Senior Day adds emotional flavor to NDSU's last regular season game

FARGO -- Saturday, Nov. 17, is Senior Day for the North Dakota State football team, a game to give a standing ovation to the 24 football players in their last year of eligibility. In reality, it's an entire week of reminiscing and saying thanks.

Lance Dunn (10) and Tanner Volson (74) are two of 24 seniors who will be playing their final regular-season home game this week for North Dakota State's football team. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

FARGO -- Saturday, Nov. 17, is Senior Day for the North Dakota State football team, a game to give a standing ovation to the 24 football players in their last year of eligibility. In reality, it’s an entire week of reminiscing and saying thanks.

Each of the 24 seniors will be given the opportunity to address the team at the end of each practice in advance of the final regular-season game of the season. The Bison will play host to Southern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.

Most of the seniors were in head coach Chris Klieman’s first recruiting class, which adds a different touch to this send-off ceremony. NDSU has a 49-5 record over the past four seasons.

“So they’ve been with most of our entire staff for five years,” Klieman said. “Watching them grow, mature and watching those guys that were freshmen at one time and seeing the maturation of all those guys. They’ve won a ton of football games, they’re all really good in the classroom and most of them have their degrees already or are getting them in December. They’ve done a bunch of things in community service. It’s going to be an emotional day on Saturday.”

The Bison, 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, have a chance to do something else: Run the table in the regular season and the league.


“We’re going to try and do something that doesn’t get done very often and that is to go undefeated in league play,” Klieman said.

The last time that happened was NDSU in 2013. It was done 10 others times before that in a conference that began in 1985. Southern Illinois was the only other team to go 8-0 in 2009, which came after the conference expanded to nine teams.

NDSU remained the unanimous No. 1 team in both the FCS coaches and media top 25 polls on Monday. The number of Missouri Valley teams, however, continues to disappear. South Dakota State is a top five team in both polls, but only Indiana State at No. 24 in the coaches poll is carrying the rest of the league.

Illinois State and Northern Iowa dropped out after losses on Saturday. Indiana State (6-4) is on the verge of cracking the STATS poll.

Bison quarterback Easton Stick was named the Valley Offensive Player of the Week after tying a school record with five touchdown passes. The senior completed his first 11 passes in the 48-7 win at Missouri State.

The FCS playoff selection show is set for 11:30 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU. Predictably, Klieman didn’t want to get too much into bracket speculation. If the Bison win, they’ll unquestionably be the top team. If the Salukis win, the top seeds could get even muddier with top 10 teams continually being upset late in the year.

“All the other things, we can’t control what they do with selections and all that other stuff,” Klieman said. “I don’t really care to talk about that; we don’t have anything to do with it.”

On the injury front, Klieman said he’s hopeful senior cornerback Jalen Allison will return this week. He’s been out since injuring his knee at South Dakota on Oct. 27.


“He was close last week,” Klieman said, “but because we were outside, we just didn’t want to risk that. When he was injured, I think we all kind of earmarked Senior Day for him to play.”

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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