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NDSU's Klieman goes to bat for Indiana State in FCS selection process

FARGO -- The Missouri Valley Football Conference put three teams into the Division I FCS playoffs. North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman believes it should have been four.

FARGO -- The Missouri Valley Football Conference put three teams into the Division I FCS playoffs. North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman believes it should have been four.

He would like to know why Indiana State did not reach the field of 24, which was announced Sunday, Nov. 18. The Bison, 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in both the FCS coaches and STATS.com media polls, received the No. 1 seed and will receive a first-round bye.

NDSU hosts the winner of the Incarnate Word (Texas) at Montana State first-round game. South Dakota State of the Missouri Valley got the No. 5 seed and will play the winner of Duquesne (Pa.) and Towson (Md.). Valley member Northern Iowa hosts Lamar (Texas) on Saturday in the first round.

Meanwhile, Indiana State - the winners of five straight - saw its season end.

“I think anybody can take what they see in the bracket and say should this team have gone here, should this team have gone there,” Klieman said. “The only thing I didn’t agree with on the committee is Indiana State should be in the field. I think they’re one of the best 24 teams and you can’t tell me the fourth-best team out of the Valley isn’t better than some of the teams -- and I’m not going to pick on one team or another.”

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NDSU didn’t play the Sycamores this season because of the 10-team, eight-game rotating Valley schedule. Klieman has seen Indiana State on film several times this season because the Sycamores played several Bison opponents.

Klieman gave kudos to second-year ISU head coach Curt Mallory, who along with Klieman were named on Monday as two of 15 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award. The honor goes to the FCS coach of the year.

“Watching Curt’s team play, watching them hammer a Youngstown State team that came in here and played really well,” Klieman said. “Watching them beat an Illinois State team that beat Colorado State and watching them beat a Western Illinois team that was playing for the playoffs, they had enough games down the stretch and they won them all.”

Two other Bison players on Monday were nominated for national honors. Quarterback Easton Stick is one of 25 finalists for the Walter Payton Award that goes to the top offensive player in the FCS. Linebacker Jabril Cox is finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award that goes to the top defensive player.

Bison junior Zack Johnson was named the Valley Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance in NDSU’s 65-17 win over Southern Illinois last Saturday. The Bison averaged 9.5 yards per carry on the ground and had 633 yards of total offense.

NDSU will practice Tuesday and Wednesday, take Thursday and Friday off for the Thanksgiving holiday and return to the field on Saturday night.

“I know we’re judged by what we do in the postseason with the success that we’ve had, I get that,” Klieman said. “But we’re going to celebrate a pretty remarkable regular season with this great team that we have and try to get healthy this week.”

The two most notable health concerns are starting cornerback Jalen Allison and running back Lance Dunn. Allison missed the last three games with a sprained MCL and Dunn is dealing with hamstring issues.

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Klieman said the hope is both will return at full speed for practice next week.

Related Topics: COLLEGE FOOTBALLCHRIS KLIEMAN
Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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