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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 02 2013

Bison football preparing for playoff game with Paladins

FARGO – The North Dakota State football coaches took a poll of sorts last week on their best guess to which NDSU’s opponent on Saturday would be: Furman University (S.C.) or South Carolina State.

The result was unanimous with Furman. The coaches were right.

“They’re a program that has a long storied history and a great track record,” said Bison head coach Craig Bohl.

NDSU will host the Paladins Saturday afternoon at 2:30 in the second round of the FCS playoffs. The Bison had a first round bye by virtue of their No. 1 overall seed.

Furman is no stranger to the postseason – it has 16 playoff appearances, which ranks it fifth all-time among FCS schools. It has a national title to its credit winning it in 1988.

The common question – who does Furman most look like in the Missouri Valley Football Conference – had no definitive answer in Bohl’s weekly Monday press conference.

“The baseline we do have is we’ve played two Southern Conference schools,” Bohl said. “I know they’ve beaten both of them so you have a very talented football team that we’re going to be playing.”

NDSU is 4-0 against Southern Conference teams with three of them against Georgia Southern and one against Wofford College (S.C.). The Paladins have faced only one Missouri Valley team, and that was back in 1989 when they beat Youngstown State.

Preparation this week for NDSU may have its share of challenges. The Northern Ag Expo is taking place in the Fargodome Monday through Wednesday, forcing the Bison outside on Monday and today.

NDSU will have to deal with a couple of snow systems, although Bohl didn’t appear to be in a weather-talking mood. A winter weather advisory was posted for Monday by the National Weather Service and a winter storm watch was posted for today.

“I know this, we have a big ballgame that we’re getting prepared for,” he said.

Practicing in poor conditions would be nothing new to NDSU in December. The Bison worked out in a blizzard prior to the 2010 playoff game at Montana State.

Bohl said cornerback Marcus Williams made progress with his twisted knee injury last week, and it appears the All-America cornerback will start on Saturday. Backup center Jesse Hinz is doubtful for the Furman game with a knee injury.

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia