As the Big 12 blog clearly noted in the Week 1 game predictions earlier this week, North Dakota State is not your garden variety FCS team. The Bison have won the past two Division 1 national championships and their past three games against FBS teams.
The foresight ended there when we still picked Kansas State to win big.
Instead, the Bison marched 80 yards on 18 plays during a drive that lasted 8:30 to score what would be the game-winning touchdown on a one yard run by quarterback Brock Jensen with just 28 seconds left. Wildcats quarterback Jake Waters, making his first start for K-State, threw the game-sealing interception on a subsequent desperation heave and North Dakota State pulled out the 24-21 win.
And on the very day a statue of K-State coach Bill Snyder was unveiled outside the stadium named after Bill Snyder, no less.
Although it should be considered an upset, the Bison were becoming a trendy pick during the week to put Kansas State, the reigning Big 12 champions, on alert. And, well, Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel called it.
This will be the only Tweet, I promise. For posterity sake http://t.co/zDdFquUGmw (bottom of page)— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) August 31, 2013
North Dakota State was impressive up front, putting together scoring drives of 11 and 18 plays in the second half. The Bison's offensive line paved the way for over 200 yards on the ground, with running back Sam Ojuri taking advantage to the tune of 126 yards on just 10 carries.
On the other side of the ball, North Dakota State was able to apply pressure to Waters, forcing him into a pair of interceptions, and held the Wildcats to just 40 yards rushing on 23 carries. It was an unfamiliar scene for a program used to the bruising running style of running back John Hubert and former quarterback Collin Klein.
Bill Snyder: "I believe we prepared reasonably well, but I don't think our effort was what I would have liked for it to be."— Kellis Robinett (@KellisRobinett) August 31, 2013
But it was K-State's defense, which couldn't get off the field when it needed to, that ultimately cost the Wildcats the game. The Bison converted on 11 of 17 third down opportunities and dominated time of possession, controlling the ball for over 36 minutes. This is a K-State defensive unit that lost several starters from last year, including linebacker and emotional leader Arthur Brown.
The Wildcats face Louisiana-Lafayette at home next week as they try to pick up the pieces and get back on the right side of the win column.