Bison plan to put championship season behind them
It wasn’t that long ago, North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl
says, that Bison football fans were complaining to athletic
director Gene Taylor about spectators standing up during games and
blocking their view.
No longer is the atmosphere inside the Fargodome like a dog
Fresh off their first Division I football championship, the
Bison have sold out every home game for the first time in school
history. They open the season Saturday against visiting Robert
Morris, after a brief ceremony planned to commemorate the
Championship Subdivision title.
”It’s going to be really loud. The dome is going to be
rocking,” NDSU quarterback Brock Jensen said.
Bohl, now in his 10th year, guided the team through a transition
from NCAA Division II to a national title in their fourth year of
eligibility. He has a 75-31 record, including 16-8 against
nationally ranked FCS teams and 5-3 against Bowl Subdivision
The most surprising number for Bohl, perhaps, is 18,700. That’s
roughly the number of tickets sold for six regular-season home
games, culminating on Nov. 10 against rival South Dakota State.
”Did I think we would sell out every game? No, that’s unheard
of,” Bohl said. ”It’s where we strive for. But now all of a
sudden you get here and it’s, wow, we’re really here.”
The Bison return six starters on offense, seven on defense and
their game-breaking kick returner. The only unproven positions are
offensive line, with two new starters, and special teams, with a
new kicker and punter.
Jensen, the junior quarterback, has started 19 straight games
and 22 overall. He led the Bison all the way last year despite a
nagging case of turf toe. He’s healthy this year.
”I’m one year older. I’m one year wiser,” Jensen said. ”I
feel good and I can’t wait to go to battle with the guys.”
The Bison have won 11 straight season openers.
Robert Morris and NDSU last played in the opening round of the
2010 playoffs. It was a tight game until the Bison scored 23 points
in the last 9 minutes to win 43-17.
”We’re expecting a really spirited, close ballgame,” Bohl
Bison players say they may take a minute during the banner
raising ceremony to reflect on last season, but then it’s back to
”I know the fans will be really excited, but we’re just ready
to play football again,” linebacker Grant Olson said.
”I can see talking about it at our 10-year reunion, but as far
as last year goes … put it in the past,” tight end Garrett Bruhn