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Bison notebook: At least 3 football games primed to pack Fargodome

NDSU vs. UND in last regular season game already a near sellout

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North Dakota State's Hunter Luepke was named to the Walter Payton Award "Watch List" on Wednesday.
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FARGO — North Dakota State football attendance has taken a downward trend in the last few years. But early indications after single-game tickets went on sale Monday is that at least three games at Gate City Bank at the Fargodome are headed for at least a near sellout.

Certainly the University of North Dakota game on Nov. 19 will be full. Only single tickets remain, according to the Bison ticket office. More tickets will most likely be released the week of the game.

“UND is the one that is really low right now,” said Kaye Ternes, NDSU’s assistant athletic director for ticket operations.

About 900 tickets remain for the Dakota Marker game against South Dakota State on Oct. 15. Around 800 are left for the homecoming game Oct. 1 against Youngstown State.

Capacity of the dome is 18,700 with standing room available after that. Last year, the Bison averaged 15,101 fans in nine home games, although those included second-round and quarterfinal FCS playoff games against Southern Illinois and East Tennessee State that drew 12,557 and 11,794 fans, respectively.

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NDSU’s four Missouri Valley Football Conference games last year averaged 16,183 fans.

The home game slate this year in the Missouri Valley will probably be more appealing to fans with SDSU, UND, Youngstown and Illinois State.

Last year, NDSU had perennial big draw Northern Iowa, but also hosted Indiana State and Missouri State, both of which did not have the usual festive atmosphere despite Missouri State being much improved from previous years.

The Bison open with Drake University on Sept. 3. Interest is higher for the following week when North Carolina A&T, which is going to the Colonial Athletic Association next season. About 2,000 tickets remain for that game.

Luepke on Payton ‘Watch List’

Senior fullback Hunter Luepke has been on a lot of radars since being named the most valuable player of the FCS national title game in January. On Wednesday, he was one of 35 players on the “Watch List” for the Walter Payton Award that goes to the best offensive player in the FCS.

Luepke is a two-time first-team All-American as a fullback, although he was used more at tailback against Montana State last January, rushing 14 times for 82 yards and three touchdowns. During the season, he ran for 543 yards and eight touchdowns and also caught three touchdown passes.

Meanwhile, sophomore Kaedin Steindorf was one of 22 named to the FCS Punter of the Year watch list. He averaged 40.2 yards per punt last year with 18 punts landing inside the 20-yard line. The FCS Punter of the Year award was established in 2019 by the Augusta Sports Council, which is also home to the Ray Guy Award presented annually to the top punter at the FBS level.

‘Fan Day’ returns next Tuesday

NDSU’s annual “Fan Day” is set for next Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. on the south side of the Sanford Health Athletic Complex. Admission is free.

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Fans can watch the football team’s walk-through practice from 4:45-5:15 p.m. on the new practice turf with Bison football players joining NDSU’s soccer and volleyball players to meet with fans.

WDAY-TV will air its 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts live at the event.

The school will distribute “Champions Play Here” yard signs. Other attractions include Games to Go inflatables and carnival games, Pikadilly Face Painting, the NDSU Bookstore fan shop, Junior Bison Club packet pick-up and food trucks.

With ongoing construction at the Nodak Insurance Football Performance Complex, fans are asked to park in the Fargodome lot north of the SHAC, or in the R lot south and west of the Shelly Ellig Indoor Track & Field Facility.

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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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