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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 18 2012

NDSU gets No. 1 overall seed in FCS playoffs

FARGO - A rematch may not be far away. North Dakota State received the No. 1 seed and will receive a first-round bye in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

But it doesn’t appear to be an easy road. The Bison will take on the winner of South Dakota State and Eastern Illinois, which play Saturday in Brookings, S.D., where the Jackrabbits are expected to be favored. NDSU defeated SDSU 20-17 just two weeks ago at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.

The focus this week, however, is getting players healthy and rested, said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl.

“It’s a whole new season, wipe the slate clean and get yourself ready to play,” he said.

NDSU (10-1) is the defending tournament champion. Big Sky Conference co-champions Eastern Washington and Montana State got the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively. Old Dominion of the Colonial Athletic Conference got the No. 4 seed and Georgia Southern of the Southern Conference is seeded fifth.

“I really don’t think there was much debate on NDSU being the No. 1 seed,” said Charlie Cobb, athletic director at Appalachian State and the chair of the playoff selection committee, on the ESPNU selection show.

Cobb said there were nine teams under serious consideration for the last two spots, which he said went to SDSU and Stony Brook University (N.Y.). Stony Brook hosts Villanova for its first-round game. SDSU is hosting its game despite being a late selection choice, most likely, because it had a higher bid than Eastern Illinois.

The winner will play NDSU Dec. 1 at 3 p.m., which will be aired on ESPN3. ESPN has exclusive rights to televise the entire tournament. Tickets went on sale Sunday and are available on the NDSU ticket website. Walk-up requests begin at 8 a.m. this morning at the Bison Sports Arena ticket office. Season ticket holders have until Nov. 27 to purchase their same seats.

The Bison have a 6-1 record in the FCS playoffs, having reached the quarterfinals in 2010. Overall, NDSU is 40-14 in playoff competition with nine national titles counting its time in Division II.

“I think it’s a one-and-done mentality,” said Bison linebacker Grant Olson. “You have to show up every week and that means we have to prepare every single day.”

Bohl said it is possible the week off could help the return of starting tight end Garrett Bruhn, who has been out with a sprained ankle. He said wide receiver Andrew Okland, who was helped off the field in the 38-20 win over Illinois State on Saturday, could be a day-to-day proposition with a sprained ankle.

“We have guys who have been playing week to week battered up,” Bohl said. “We have a lot of guys who are playable but are not at 100 percent and it’s important for us to get them ready.”

That list includes Olson, offensive tackle Billy Turner, defensive end Kyle Emanuel, defensive tackle Brian Schaetz and running back John Crockett.

The Bison are coming off their second straight 10-1 regular season. Two years ago, they were the last team in the 20-team playoffs.

“We learned two years ago anybody can put together some wins and take over the tournament,” Lund said.

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia