When you win an FCS record 34 consecutive games, even a small hiccup can seem jarring.
When collecting its record-setting win last week, a 37-13 victory against Nicholls State, the North Dakota State University Bison (13-0) led only 14-13 in the third quarter.
“We started a little bit slower than what we’re used to,” NDSU head coach Matt Entz said on the weekly Bison Football Show. “We were just getting in our own way. We didn’t start fast like we thought we could have. We challenged them to kind of refocus themselves to go back out and get it going in the second half.”
The second half for the Bison, which has won seven of the last eight national titles, involved them outscoring Nicholls 23-3 for a 24-point win.
The Bison -- who host Illinois State this week in the FCS playoff quarterfinals -- have also won 26 consecutive home games in the FargoDome, which is known for its raucous environment.
“The way the crowd and everything is here, they’ve got a good thing going,” Nicholls head coach Tim Rebowe said in the postgame press conference.
Prairie State Pigskin takes a glance at North Dakota State on and off the football field:
Colors: Yellow and green
Location: Fargo, N.D.
Population of city: 124,844
Conference: Missouri Valley Football Conference
Record: 13-0 overall, 8-0 MVFC (champions)
Rankings: The Bison are No. 1 in the FCS Coaches Poll and No. 1 in the STATS Media Poll.
Fun facts: The annual Fargo Marathon draws 20,000 runners. …Baseball legend Roger Maris was raised in Fargo and graduated from Stanley High School. … NDSU head coach Matt Entz spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Northern Iowa and one at Western Illinois before joining the NDSU program in 2014. … The school made the move from NCAA Division II athletics to Division I in 2004. The Bison football program joined the MVFC in 2008. … In 1907, NDSU (then known as North Dakota Agricultural College) called off all sporting events against the University of North Dakota for three years because of “ill feelings.” … The NDSU football roster includes nine players from Illinois. … Fargo is the corporate headquarters for sporting goods chain Scheel's, which employs more than 6,000 people in the area. ... Since 2010, NDSU is 33-2 in FCS playoff games.
Head coach: Matt Entz
Stadium: FargoDome (seats 18,700 for football)
Names you should know on offense: Quarterback Trey Lance has been remarkable as a redshirt freshman, passing for 2,356 yards and 25 touchdowns with zero interceptions. A finalist for the Walter Payton Award, he also has rushed for 11 TDs and is the team’s second-leading rusher at 829 yards. … Lance is one of four NDSU players with at least 600 rushing yards. Senior Ty Brooks leads the team with 853 yards, while junior Adam Cofield (11 TDs) has 695 and freshman Kobe Johnson has racked up 602. … Seven players have at least 10 receptions this season for the Bison with sophomore wide receiver Phoenix Sproles leading the way with 31 catches for 524 yards. Sproles averages 16.9 yards per catch. … The offensive line has allowed 10 sacks in 13 games.
Names you should know on defense: Sophomore strong safety Michael Tutsie (five) and senior free safety James Hendricks (four) lead the team in interceptions for a defense that has grabbed 14 picks this season. … Senior defensive end Derrek Tuszka has racked up 16.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and six QB hurries. … Six players have at least 50 tackles on the defense, led by sophomore linebacker Jackson Hankey (91) and Tutsie (84). Junior linebacker Jabril Cox, despite missing time with an injury, has 70 stops. … Senior cornerback Marquise Bridges has a team-best 13 passes defended, while two others have nine.