COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Georgia Southern comes to Bisonville after all

FARGO -- Here's a little humor from "Seinfeld," one of the best sitcoms in television history. "I started riding these trains in the 1940s," a woman says to Elaine Benes as they are riding the subway. "Those days a man would give up their seat fo...

Warren Holoway of North Dakota State University
Warren Holoway of North Dakota State University completes a pass in the end zone as Bryan Andrews of Lehigh University tried to stop it during the quarterfinal game Saturday in the Fargodome. Dave Wallis / The Forum

FARGO -- Here's a little humor from "Seinfeld," one of the best sitcoms in television history.

"I started riding these trains in the 1940s," a woman says to Elaine Benes as they are riding the subway. "Those days a man would give up their seat for a woman. Now we're liberated and we have to stand."

"It's ironic," Elaine says.

"What's ironic?" the woman asks.

"This, that we've come all this way," Elaine says. "We have made all this progress, but you know we've lost the little things, the niceties."


"No," the woman says. "I mean, what does 'ironic' mean."

If you really want to know the definition of ironic, look to North Dakota State's football team -- which will be playing at 1:30 p.m. Saturday for a chance to advance to the program's first national championship game since 1990.

The 12-1 Bison will be playing an FCS semifinal game against 11-2 Georgia Southern, a team that paid NDSU $60,000 to opt out of its scheduled Sept. 10 regular-season game in the Fargodome.

"It is kind of ironic," said NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor. "They didn't want to come up here this year and they end up coming here anyway."

It's also ironic that Georgia Southern's offense is a clone of all those NDSU teams that won five national championships from 1983 to 1990. Simply put, the Eagles run the ball out of an explosive option formation.

If you thought Chris Simdorn, Tony Satter, Marty Sieh were explosive during NDSU's 1990 Division II national championship run, take a look at Georgia Southern's triple-option attack -- led by quarterback Jaybo Shaw who has had the option of handing off or pitching the football to as many as six running backs.

This is irony: For the Bison to play in their first national title game in 21 years, they must figure out how to stop an offense their opponents could not stop back for nearly three decades.

So far this season, the only team to slow down Georgia Southern was Appalachian State -- which beat the Eagles 21-14 by limiting them to 135 yards rushing.


Not even Alabama could slow down Georgia Southern. Yes, the Alabama that will be playing for the big-boy national championship next month.

Even though Georgia Southern lost 45-21 in front of more than 100,000 fans in Tuscaloosa, it rushed for 302 yards. Alabama entered that game allowing only 52 yards rushing and 7 points per game.

"They run an offense that is very difficult to defend," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said after that game. "This has been a tough week for us from a defensive standpoint and I'm glad it's over."

Georgia Southern not only earned $400,000 by playing at Alabama, they earned the Crimson Tide's respect as well.

"They made us better today," said one Alabama player.

And that game played one week before these FCS playoffs began seemed to have made Georgia Southern even better.

In its 55-48 opening-round win over Old Dominion (the most combined points in FCS history), Georgia Southern ran for 477 yards and amassed 607 total yards. Dominque Swope, the Eagles leading rusher with a 77-yard average, busted loose for a career-high 255 yards in that game.

"We couldn't stop them," said Old Dominion head coach Bobby Wilder. "It was a helpless feeling."


This past Saturday before NDSU's defense pitched a 24-0 shutout over Lehigh, Georgia Southern ran for 360 yards in its 35-23 quarterfinal win over Maine. For good measure, Shaw passed for 116 yards completing 7 of 8 passes.

The triple-option offense is one opponents just don't see that often.

"We don't see it a lot," Maine coach Jack Cosgrove said, perhaps adding some optimism in defending this running attack that ranks second in the nation. "I thought we got better as the game went on but time ran out on us."

Georgia Southern has certainly gotten better since the last time the Bison played them in 2006. That's when the Bison left Statesboro, Ga., with a 34-14 win. Since then, the program has begun to return to national prominence with second-year head coach Jeff Monken.

Much like NDSU trying to return to its national championship glory days, so too is Georgia Southern - which won six national titles from 1985 to 2000.

Now that's ironic.

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