The Bison of North Dakota State can now be counted-on to produce FCS victories over FBS teams on demand. The victim this time was Iowa.
Just call them “Old Reliable.” Such is the domination that it includes the ranks of the FCS, where North Dakota State is five-time defending national champion, and the FBS, as well. The Bison have won against six FBS opponents in a row since 2010. Those six have included five Power Five members with the most recent being the Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big Ten. The Bison of the Missouri Valley are in the rarefied air of Dynastyland. Saturday’s last second field goal against the Hawkeyes gave them a 23-21 victory over the 11th ranked team in the nation. And, of course, it was in Iowa City.
Have you ever set foot in Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium? If so, you know this is a sacrificial snake pit, designed to be a place where visiting football teams go to die. Coming into Kinnick from ground level, your gaze drops to the field, way down in a hole below, surrounded on all sides by massive grandstands which are right on top of the field. At least, that’s what it feels like. For opposing teams, looking up at all that surrounds them, it must feel like the Roman Colosseum, the original intimidating stadium. Kinnick is a tough place to play for anyone, making NDSU’s win all the more impressive.
You wonder when these FBS teams may begin to rethink the scheduling of the Bison. The general notion of these games is that they are to be a pay for play (What? Aghast!) game for the FCS team and an automatic win for the FBS team. While the former is true, the latter has proven to be a dicey proposition for many FBS teams against the top-quality FCS teams. That dicey proposition has turned outright deadly for those FBS teams scheduling North Dakota State. It’s not like the Bison are sneaking up on anyone, either. Yet, those FBS schools keep rolling snake-eyes against the Bison. Since 2010, North Dakota State has won at five Power Five outfits: Kansas, Iowa State, and Kansas State of the Big 12, and Minnesota, and now, Iowa, of the Big Ten.
And, this is no fluke. There has been domination at times. For example, in the Kansas State game in 2013, the Bison needed a long, final possession, drive to win the game as the clock wound down. There was no question as to who dominated the trenches as the Bison just simply rammed the ball down Kansas State’s throat. They could not and would not be stopped. It was an old school, three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust, power football, thing of beauty and you could see it coming all the way from the Fargodome. (Unfortunately, there was no time to go on to Kansas City to clean things up even further. Hanzee Dent!)
Here is a little flight of FCS victories over FBS fantasy. These above Power Five games have all been regional tilts, so maybe FBS teams could look at their scheduling of the Bison as a top-notch intersectional match-up of regional interest. Heck, maybe the Power Five scheduling watchdogs could start treating it like the scheduling of Notre Dame and BYU, considering it of Power Five quality. That’s going too far, isn’t it? Well, considering the track record, it is arguably not. And how big would a College Football National Playoff have to get for the Bison to get an at-large bid? With a 16-team field there would be room for the FCS National Champion, the champions of all Group of Five leagues and, just so no one feels too left out, ten places left for the Power Five champions and their at large teams. Would that satisfy (the greed of) everyone? A playoff that big would have to go well into January and even February, so there would be time for an FCS team to win the FCS playoff and have that winner as at least a 16th seed in the College Football Playoff. That would be pushing a potential 20 games for the FCS team, but that’s what happens when you are a play-in team. Just dreaming a little playoff dream/nightmare, theorizing, all fantasy, no feasibility, and reality aside. That’s what happens when you spend too much time standing, sitting, and staring at scenes of carnage at the bottom of a snake pit. Help me, one of those vipers got me in the common sense!
It’s just that NDSU has become a real thorn in the sides of FCS and FBS foes alike, including the Power Five. But, give all due credit to the Bison. Above all else, it is a real tribute to playing as a team, coaching, under-the-radar recruiting, and diehard fans.
Nah, forget about that foregoing fantasy. How ’bout this? Why not just schedule the North Dakota State problem away, FBS boys? The yellow and green would look mighty fine in Bryant-Denny Stadium. That game might be worth a million dollars, or more, to the Bison. What about it? Put it at the first game of the year, maybe even the Kickoff Classic, and instead of those SEC games against FCS teams in the second to the last game of the regular season. North Dakota State at Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, or against the Crimson Tide in that little place down in Texas. National TV. The logo itself would say it all: a buffalo and an elephant butting heads. Now that’s the stuff of Roman legend. Or is that Carthaginian legend? Hannibal Barca driving war elephants over the Italian Alps. In the Po Valley below, the Roman Legion astride buffalo. What? That didn’t happen? Well, it could have happened on Twitter. Trending since 218 BC, “Kardashians win Second Punic War!” (Insert fist bump emoji here and RT!) And something more could happen, too. A review of North Dakota State’s future schedules shows open dates galore with no FBS teams scheduled until a trip to Oregon in 2020 and a trip to Colorado in 2024. Put an end to this Bison domination nonsense, once and for all, for the love of all that is the FBS. Just don’t roll snake-eyes. Or do. That would be one Nick Saban press conference that might out-sell the game itself. I’m going to call Jerry, right now. This demands a sense of urgency. Pick-up, Jerry, I know you’re there.