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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 07 2013

Missouri State is a consistently tough matchup for Bison

FARGO – North Dakota State and Missouri State started playing each other in 2008 when NDSU joined the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The programs have gone in virtually opposite directions in those five years.

NDSU, of course, has won back-to-back Division I FCS national titles. The Bison have reached the playoffs the last three years and have been the top-ranked FCS team all season. Their 14 straight wins is a league record.

The Bears, meanwhile, have had a difficult time winning more games than they lose. Their conference record in that span is a combined 16-24. Overall, there’s just been one winning season – a 6-5 mark in 2009.

Yet, you would never know the disparities in the two programs when they go head-to-head. NDSU leads the series 3-2, with only one of those wins by a comfortable margin.

“The next opponent has given us fits for the last several years,” said Bison head coach Craig Bohl. “Missouri State matches up well schematically with us. And we’re anticipating another competitive game this Saturday.”

The 1 p.m. kickoff at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome is NDSU’s homecoming game.

The Bison improved to 5-0, 2-0 in the Valley, with a come-from-behind 24-23 win over Northern Iowa on Saturday. It left a physical toll on both teams, although it appears NDSU will only be without backup offensive lineman Jack Plankers for the Missouri State game.

“After watching the game, it was a physical, violent football game with bodies flying around and a lot of guys limping around,” Bohl said.

Plankers suffered meniscus damage to his knee and Bohl said his status is doubtful for the Bears. Otherwise, the entire offensive line will be back. Center Josh Colville missed the UNI game with concussion symptoms and guard Tyler Gimmestad didn’t start because of a knee strain.

“We’ll know more as the week goes along,” Bohl said.

NDSU’s veteran players know enough of Missouri State, Bohl said, to not let its 1-5 overall record precipitate taking it lightly. NDSU presumably needed a win in 2010 on the last game of the year to make the FCS playoffs.

The Bears won 3-0.

The Bison struggled last year in a 21-17 victory. The series is tied 1-1 in Fargo with MSU taking a 21-17 win in 2009.

“Our guys have a really acute memory,” Bohl said. “This has been a dogfight for us and I anticipate that again this year.”

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia