Bison get No. 1 overall seed in FCS playoffs
By Jeff Kolpack
Forum News Service
FARGO — For the eighth straight year, players from the North Dakota State football team will have the opportunity to go home for Thanksgiving. The caveat: Their season is not over.
The Bison were awarded the No. 1 overall seed on Sunday morning, Nov. 18, for the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs. They’ll play the winner of Montana State-Incarnate Word winner on Dec. 1 at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
The pairings were announced on ESPNU.
As the top seed, the Bison will be at home as long as they keep winning. The quarterfinals are scheduled for Dec. 7-8 weekend, the semifinals Dec. 14-15 and the title game is set at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 5.
NDSU clinched the No. 1 spot after defeating Southern Illinois 65-17 on Saturday afternoon. The Bison will take an 11-0 overall record into postseason, the second time they have done so in the Division I era. NDSU went undefeated in 2013.
Like most years, the Bison players and coaches didn’t make an extravaganza out of the selection show. Some were expected to gather at the football complex on Sunday morning, but for the most part it was a low-key event.
“We’ll pay attention to the selection show and see how everything turns out,” safety Robbie Grimsley said after the win over the Salukis.
Grimsley said he’s paid attention over the course of the season at the landscape of the FCS.
“I like to keep track of the scores week in and week out and see what happens,” he said. “I think it’s interesting to me to see how the other conferences turn out and the games. I kind of have an idea what it will be like, but we’ll see.”
The Bison seniors pointed to a year-long process in getting to this point. They said it started last January not long after the Bison returned from Frisco, where they won their sixth title in seven years.
“It’s something we’ve worked for a lot of years,” Grimsley said. “It takes time to perform how we perform year in and year out and I think that’s just a testament to our coaches, the players we have here, the strength coaches, the trainers – everyone. Everyone puts in work and it shows.”
NDSU was one of the few teams on Sunday that had little doubt where it was going to end up with the selections. South Dakota State, the Missouri Valley Football Conference runner-up, was also virtually guaranteed a first-round bye.
South Dakota State earned the No. 5 seed. The Jackrabbits are on NDSU’s side of the bracket.
“Its interesting thing how they do it, but I don’t care about the rankings and all that stuff,” said running back Bruce Anderson. “I just like to make sure what’s in front of us stays in front of us. We just take it week by week and day by day.”
There’s another bonus for the Bison getting a first-round bye: They’ve been playing for 10 straight weeks, including eight in a row in the physical Missouri Valley.
“We need it bad,” Anderson said. “A lot of guys are banged up and this will allow our bodies to get back to where we need them to be. It allows us to prepare mentally for it.”
The 10 in a row is the most consecutive games the Bison have played in senior quarterback Easton Stick’s five years at the school.
“I think mentally just as much physically,” Stick said of needing a break. “It will be nice to get away for one Saturday. We won’t completely shut it down but take a deep breath and get ready for the first one.”
Tickets for NDSU’s first-round game go on sale Sunday at 3 p.m. only on NDSU’s gobison.com website. Season ticket holders have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to reserve their seats. Any tickets not purchased by 5 p.m. Tuesday will go on sale Wednesday at 7 a.m.