Minneapolis, MN -- The 7-0 North Dakota State Bison have been on my radar since they beat Central Michigan by 30 points on September 22nd.
The Bison should've raised a few more eyebrows with their latest triumph—a 27-21 win over Big Ten foe Minnesota.
On first blush, you'd probably be inclined to call this game an "upset," seeing that Minnesota belongs to NCAA's Bowl Subdivision (DI-A), while North Dakota State is a part of the Championship Subdivision (DI-AA).
But further investigation suggests otherwise.
North Dakota State "snuck up" on Minnesota about as much as the announcement of Kevin Federline's divorce from Britney Spears snuck up on the American public.
We all knew it was coming—it just took some time.
Trust me, Minnesota's first-year head coach Tim Brewster knew who the Bison were.
He knew about NDSU's win over Central Michigan. He knew about Minnesota's close call with the Bison in 2006, when the Gophers had to block a potential game-winning field goal to escape victoriously.
He even knew about NDSU recently being ranked as the No. 1 team in the FCS.
"I know about the little guys in green coming to Minnesota," Brewster said before the game. "We're going to be ready to play."
Unfortunately for Brewster and his 1-7 Gophers, they weren't quite ready enough.
NDSU dominated almost every aspect of the game, winning the statistical battle in each of the following categories: first downs, rushing yards, passing yards, total yards, penalties, time of possession, and third down conversions.
Bison QB Steve Walker was successful on 80 percent of his passes (20-25) and accounted for two TDs, while tailback Tyler Roehl rushed for 263 yards and a score.
Roehl's second rush of the game—a 77-yard scamper to knot the score at 7-7—should've let Minnesota's defense know they were in for a long game.
The Bison finished with 585 total yards on the day.
Interestingly enough, NDSU won't even be eligible to play in the FCS playoffs this year, despite their impressive record. They're in their last year of a short transition period after their move from Div. II.
If nothing else, NDSU head coach Craig Bohl hopes the performance can earn some national attention for his Bison. NDSU is an eight-time national champion, last winning a National Title in 1990 (Div. II).
North Dakota State students and fans had this game marked on their calendars after last year's crushing loss to the Gophers, proclaiming it "Operation Dome Invasion II."
With Minnesota's new TCF Bank Stadium scheduled to open in the Fall of 2009, NDSU can rest easy knowing the Metrodome belongs to them.
Next up for NDSU: Southern Utah in the Harvest Bowl on October 27 at 2 PM EST.
NDSU-UM photo: (gophersports.com)