Trailing 21-7 in the 3rd quarter, it appeared as if underdog NDSU would slide away from Kansas State (2012 Big 12 Champions), a loss the pundits predicted. However, by the end of the third quarter, NDSU drove hard for another touchdown and started the 4th quarter only four points down—21-17. Evidence of their strong running game is found in time of possession during the 3rd quarter: NDSU 9:43 and Kansas State 5:17.
Sports analysts and Kansas fans never imagined that with 28 seconds remaining in the 2013 kick-off game, NDSU would score a touchdown turning the score 24-21 in favor of the NDSU Bison. At that point, Fox Sports announcer Joey Harrington blurted, “You would never expect an FCS team to come into a defending Big 12 champion’s home stadium and do this at the end of the ball game.” The Bison used their formidable running game and kept the ball on the ground for over nine minutes during that last drive. Harrington continued with, “This is as well coached football team as I’ve seen in a long time. Especially considering who’s on the opposite sidelines in Bill Snyder.” Enhancing their underdog status, NDSU as part of the FCS, is allowed 22 fewer scholarship players than teams like Kansas State in the FBS. Astounded Fox announcer Craig Bolerjack commented that this would be, “The first season opening loss under Bill Snyder since 1981.”
NDSU’s Quarterback, Brock Jensen, walked away as the “Right Stuff Player of the Game,” having achieved a perfect 14/14 completions after throwing his only interception and finishing the game 21-30.
Two years ago I shook Coach Craig Bohl’s hand and talked to him about Coach Myron Miller and the Tustin Tiller ground game. It was evident that Coach Bohl and Coach Miller shared old-school philosophy as well as an appreciation for the power of the running game. My hope was that he’d recruit a few Tillers. Walking away from Coach Bohl that day in Fargo, North Dakota, I went from being a Bison fan by marriage to being a Bison fan by admiration. After watching their underdog victory last night, and the tears of pride for his players that sparkled in Coach Bohl’s eyes, I just hope that aspiring coaches want to continue the finesse of the exhausting ground game, to follow old-school philosophy, and to care about players as much as coaches like Bohl do.