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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 03 2013

Kolpack: Get ready for 'Fire and Ice: Part 2'

Fargo - The combined records of Delaware State, Missouri State, Illinois State and South Dakota are currently 4-13. They are four of the five Division I FCS home opponents for North Dakota State.

It’s a good thing buying a 2013 ticket for a Bison football game is more about the atmosphere and the hip place to be than actually sizing up the opponents. That’s not to mean the Missouri Valley Football Conference games will be cakewalks, but certainly NDSU will most likely be decisive favorites at this rate.

That brings us to Saturday.

It’s No. 1 NDSU vs. No. 4 Northern Iowa, although the Panthers in this voter’s eyes are the second-best team in FCS. They have a better FBS win than No. 2 Towson State (UNI defeated Iowa State and Towson beat Connecticut) and easily have more quality victories than No. 3 Sam Houston State.

The last time Northern Iowa came to Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome in 2011 was a matchup of No. 2 vs. No. 3. This is better than that.

In fact, this may be the best matchup the dome has ever seen. This is “Fire and Ice: The Next Generation.”

That’s a reference to the 1996 documentary of the Bison-Sioux football series, where NDSU head coach Rocky Hager was personified as “fire” and UND head coach Roger Thomas was classified as “ice.” Fifteen years later, in this sequel of clashing personalities, NDSU’s Craig Bohl is the ice and UNI’s Mark Farley is the fire.

Those who know Panthers football will tell you Farley coaches like he used to play: all-out. That’s not to say Bohl doesn’t have his moments of the ice quickly melting. Like Thomas back in the day, there is intensity within the locker room.

If you have time, by the way, go on to YouTube and search the Bison-Sioux football game for that clip. Then think about ESPN’s “College GameDay” two weeks ago, and that will give you supreme visual evidence of how far the NDSU program has come.

The Bison have never been better. They’re coming off two straight FCS titles, a win at Kansas State, the national “GameDay” infomercial and a defense that shut down the FCS’s leading rusher last week to virtually nothing.

After a down year, the Panthers appear to be the Panthers again. Running back David Johnson accounted for 240 yards of total offense by himself in the win at Iowa State, which came in front of a Cyclones school-record tying crowd of 58,600.

Even the NDSU president got into the act this week when Dean Bresciani, playing off the poor weather forecast, put on his Facebook page: “Storms moving in for Saturday’s game...serious thunder predicted.”

Good one Dean.

And he’s right: Everything is in place for a football war worthy of “Fire and Ice: The Next Generation.”

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