In this week’s My Thoughts Exactly, Daniel “Pinto” Gunderson looks back at the last time the North Dakota State University Bison visited Springfield, Mo. to play the Missouri State University Bears.
During head coach Craig Bohl’s weekly press conference, he was asked the question about why his team played so well on the road. Coach Bohl gave the usually coach spiel about “routine” and “formula.”
Whatever routine and formula coach Bohl and his staff have put together in the last 18 road games, it has worked. They are 14-4 over those last 18 games, including 9-0 in the last two seasons. Their last road loss was the heartbreaking playoff loss to Eastern Washington 38-31 in overtime.
Their last regular season road loss took place in Springfield, Mo., home of the Missouri State Bears. That just happens to be the place North Dakota State University will be visiting this Saturday as they look to go 10-0 on the road in the last two seasons.
The game two years ago was probably more important to NDSU’s playoff future than this one. Coach Bohl agreed with one of the reporters on Monday about that game being the last bad game the Bison have played on the road.
“That’s a long time ago. Bad mojo. We don’t want to talk about it,” said Bohl.
Two years ago, the playoff fortunes of the Bison football team still hung very much in the balance. They had already reached the magic number of seven wins, including a victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision school in Kansas.
One more win would all but solidify their first every spot in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The only thing standing in their way was the Bears, a team that is known more for their basketball than football.
Needless to say, it was assumed NDSU was going to go down to Springfield and beat MSU. It was the last game of the season, the Bison were playing extremely well and they needed the win. No one was thinking NDSU would come back to Fargo with anything outside of a victory.
Well, what the Bison displayed on the field was anything but a team on a mission. They punted nine times, had one turnover and one missed field goal. They ran the ball 27 times for 42-yards. They were 1-12 on third down conversions. It was not pretty.
This was not to say MSU was any better. The Bears missed three field goals in the first half before finally connecting on one in the third quarter to put them up 3-0. That ended up being the final score in what might be considered one of NDSU’s worst performances in the last three years.
It is worth thinking about that game this time around if you are an NDSU fan. The Bears are playing well, winning their last three games. They have a ton of confidence heading into this contest and haven’t been a team to go quietly this season.
Like returning to the scene of a bad accident, it will be somewhat of a healing process for NDSU to return to the Plaster Sports Complex. The best way to get rid of any lingering thoughts from their 2010 performance is just do what the Bison did to the Bears last year and beat them by 30 points.
That way, the next time coach Bohl is asked about going on the road to Springfield, he might refer to it as having good mojo.
Daniel “Pinto” Gunderson is the producer of the Mike McFeely Show, which can be heard 2-5 p.m. every weekday on 790 KFGO. You can follow him on Twitter @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook.