There was many a blog written by yours truly in the past calendar year extolling the virtues of NDSU playing 12 games in 2013 and I can say the decision NOT to play 12 was a smart one, the Bison hit the final 3 games of the regular season perhaps the most healthy team in the nation, Jeff hit the nail on the head, if Ryan Smith’s sprained ankle is the biggest concern, than this team is ready to go. I heard from several coaches on the Missouri Valley Conference call about how banged up our team is, and just trying to survive. Northern Iowa is a mash unit, David Johnson will not play vs Youngstown, while Sawyer Kollmorgen doesn’t look like he’ll go. Illinois State and NDSU are the only Valley teams playing 11 this year, so even if SIU or SDSU makes the playoffs, how long can they last?
Will Christian Dudzik and the 2014 Bison play 12 games next year? (Carrie Snyder- Forum File Photo)
Which makes what I’m about to write more confusing for Bison fans. NDSU SHOULD play 12 games next season. I’m not sure this is the first time we’ve seen the 2014 schedule, but it’s the first time we’ve blogged about it, so here it is, then my reasons for playing 12 to follow.
- August 30th - at Iowa State
- September 6th – vs. Montana
- September 13th – OPEN DATE
- September 20th – OPEN DATE
- September 27th – OPEN DATE
- October 4th – at Western Illinois
- October 11th – vs. Southern Illinois
- October 18th – vs. Indiana State
- October 25th – at South Dakota
- November 1st – vs. SDSU
- November 8th – at Northern Iowa
- November 15th – at Missouri State
- November 22nd – vs. Youngstown State
First off, NDSU has 10 games locked and loaded for next season, so regardless, one of those three open dates will leave, probably the September 20th game, take a week off after playing Iowa State and Montana. That gives NDSU 11 and probably six home games, exactly what the football higher-ups want. But consider having two bye weeks that close? September 13th – off, 20th – play, 27th – off again? Remember 2014 is a year when FCS schools are allowed to play 12 games, and next year’s Bison will be good, but will they be in the same spot as this year’s team? No. A possible 0-2 start? While not likely, never say never, and then you need wins from there. Who do you figure to be good in the Valley next year? Austin Sumner and Zach Zenner are seniors, so SDSU will be back. Sawyer Kollmorgen is just a junior and UNI always re-loads. Youngstown loses Kurt Hess, but the Penguins have a lot of talent, and USD has had a unexpected resurgence, there always seems to be a team that jumps out of the pack.
2014 seems to be the year that NDSU could say let’s play a 6th road game, with the guarantee of playing that team in Fargo maybe as early as ’15 (NDSU already plays at Montana that year) or 2016 (Iowa and Western Carolina are locked in for then.
As for the schedule as it stands; the end of the schedule is incredibly difficult, home for the Jacks, at the UNI-Dome, at Springfield (NDSU always struggles there) and then host Youngstown, that’s a tough gauntlet. Eagle-eye fans will see Western Illinois re-appear
on the Bison schedule, the Leathernecks have been off for the last two seasons, NDSU
goes back to Macomb in early October. NDSU also will play in Vermillion for the first time
since 2002, a four-overtime loss for NDSU (remember 2012 the Bison played USD in Sioux Falls)
It’s fun to speculate now, but NDSU needs one more game, and I would not be surprised at all if they go get another, the opportunity may be right to be play 12.