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NDSU players, fans plan early arrival for FCS game

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FARGO, N.D. (AP)

North Dakota State football players and fans are planning pre-dawn, sub-zero wakeup calls in advance of their home playoff game against Coastal Carolina.

Kickoff for Saturday's Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal game is 11 a.m., in order to accommodate television coverage. But the tailgating lots outside the Fargodome will open at 5:30 a.m., and the pregame meal for players is scheduled for 7:15 a.m.

''Oh, that's early. I am going to be tired,'' Bison running back John Crockett said with a smile. ''Actually, we are looking forward to it. It's going to be fun.''

The players will follow the same pregame routine as they have for all home games this season, except this time they will be gathering for breakfast instead of brunch. The normal spaghetti, stir fry and sandwich bars will be replaced by scrambled eggs, pancakes, French toast, waffles and lean meat.

But no bacon, said Jim Kramer, the team's director of athletic performance.

''It doesn't digest very well,'' he said.

Kramer said he doesn't expect the sunrise start to be an issue. He schedules summer workouts for the players at 5:30 a.m.

However, he doesn't want players to go directly from their beds to the breakfast table. He's asking them to move around first in order to work up an appetite for the morning meal.

''Your typical college student, I might worry about them,'' Kramer said. ''But your college student-athlete, that's not going to be a factor. This crew is not unaccustomed to getting up early at all.''

Kramer also will have fuel for the players at intermission.

''People have asked me if we use some fancy, big-name supplement to give the players an extra edge at halftime,'' Kramer said. ''We give them Rice Krispy bars and bananas. That's what we've always used. It's been pretty successful.''

This is NDSU's earliest kickoff since an 11 a.m. contest at Minnesota in 2007. The Bison won that game 27-21.

''It's going to be different for us,'' Bison wide receiver Zach Vraa said. ''We're student-athletes, we get up for class early. So it shouldn't be too bad.''

Pat Simmers, executive director of Team Makers, the school's booster group, said he expects thousands of fans to turn out for tailgating even with an early start and temperatures expected to be around zero. He said ''there will be people there'' at 5:30 a.m.

''We're going to have heaters and food and hot and cold beverages in the tents. It's going to be more than comfortable in the Bison corral,'' Simmers said. ''I continue to believe that our people our nuts, but they enjoy it. I've been a lot of places and their passion is phenomenal.''

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