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North Dakota State Bison football

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First season  1894
Seating capacity  19,000
NCAA division  Division I FCS
Division  Division I (NCAA)
Mascot  Thundar
Year built  1992
Location  Fargo, North Dakota
Arena/Stadium  Fargodome
Head coach  Chris Klieman
Marching band  Gold Star Marching Band
North Dakota State Bison football httpsimgclipartfestcom5da60268d537fa41403aa5
Field surface  AstroTurf Magic Carpet II (2012)
Conference  NCAA Missouri Valley Conference Football
Rivals  South Dakota State Jackrabbits football

The North Dakota State Bison football program represents North Dakota State University in college football at the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision level and competes in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Bison play in the 19,000 seat Fargodome located in Fargo, ND. The Bison have won 13 National Championships and 33 Conference Championships and won five-consecutive NCAA Division I-FCS National Championships between 2011 and 2015. NDSU is the only college football program to ever win five consecutive NCAA national championships. In regards to overall record, post-season play, and titles won over the past 5 years; the NDSU Bison Football program is known as one of the greatest dynasties in college football history.


Since 2011, the North Dakota State Bison have a record of 83–7 (.922) including a record 22 game playoff win streak, making them the most successful college football football program in Division I this decade. The Bison are 137–34 (.801) since moving to Division I in 2004. Since 1964, the Bison have had only 3 losing seasons and an overall record of 485–136–4 (.779) through that 52-year span, one of the best in all of college football. North Dakota State currently has more all-time wins than any non-Ivy League FCS Program at nearly 700 all-time wins. Of all teams established after 1894, only Oklahoma has won a higher percentage of their games than NDSU. The team also has the record for the longest winning streak in Division I-FCS which stands at 33 consecutive games spanning from 2012 to 2014. It is also tied for the 3rd longest streak in NCAA football during the past 50 years.

In the final AP Football Poll of the 2013–14 season; after their third consecutive National Championship, North Dakota State finished with 17 votes which ranked them at #29 in all of D1 football, the highest end of season ranking of any team in the history of FCS football. After defeating 13th-ranked (FBS) Iowa in 2016, the Bison earned 74 votes and a #27 ranking in the entire D1 field, overtaking their previous record to become the highest-ranked FCS team of all time.

1894–1921: Beginnings

The Bison fielded their first team in 1894 and were originally known as the NDAC Farmers. From the early 1900s to 1921, the nickname of the school then known as North Dakota Agricultural College was the Aggies. The first coach for the new NDAC football team was Henry Bolley, who also fielded the first football program at Purdue University in 1887 and was their first Quarterback. He challenged the University of North Dakota to a football match in 1890, but did not have enough players until 1894, the first official year of football at NDSU. In 1902, Eddie Cochems, known as the father of the forward pass was hired as head coach of the Bison where he experimented building an offense around his new technique; which subsequently became legal in the 1906 college football season; Cochems went 9–1 in his 2-year stint as head coach. The college hired famed Michigan Halfback Paul Magoffin, the first player to ever catch a forward pass in 1907, as head coach, but he left for the head coaching position offered to him by George Washington University a year later. The 1918 season was cancelled due to the outbreak of the Spanish Flu in conjunction with the first World War. The 1943 and 1944 seasons were also cancelled due to World War II and the shortage of eligible players. Keeping with their Michigan favoritism, the NDAC hired Stanley Borleske in 1919 to coach the football, basketball, and baseball teams. After six years of coaching and a 36–36–7 record, Borleske left for Fresno State but is largely credited with developing the Bison mascot. It was well known he was not a fan of the "Aggies" mascot, wanting something 'strong and fierce' he came up with the 'Bison' which remains the mascot today. He also coined the term "Thundering Herd" which is still a common reference to the NDSU Bison Football fanbase.

1922–2003: Division II

In 1921, NDSU became a charter member of the now-defunct North Central Conference, which they remained affiliated with for 82 years until 2003. Their primary rival during this time were the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux (now the Fighting Hawks) whom they competed with to win the Nickel Trophy. As members of Division II, they won 8 national championships with an overall record of 347–94–4 having only 2 losing seasons from 1964–2003.

2004–present: Division I (FCS)

In 2004, all North Dakota State athletic teams moved to Division I. From 2004 to 2007, the Bison were members of the Great West Football Conference. Since 2008 they have been affiliated with the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Since moving to Division I, their primary rival are the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits whom they compete with each year for the Dakota Marker. The team's former head coach was Craig Bohl, who led the Bison from 2003 to 2014, holds the school record for most wins by a head coach. At the beginning of the 2015 football season the Bison had a Division I record of 117–30 and has been coached by Chris Klieman since 2014.

The NDSU Bison are the only FCS program to ever be ranked higher #34 in the AP National Football Poll. After the 2011 Championship Game, the Bison became only the third team in FCS history to receive votes in the final AP Top 25 with 2, putting them at #32 overall (FCS Record); the others being Appalachian State who receive 5 votes after their third consecutive FCS Championship in 2007 and ended at #34 and James Madison University after their 2010 upset of then #13 Virginia Tech. After the 2012 season, the Bison again broke the barrier and became the first ever FCS team to breach the poll twice by receiving 1 vote and ending at #36 in the nation. Due to the overwhelming support and attention NDSU got during this run, ESPN announced that it would host its ESPN College GameDay program in downtown Fargo on September 21, 2013. The Bison ended up beating Delaware State 51–0 later that day. The Bison finished the 2013 regular season with an undefeated 11–0 record, their first perfect season since 1990. The Bison became the first FCS team to ever finish the regular season ranked on the AP Poll at #34 with 1 vote. After a perfect season (15–0) and winning their third consecutive championship game. After the 2013 season, the Bison were ranked #29 in the National Division I AP Poll, tallying a massive 17 votes, far beyond what any other FCS team had ever received. After defeating Iowa in 2016 the bison were ranked 27th in the AP Poll with 74 votes, the highest ranking of any team in FCS history.

In 2014, after beating their 5th consecutive FBS team, Iowa State, and their subsequent game against Weber State; which was their 26th straight victory, ESPN again announced they would bring their College Gameday program back to downtown Fargo on September 13, 2014 to cover the Bison's amazing run for the second straight year. The visit marked first time the show has ever visited the same FCS school twice and only the 6th time they have visited a non-FBS school since 1993.The Bison won an FCS record 33 straight games from 2012 to 2014, which is also the 3rd longest in the history of Division 1 NCAA football. From 2010 to 2014, the Bison did not lose a single road game, a span of 22 games. They also had a winning streak of 26 home games (2012-2015) and have won 20 Consecutive Playoff Wins (FCS Record). The Bison have won 16 straight home openers since their 1999 loss to Ferris State and are 21–1 in home openers since the Fargodome opened in 1992.

Collectively, the Bison have won 31 conference championships, and 13 national championships. They were selected as NCAA College Division II champions by polling three times (1965, 1968, 1969), won the NCAA Division II National Football Championship five times (1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990), and have won the NCAA Division I Football Championship five times in consecutive seasons (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). From 2012 to 2014, the Bison had an FCS record of 33 straight wins, which is tied for the third longest in modern NCAA history. The Bison football program has had only 3 losing seasons since 1964.

Historically, only 5 teams established after 1893; Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Florida, and Clemson have won more total games than NDSU's 693.

The 2013 Bison

The 2013 team had a perfect 15–0 season, becoming the first program to do that since Marshall in 1996. They won their third consecutive national championship, tying an FCS record. A majority of the starters played in all 3 national championship games and went 43–2 in their 3-year stint, a number unrivaled in Division I FCS football. The Bison only lost 2 games in the three-year span by a combined 6 points. Through 2013, the Bison outscored their opponents by a combined 581–169 (+412) on the season. Only two other teams in FCS history have had a larger point spread through a season, 1996 Marshall (+448) and 1999 Georgia Southern (+485). Unlike the Marshall and Georgia Southern teams, NDSU's defense held their opponents to just 127 points in the regular season (11.5 ppg) and just 11 point on average through the playoffs that year. NDSU won its playoff games with an average margin of victory of 32.75 points, which just falls behind the 1996 Marshall team, which averaged a 34-point spread. In 2013, the Bison tallied three shutouts, and held nine teams to 10 points or less, including a streak of nine consecutive quarters without allowing a point. The offense was known for a ground-and-pound strategy, which wore opponents down and controlled the time of possession. The team averaged over 34 minutes of possession per game, while allowing an average of just 250 yards of opposing offense. In the 12 playoff games they played from 2011-13, they allowed an average of 9.3 points per game, an FCS record. The only playoff loss the seniors experienced in their 4-year career was the 38–31 OT loss at eventual champion Eastern Washington in 2010 in the FCS quarterfinals. The span of seasons that followed for NDSU in the years after that overtime loss are easily the best and most dominant years Division I football has seen from a single team.

FCS records

  • 5 Consecutive FCS Championships (2011-2015)
  • 33 Consecutive Wins (2012–2014) (3rd Longest in past 50 years of NCAA Division I football.)
  • 30 Straight Weeks at #1 in the FCS Coaches Poll (2012–2014)
  • 20 Straight Weeks at #1 in the STATS Poll (2012-2013) (30 weeks at #1 out of 31)
  • 10 Consecutive Weeks with at least 1 vote in the AP Top 25 College Football Poll (2014)
  • 22 Consecutive Playoff/Post-season Wins (2011–2016)
  • 5 Seasons with votes in the AP College Football Poll (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016)
  • Ranked 29th in the AP Top 25 College Football Poll (2013 season) (Highest end of season ranking by an FCS team)
  • 45 Consecutive Non-Conference Home wins (Ended 12/16/2016 with playoff loss to James Madison University)
  • Ranked 27th in the AP Top 25 College Football Poll (week 4, 2016 season) (Highest ranking by an FCS team)
  • 74 Total AP votes for FBS Top-25 ranking (week 4, 2016) (Most votes received by any FCS team)
  • 22 Consecutive Road Wins (2012–2014)
  • Division II Records

  • 8 National Championships (1965, 1968, 1969, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990)
  • Missouri Valley Football Conference Records

  • 18 Consecutive Conference Wins (2012–2014)
  • 26 Consecutive Home Wins (2012–2015)
  • Current streaks

  • 6 Consecutive Conference Championships (2011–Present)
  • 6 Consecutive Wins against FBS Competition (2010–Present) FCS Record
  • 7 Consecutive Winning Seasons (50 winning seasons in last 53 years)
  • 7 Consecutive Playoff Appearances (2010–Present)
  • 18 Consecutive Home Opening Wins (1999–Present) (23/24 Overall in Fargodome)
  • 86 Consecutive Weeks ranked in the FCS Stats Poll Top-10 (Since Week 2 in 2011)
  • 92 Consecutive Games Scoring (2010–Present)
  • Fargodome

    The Bison have played in the Fargodome since it opened in 1993. It holds 18,700 for football games and over 19,000 including standing room only tickets. The record attendance at the Fargodome is 19,108 when the Bison played Missouri State on October 12, 2013. The Bison had never lost a playoff game in the Fargodome (going a perfect 17–0) until they were beat by James Madison University on December 16, 2016 during the FCS semifinals. The tremendous crowd noise caused by the Fargodome's steel roof disrupts many opposing offenses and creates one of the best home field advantages in college football

    Football Records in the Fargodome

  • Playoffs: 18–1 (.947)
  • Home Openers: 23–1 (.958)
  • Overall Record: 135–24 (.849)
  • 47 Consecutive home games drawing 18,000 fans or more (96% Capacity)
  • In 2011, the Fargodome was ranked as the 49th best stadium in all of college football. The article cites, "There aren't many indoor venues in college football, but the few that do exist at the non-FBS level are very unfriendly to any visiting team. That effect is only amplified in a playoff atmosphere." The Fargodome is routinely ranked as one of the loudest college football stadiums in the country. In 2016, Stadium Journey ranked the Fargodome as the #2 Best FCS stadium to experience a game in On December 10, 2011 in a game against Lehigh, the crowd noise was measured at 111 decibels, comparable to when the New Orleans Saints play in the Superdome. During the 2011 playoffs, the decibel level spiked past 130 decibels several times but was not an official measurement. On December 14, 2012 in an FCS semifinal game against Georgia Southern, the crowd noise exceeded the 115 decibel mark and was known to be one of the loudest games in NDSU history. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead conducted an informal study of Fargodome crowd noise from the press box during a playoff semifinal game last December. The readings showed a high of 111 decibels following a late touchdown by quarterback Brock Jensen. The decibel meter consistently read 102–106 throughout that game, according to The Forum. During the 2013 Furman playoff game, the crowd noise was measured at 115 decibels. During the 2015 playoffs against Montana, the crowd noise measured 120 decibels, the Bison beat the Grizz 37–6 avenging their season opening loss in Missoula. The record for the loudest indoor stadium crowd was set in 2013 at the Sacramento Kings stadium Sleep Train Arena at 126 decibels. Due to the notorious noise, the Fargodome is sometimes referred to as the "Thunderdome".

    National championships

    North Dakota State have won 13 national championships; three as a member of the College Division (precursor of Division II and Division II), five as a member of Division II, and five as a member of Division I (FCS). The Bison have been the runner-up three times (1967, 1981, 1984) and have appeared in a total of 16 national championship games.

    Record against FBS competition

    Overall (9–3)

    Record against Missouri Valley Football Conference

    North Dakota State has a winning record against every team in the Missouri Valley Conference except the UNI Panthers.

    Conference championships

    North Dakota State has won 33 conference championships; North Central Conference (26), Great West (1), Missouri Valley (6)

    Division I (FCS)


    North Dakota State has appeared in 7 straight NCAA Division I FCS playoff berths and has made 7 consecutive Quarterfinal appearances, 6 consecutive Semifinal appearances, and 5 consecutive national championship games, winning them all. The Bison have an overall record of 24–1 in post-season play since becoming eligible in 2008, including a current record streak of 22 consecutive playoff wins from 2011 to present. Since the beginning of 2011, NDSU has won 5 National Championships and gone 83–6 which included a 33-game winning streak from 2012 to 2014; the longest streak in both NDSU and D1-FCS history. NDSU is the only college football program at any level to win five consecutive NCAA National Championships. The Bison have never lost a playoff game in the Fargodome, going a perfect 18–0; their last home playoff loss was in 1992 against the Minnesota State Mavericks while NDSU was still a member of Division II, and also the season before the Fargodome opened. The ESPN television program College GameDay hosted their program from downtown Fargo on September 21, 2013 to cover NDSU's run and returned for a second visit on September 13, 2014.

    Division II


    North Dakota State appeared in 23 NCAA Division II postseasons from 1964 to 2003. During this stretch NDSU compiled a 347–94–4 record winning almost 80% of their games for four decades and claiming eight Championships along the way. NDSU appeared in seven out of 10 Championship games from 1981–1990; including appearing in four straight Championship games, an unrivaled number in DII as they posted a 111–16–2 (.875) mark from 1981–1990. While this is a startling record, from 1964 to 1973 the Bison went 90–12–1 (.887) which included a 35-game unbeaten streak.

  • At the end of the 1984 championship game NDSU took the lead on a field goal making it 17–15 with 1:36 left; after being on the Troy State 2-yard line and settling for 3 points. Troy State subsequently drove down the field with no timeouts to the Bison's 33 yard line with :15 remaining. With apparent confusion on the field Troy State (known since 2005 as simply Troy) rushed the field goal team out on the field and freshman kicker Ted Clem kicked the longest field goal in Troy history of 50 yards as time expired to give the Trojans the victory.
  • Head coaching history

    Chris Klieman is the 30th and current head coach of the Bison who has a 38–4 record as head coach since 2014 and won the National Championship in 2014 and 2015. Craig Bohl holds the record for most wins in school history with 104 in his 10-year career averaging over 10 wins per season. Rocky Hager holds the record for most conference titles won with 5.

    Single-game leaders

  • Passing Yards: 451 – Steve Walker (2006)
  • Rushing Yards: 263 – Tyler Roehl (2007) [vs. The University of Minnesota]
  • Receiving Yards: 232 – Len Kretchman (1988)
  • Single-season leaders

  • Passing Yards: 2,874 – Carson Wentz (2014)
  • Rushing Yards: 1,920 – John Crockett (2014)
  • Receiving Yards: 1,191 – Zach Vraa (2013)
  • Field Goals Made: 29‡ – Adam Keller (2014)
  • Points By a Kicker: 145‡ – Adam Keller (2014)
  • Career leaders

  • Passing Yards: 7,651 – Brock Jensen (2010–2014)
  • Rushing Yards: 4,700 – Lamar Gordon (1997–2001)
  • Receiving Yards: 2,957 – Zach Vraa (2011–2016)
  • Field Goals Made: 53 – Adam Keller (2011–2015)
  • Career Starts: 61‡ – Christian Dudzik (2011–2015)
  • Wins By a Quarterback: 48‡ – Brock Jensen (2010–2014)
  • Denotes FCS Record

    Bison Records

  • Longest Field Goal: 55 Yards - Ken Johnson (1997 vs. SDSU)
  • Longest TD Run from Scrimmage: 90 Yards - Cy Peschel (1928 vs. SDSU)
  • Longest Run from Scrimmage: 75 Yards - Arden Beachy (1992 vs. Mankato State)
  • Longest TD Pass: 88 Yards - Kelly Artz from Kevin Feeny (1995 vs. Northern Colorado)
  • Longest Punt: 82 Yards - Brian Kraabel (1975 vs. SDSU)
  • Longest Punt Return: 98 Yards (for TD) - Fritz Hansen (1934 vs. Oklahoma City)
  • Longest Kick Return: 100 Yards (for TD) - Elmer Parisien (1923 vs. South Dakota)
  • Longest Pass Interception Return: 99 Yards (for TD) - Peter Gergen (1927 vs. DePaul)
  • Longest Fumble Recovery Return: 79 Yards - Claudie Miller (1925 vs. North Dakota)
  • Longest Blocked Kick Return: 71 Yards - Jerry Dahl (1974 vs. North Dakota) & Rick Buddle (1976 vs. Morningside)
  • Bison in the NFL Draft

    *Note: This list only includes players taken in the NFL Draft, it does not include those players who signed contracts with NFL teams outside the draft and the CFL

    NDSU players currently in the NFL

  • As of 3/11/2017
  • Stadiums

  • Dacotah Field, 1910–1992: 82 Years
  • Fargodome, 1993–present: 24 Years
  • References

    North Dakota State Bison football Wikipedia

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