North Dakota State: Get to know SIU's 2nd-round playoff opponent

North Dakota State’s raucous FargoDome makes life difficult for many football opponents. (Photo by

Following its 22-10 win over South Dakota this past weekend, Southern Illinois earned a second-round date with No. 2 overall seed North Dakota State.

According to, NDSU played in Division II from 1922-2003 before jumping to the Division I-FCS level in 2004. NDSU qualified for its first FCS playoffs appearance in 2010, falling in the quarterfinals, before starting its run of five straight national titles from 2011-15.

No FCS program has claimed more national championships than North Dakota State football, winner of eight of nine titles from 2011-19. The Bison started their extraordinary run with a five-peat from 2011-15 and ended their decade of dominance with three more from 2017-19.

Get to know North Dakota State University and its football program:

Founded:  1890

Enrollment:  12,461

Nickname:  Bison (for more about that read on)

Colors: yellow & green

Location:  Fargo, N.D. (948 miles from Carbondale; 643 miles from Chicago, according to Google maps)

Population of city:  124,662

Conference:  Missouri Valley

Record:  10-1 overall, 7-1 in conference

Ranking: No. 3 in the final regular season STATS Perform FCS poll

Head coach:  Matt Entz (33-4 record)

Key players:  QB Cam Miller, QB Quincy Patterson, RB TaMerik Williams, RB Kobe Johnson, RB Jalen Bussey, WR/KR Christian Watson, OL Cody Mauch, OL Cordell Volson, K Jake Reinholz, DE Brayden Thomas, LB Jackson Hankey, S Michael Tutsie, LB Jasir Cox

Stadium:  FargoDome (synthetic turf)

Fun facts: According to, North Dakota State University’s athletic teams have progressed from the “Farmers” in the 1890’s to the “Aggies” in the early 1900’s to the “Bison,” NDSU’s current athletic symbol. In 1919, head football coach Stan Borleske developed it because he and members of the football team didn’t like being known as “Aggies.” Borleske wanted a strong and fierce mascot. The “Bison” was a logical choice. The great animals once roamed the North Dakota prairie in vast numbers, and over the years Bison athletic teams added an additional name, the “Thundering Herd.”

According to, “NDSU’s sports teams have been known as the Bison since 1922, and the beloved mascot fittingly honors the massive, powerful animal that once dominated the Northern Plains. We proudly pronounce the word with a “Z.” However, nearly everyone else says it with an “S” sound.” 

Land of Lincoln links: The Bison have nine players from Illinois on their roster, including tight end Josh Babicz (Barrington), quarterback Quincy Patterson (Chicago), CB Destin Talbert (Hinsdale South), linebacker/special teams member Luke Weerts (Batavia) and long snapper Mike Florentine (Lincoln-Way East).

Though he is being redshirted, freshman defensive back Dalton Tieman is from downstate Rochester High School, the same school that SIU QB Nic Baker and WRs Avante & D’Ante’ Cox played for prep coach Derek Leonard.

NDSU head coach Matt Entz served as the co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Western Illinois in 2013.

Current NFL players: Billy Turner, Green Bay; Carson Wentz, Indianapolis; Joe Haeg, Pittsburgh; Chris Board, Baltimore; Easton Stick, Los Angeles Chargers; Ben Ellefson, Minnesota; Trey Lance, San Francisco; Dillon Radunz, Tennessee; Jabril Cox, Dallas; Derrek Tuszka, Pittsburgh

Best NFL player:  QB Carson Wentz (2016-present)

Notable non-football alumni: Humayun Ahmed, Bangladeshi writer and filmmaker; Bob Backlund, former WWF champion wrestler; Doug Burgum, governor of North Dakota; Alf Clausen, composer for “The Simpsons” as well as other television programs and motion pictures; Audra Mari, Miss World America 2016; Amy Olson, professional golfer; Cara Mund, Miss America 2018; Charles F. Wald, former Deputy Commander of United States European Command

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