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Penguins playing poorly but NDSU's Klieman gives his support to Youngstown's Pelini

Youngstown State coach Bo Pelini congratulates North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman after the overtime game Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Youngstown, Ohio. David Samson / Forum News Service

FARGO — It hasn't been a smooth season for Youngstown State head football coach Bo Pelini. His team has underperformed at 3-5, it lost at home to non-scholarship Butler to open the season and the Penguins left Pelini disgusted following last Saturday's 43-17 home loss to Indiana State.

Pelini, a former NFL assistant and former head coach at Nebraska, does not have a contract after this season and there's speculation he may be looking elsewhere. Regardless, he has a big supporter in North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman.

"I'm really a big fan of Bo, have a ton of respect of what he's done for college football," Klieman said. "Him being in our league has given us great credibility. We have good credibility but it's enhanced that credibility having him in the league. Only Bo knows what he's going to do. I know one thing, he has many more options than most of us head coaches in the league because of his pedigree and because of what he's done. I hope he sticks around for a long time because he's a great competitor."

Klieman and Pelini are head coaches who used to be defensive coordinators.

"There are not a bunch of defensive head coaches in college football," Klieman said. "There are more in the Valley than most places, but not a bunch in college football."

Klieman got to know the Pelini family even better when the Bison were recruiting Patrick Pelini, Bo's son, for the 2017 signing day class. Patrick, a safety, eventually walked on to Notre Dame. Klieman saw Patrick Pelini when the Bison coach was a guest speaker at the Notre Dame coaches clinic last spring.

The two head coaches will face off again at 2:30 p.m. Saturday when the Bison host Youngstown State at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. NDSU is 8-0 and retained its top ranking in both the FCS coaches and media top 25 polls. The Bison are unanimous in both. NDSU can clinch a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference title with a win.

As usual this time of the season, the Bison are addressing injury issues. Klieman said starting cornerback Jalen Allison's knee injury is not as bad as they initially thought, classifying it as a knee injury that is not an ACL.

"Whether that makes it one week, two weeks or four weeks ... but it's not a surgical deal," Klieman said.

The status of running backs Bruce Anderson and Seth Wilson is still cloudy. Both are dealing with hamstring issues and both are on a week-to-week basis. Wilson, who hasn't played this season, warmed up prior to the 59-14 win over the University of South Dakota, but did not play. Anderson also didn't play against USD.

Bison center Tanner Volson was named the Missouri Valley Offensive Lineman of the Week, his second of the season and the fourth of his career. NDSU had a season-high 560 yards of total offense. Quarterback Easton Stick was not sacked in throwing for 176 yards and three touchdowns.

Klieman said true freshman Kenneth Channelle left the team because "I think he wanted to get back closer to home." Channelle, from Jacksonville, Fla., announced on his personal Twitter account on Sunday that he was going to transfer to another school. Channelle played in one game this season catching one pass.


What: Youngstown State at NDSU

When: 2:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Gate City Bank Field, Fargodome

TV: KVLY (NBC Network)