By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
BOONE, N.C. — It should surprise no one that North Dakota State claimed another Football Bowl Subdivision scalp with a rather routine, 34-14 victory at Iowa State on Saturday afternoon.
The Bison, coming off a record-tying three consecutive NCAA Division I Football titles, even spotted the Cyclones 14 points before blowing them out over the final three quarters.
Even the teams that NDSU competes with in the Missouri Valley Conference normally put up a better fight than that. Even the Big 12’s men in stripes couldn’t keep this a close game.
It was the fifth consecutive FBS win for the mighty, mighty Bison, who had previously bagged their limit of Minnesota Golden Gophers, Colorado State Rams, Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats.
But then when you are talking about a team that has won 25 consecutive games, the body bags are accumulating at a fast and furious pace.
Iowa State was actually the last FBS team to topple North Dakota State back in 2009, but then that was a Bison club that won only three games.
A lot has changed in Fargo, N.D. since that season-opening, 34-17 drubbing by the Cyclones, national title wins in back-to-back years over Sam Houston State and last season against Towson included.
Still, as NDSU seeks an unprecedented fourth consecutive Football Championship Subdivision crown, there were some big questions.
How would the Bison replace an incredible senior class that included four-year starting quarterback Brock Jensen and All-American cornerback Marcus Williams? There were 12 starters missing from that 2013 national title squad.
And what would be the impact on the lose of most of the team’s coaching staff, formost the even-keeled leader Craig Bohl, who left after last season to attempt the resurrection of the moribund Wyoming program? (Bohl won his first game with the Cowboys on Saturday, surviving a Wyoming-sized thunderstorm to hold off Montana, 17-12).
Many of those concerns were laid to rest on Saturday during the final three quarters of play against Iowa State.
Bohl told this writer in person last season at Youngstown State that one of the things he was most proud of was how the NDSU program had developed depth during his tenure in Fargo.
Bohl was particularly jazzed about his back-up quarterback Carson Wentz, who faces the enviable task this season of replacing the winningest signal-caller in FCS history, Jensen.
All Wentz did on Saturday was hit an efficient 18-of-28 passes for 204 yards, while most importantly tossing no interceptions and leading an offense which suffered zero turnovers.
Iowa State took a 14-0 lead less than a minute into the second quarter, but speedy tailback John Crockett changed the game for good just 17 seconds later when he scampered 80 yards for the first North Dakota State score.
Before he was done, Crockett (17 carries, 139 yards) had two more touchdowns from one yard and three yards out and the Bison were on their way to increasing their impressive win streak.
That mean and nasty North Dakota State defense was equally effective, limiting Iowa State to 253 yards and only 16 first downs.
It was a nice debut as a head coach for Chris Klieman, who must fill some sizable shoes left by the success of Bohl.
North Dakota State sports information director and genuine nice guy Jeff Schwartz reported after the game that four of those five FBS wins (minus the Kansas victory in 2010) had netted the Bison athletic program more than $1.3 million.
FBS teams can rest easy in 2015, knowing that NDSU will not be adding any other jewels to its major college resume, since no FBS schools are scheduled again until 2016, when the Bison will be paid a nice half-million to play at Iowa.