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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 20 2013

SDSU takes on reeling Cornhuskers

FARGO – Before the border battle with North Dakota State, South Dakota State is heading the other way to play another border state. Like the Dakota Marker game with the Bison, this one has some drama of its own.

Nebraska has become a soap opera since last Saturday in the wake of a 41-21 home loss to UCLA. Head coach Bo Pelini is embroiled in a controversy regarding negative comments he made toward Cornhuskers fans two years ago, a recording that surfaced after a home loss to UCLA.

“We need to focus on our game and not all the press and controversy down there,” said SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier. “It’s bigger than life down there and you get caught up in that. What’s going on down there, lost to UCLA at home, is potentially good for us in terms of pressure and distraction. But we can’t get caught up in that.

“We need to take care of our business.”

As late as Tuesday, Pelini said he was under the assumption he was going to coach against the Jackrabbits, although he told the Lincoln Journal-Star newspaper he had no assurances from the Nebraska athletic director or chancellor. He issued a statement of apology on Monday.

NDSU travels to Brookings (S.D.) next weekend for the conference opener for both teams.

A year later, the setting was bigger for Nielson

A year ago, Bob Nielson was coaching in stadiums in Minot, N.D., Crookston, Minn., and Marshall, Minn. Last Saturday, he entered the big time when his Western Illinois Leathernecks played the University of Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium.

He admitted to admiring the crowd and energy the first time he walked onto the field. Certainly, it was different from his days coaching Minnesota-Duluth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

“But once the game got going, it was coaching football,” Nielson said. “You don’t look at all the surroundings because you’re locked in on what’s going on around you. The biggest difference and the players handled it well was the noise issue.”

The Leathernecks hung tough with the Gophers until a second-half rally beat them 29-12.

Standout RB Bell returns for Sycamores

Indiana State will regain the services of standout running back Shakir Bell, who missed the last two weeks after injuring his shoulder in the season opener at Indiana.

“I feel amazing,” Bell said in a Missouri Valley interview. “I could have gone last week.

Bell said the new offensive system under first-year head coach Mike Sanford is stressing more diversity than in past years when Bell was the primary threat.

“We’re just spreading the love a little more,” he said. “This season, we have a lot more to show.”

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