ISU's first-game hopes soar after 3 NDSU players suspended

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Heading into the season, I thought that North Dakota State might have a chance to spring an upset and ruin Paul Rhoads' first game as a head coach at Iowa State on Sept. 3.

But recent news has tempered those upset plans.

North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl announced Tuesday that three more key players will be suspended for his team's opener, the Fargo Forum reported. All were arrested last spring for driving under the influence.

Starting wide receiver Shamen Washington, defensive end Garrett Johnson and backup quarterback Jose Mohler all will be missing for the Iowa State game. And backup linebacker Blake Sczepanski, the fourth Bison cited for DUI in the past six months, remains indefinitely suspended.

"We've probably faced more adversity than we've ever had," Bohl told the Forum.

Already, backup quarterback Troy Jackson was dismissed from the team for off-the-field issues unrelated to being arrested for marijuana possession. Wide receiver Jordan Schultenover was dismissed from the team in May and later charged with possession of marijuana and intent to deliver.

Bohl, a former Nebraska defensive coordinator, had fashioned an impressive FCS program that had a knack for playing FBS opponents closely in previous seasons. The Bison won at Ball State in 2006, at Minnesota in 2007 and nearly upset Wyoming in Laramie last season.

I would have thought that Bohl's familiarity with the Iowa State program, coupled with first-game jitters from the Cyclones under Rhoads, might provide NDSU with the opportunity to spring another surprise.