Wofford making bid to be the next Southern Conference power
FARGO—There was a time when the Southern Conference was all about Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, two historically-rich programs that put together a couple of the best title-winning streaks in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Georgia Southern was dominant in the FCS in the 1980s and '90s. App State won three national titles in a row from 2005-07 and still has the signature FBS upset when it won at the University of Michigan. But both GSU and Appalachian bolted for the FBS Sun Belt Conference after the 2014 season, leaving the league devoid of two high-level programs.
Perhaps the next school to move into that SoCon perennial-power slot is coming to Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome on Saturday morning. Wofford College (S.C.) has reached 10 wins for the second consecutive season and the Terriers and their triple-option offense are the next test for the Bison in the FCS football quarterfinals.
"No question, every year they're up there," said Bison head coach Chris Klieman. "Every year they have a phenomenal program."
Klieman referenced last year's Wofford and Youngstown State quarterfinal game when the Penguins won 30-23 in two overtimes. Youngstown went on to reach the FCS title game against James Madison.
"That was a battle back and forth and it looked like a Missouri Valley conference game," Klieman said. "Obviously the offense was different but the physicality wasn't and the athleticism wasn't and so that's what I see—a Missouri Valley-type of physical athletic opponent coming in here, they're just running a different scheme."
Wofford has been the master of the close-win this season, coming out ahead in seven games decided by seven points or less. Four of those were decided by three points or fewer.
It will be the second time the Bison have faced the Terriers in the playoffs. NDSU took a 14-7 victory in the 2012 quarterfinals, a game in which Wofford had a 326-262 edge in total yards. The Terriers ran the ball 51 times out of their 58 plays.
This version of Wofford throws it a little more. Quarterback Brandon Goodson is 69 of 124 passing for 1,052 yards.
"They have the ability to throw it more," Klieman said. "It depends on what you show them and how the game is going. They have a lot of athletes with good speed. I think they're faster this year than they were in 2012."
Klieman said he'll know more about cornerback Jalen Allison, who sat out the second half in the second round win over the University of San Diego because of concussion symptoms, on Tuesday or Wednesday. NDSU is also in hopes of getting linebacker Levi Jordheim back to full speed this week.
"He ran yesterday and is going to try some change of direction today," Klieman said.
What: Wofford College (S.C.) at North Dakota State
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome
Radio: 107.9-FM, 92.7-FM, 1660-AM. TV: ESPN2