and we’ll be playing football,” Bohl said.

The football is about as good of a matchup as it gets in Division I Football Championship Subdivision. Both NDSU and South Dakota State have a lot on the line, most notably the winner clinching a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference title.

“It’s great to see these two teams in November with so much riding on the game,” Bohl said.

NDSU retained its top ranking in The Sports Network FCS top 25 media poll and returned to the No. 1 spot in the FCS coaches’ poll, by virtue of former No. 1 Georgia Southern losing to Appalachian State.

It’s the 13th time the Bison have been ranked No. 1 since moving to Division I and it moved them past Northern Iowa and into second place all-time in the Missouri Valley. Southern Illinois holds the record being ranked No. 1 for 16 weeks.

Bohl said there are no players who played in the 21-17 win at Missouri State who won’t be available for the Jackrabbits. And he said two backup defensive linemen – end Ricky Hagen and tackle Brian Schaetz – will probably return this week.

It’s uncertain if tight end Garrett Bruhn will return from a knee injury. He was expected to get a further look Monday night.

“He’s getting closer,” Bohl said.

If Bruhn doesn’t go, that leaves center Joe Lund and safety Bobby Ollman as the lone two senior starters. Still, the bulk of the team has played in the last two meetings for the Dakota Marker, which is in its ninth year with each team winning four games.

The Bison have won the last two, including a 38-14 victory in Brookings last season.

SDSU moved up to No. 16 from No. 21 in the FCS coaches’ poll. The Jacks were No. 11 last week in the Gridiron Power Index power poll.

“These are two top schools in the conference that are playing well right now,” Bohl said. “You can take the records and rankings and throw them out the window. This is a rivalry game. This is what makes college football special. (SDSU) is playing at a high level right now.”

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia