Last season, the North Dakota State Bison upset Minnesota from the Big Ten on their way to winning the Division I FCS playoffs. For a third straight year the Bison have beaten an FBS foe as they topped Colorado State 22-7 in Fort Collins, Co. on Saturday night.
Brock Jenson threw for 178 yards and a touchdown while Sam Ojuri rushed for 58 yards and a score. It was the defense that did the job for NDSU, as they held the Rams scoreless for the final three periods after taking a 16-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
the Colorado State offense struggled to make any headway against the Bison. The Rams gained only 243 yards and managed a first quarter touchdown pass from Garrett Grayson to Crockett Gilmore. Colorado State also earned just 11 first downs and had 101 yards of penalties.
In addition to beating Minnesota 37-34 last season the Bison beat Kansas 6-3 in 2010.
Fresh off an upset victory over the Colorado Buffaloes, the Colorado State Rams are struggling early against the defending FCS Champion North Dakota State Bison, trailing 19-7.
Things looked to be going CSU's way early as Garrett Grayson found Crockett Gilmore for a 69-yard touchdown pass just 90 seconds into the game. The Bison answered back quickly, though, with a six-yard touchdown run by Sam Ojuri to tie the game at 7-7.
A safety with 5:34 remaining in the first quarter gave North Dakota State the lead and they added to it with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Brock Jensen to Ojuri in the final seconds of the first quarter.
A field goal as time expired in the half extended the NDSU lead to 12 points.
Colorado State will be facing a tough test this week against North Dakota State, the Football Championship Subdivision champions last season who featured a pair of successful running backs and a dominant defense. Perhaps the biggest test, however, is going to be figuring out how to handle quarterback Brock Jensen.
"I'm really impressed with their quarterback and how he handles taking what the defense gives you," said CSU coach Jim McElwain, whose Rams face the Bison 5 p.m. Saturday at Hughes Stadium.
Jensen brought balance to the North Dakota State offense, passing for 2,524 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and perfectly complimenting the team's dangerous running attack. NDSU defeated Robert Morris in the first game of the season, 52-0, showcasing yet again the balance that won the FCS championship in 2011.
Nwoke rushed for 47 yards on 11 carries in the Rams' 22-17 win over the Colorado Buffaloes last Saturday, but sat out the fourth quarter after injuring his left ankle. He was held out of practice for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, wearing a protective boot on his injured ankle, and head coach Jim McElwain was forced to make a decision on the running back's status for Saturday.
"Nwoke, it doesn't look like he'll [play], but the thing of it is, Donnell Alexander has really stepped up and taken a leadership role," said McElwain.
The explosive freshman Alexander rushed for 66 yards on eight carries in Nwoke's absence, and returned three kicks for 76 yards.
Nwoke was the Rams' leading rusher in 2011, with 1,130 yards and an average of 5.7 yards per carry, the highest mark by a Rams rusher since 1997.
"I know that these guys are coming in here expecting ... they know how to win. They built a program that expects to win," he said. "What our guys have to understand is satisfaction. If you're satisfied, then you're mediocre. So the satisfaction of getting a win means nothing. That should have been expected."
North Dakota State won 37-24 at Minnesota in 2011. That was the only FBS opponent on the slate last year which the Bison completed in a dominating 14-1 fashion on the way to an FCS national championship. The Bison were also responsible for spoiling the first game of Turner Gill's tenure as Kansas' head coach; North Dakota State won that game 6-3 at Kansas.
The Bison's last loss to an FBS school was Sept. 3, 2009, a 34-17 loss at Iowa State.
The Rams kick off against North Dakota State on Saturday at 5 p.m. MT.
Colorado State's first win over rival Colorado since 2009 may have come at a price. According to the Denver Post, starting running back Chris Nwoke is questionable for Saturday's game against North Dakota State after injuring his ankle against Colorado.
Nwoke rushed for 47 yards on 11 carries in the Rams' win, but did not play in the fourth quarter after injuring the ankle. He did not practice today and, according to rules set forth by new coach Jim McElwain, Nwoke must practice on Wednesday or he will not be permitted to play.
In Nwoke's absence, freshman Donnell Alexander acquitted himself nicely, rushing for 66 yards on just eight carries. But losing Nwoke would be no small thing. Last season, he burst onto the scene after being made the feature back for the Rams during the season. At one juncture, Nwoke rushed for 156 and 232 yards in consecutive weeks, then posted a 269-yard game two weeks later -- bringing his 2011 rushing total to 1,130 yards.