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The wait is over. Montana State finally knows who it will face Saturday in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.NDSU Bison logo

The lucky team? The North Dakota State Bison.

NDSU (8-4) moved on with a 43-17 first-round victory over Robert Morris Saturday night at the FargoDome. The Bison will invade Bobcat Stadium for a noon kickoff. The winner will advance to the third round, where it will face the winner of the Eastern Washington/Southeast Missouri State game.

So what do Bobcat fans need to know about North Dakota State? A former Division II power, this is a team with a proud tradition. This is the Bison's first-ever playoff shot, but has done very well while transitioning to the FCS: A couple years ago, they were ranked No. 1 in The Sports Network Top 25 poll.

Under head coach Craig Bohl, the 2010 verson of NDSU doesn't have a very potent offense, but uses a good running game and a stingy defense to topple opponents. Bohl played at Nebraska, and also served as the Huskers' defensive coordinator in their 1990s heyday. So it's no wonder the Bison are tough.

And they have some talent. A couple players the Bobcats need to key on are running back D.J. McNorton and receiver Warren Holloway. McNorton rushed for 1,118 yards and nine TDs during the regular season, and tore up Robert Morris on Saturday with 220 yards of total offense and a pair of touchdowns. Holloway averages 14.3 yards per catch but is a proven deep threat.

Defensively, the Bison held teams to around 16 points per game this season, the top number in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Fans of the high school football scene may remember Bison linebacker Brandon Jemison, who won his team's Defensive MVP honor following the 2009 Badlands Bowl at Denton Field in Miles City. Jemison has blossomed into one NDSU's top defenders.

The Bison's most impressive win was its season-opening victory over Kansas of the Big 12 Conference, a 6-3 decision.

Saturday's game will not be the first meeting between MSU and NDSU. The Bobcats beat the Bison 20-17 in Bozeman in 2005.

Below is a look at the statistical tale of the tape from the regular season (conference ranking in parentheses):

34.5 (1)
Scoring ofense 21.8 (8)
24.4 (3)
Scoring defense 16.6 (1)
179.4 (3)
Rushing offense 147.5 (7)
134.7 (4)
Rushing defense 170.6 (5)
279.0 (1)
Passing offense 157.2 (9)
245.8 (6)
Passing defense 192.1 (5)
458.4 (1)
Total offense 304.7 (9)
380.5 (4)
Total defense 362.7 (4)
72 of 153, 47.1% (1)
Third downs
35 of 130, 26.9% (9)
23 (4) Sacks 25 (t-2)
13 (2)
Sacks allowed 30 (t-8)
45 of 51, 88.2% (2)
Red zone scoring 26 of 37, 70.3% (8)
Plus-3 (4) Turnover margin Plus-9 (t-1)


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