North Dakota State did it again.
The FCS school knocked off Kansas State, 24-21, at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Friday night in Manhattan, Kan. The Bison have defeated an FBS team each of the last four seasons as the Wildcats joined Kansas, Minnesota and Colorado State. NDSU scored 17 unanswered points to finish off the upset.
That's right, Kansas State paid NDSU $350,000 to come into its home stadium and give it a loss. In fact, NDSU, the two-time defending FCS champion, could pay the salary of coach Craig Bohl, who makes $206,000 per year, with the check it received for visiting the home of the defending Big 12 champion.
Bohl's team took its game to another level with the game on the line. The Bison went right at Kansas State, pounding the ball on the ground for an 18-play, 80-yard drive and taking 8:30 off the clock in the final quarter. NDSU quarterback Brock Jensen capped off the drive with a 1-yard plunge with 28 seconds remaining.
The inability to get off the field killed KSU’s defense, as it allowed the Bison to convert 11 of 17 third down conversion attempts, including 4-for-4 on the final drive. If KSU’s defense continues to struggle to get key defensive stops on third down, it could be a long season for the Wildcats, particularly against the explosive offenses of the Big 12.
The Wildcats' offense fell apart after taking a 21-7 lead on a Daniel Sams' 17-yard touchdown run with 9:58 left in the third quarter. KSU’s running game was stuffed by the Bison, who held the Wildcats to 41 yards on 23 carries (1.7 yards per carry). KSU’s lack of running game put the contest on the shoulders of quarterback Jake Waters, who finished 21-of-29 for 280 yards and two touchdowns but also threw two interceptions. Waters wasn’t horrible in his first start after winning the job over Sams, but he couldn’t come up with the critical plays when it mattered, as the Wildcats converted just two of 10 third-down conversion tries.
Clearly it’s back to the drawing board for Kansas State. Making key plays in key moments is often the difference. And the Wildcats couldn’t do that on Friday night. If that continues, a second straight Big 12 title could be out of reach for Bill Snyder and company.