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College football: A year has made a difference for Bison

FARGO - Almost exactly one year later, the season outlook has changed on the Monday before the first North Dakota State football game. Last year, head coach Craig Bohl talked about his players from 9-man high school football schools playing at a ...

FARGO - Almost exactly one year later, the season outlook has changed on the Monday before the first North Dakota State football game.

Last year, head coach Craig Bohl talked about his players from 9-man high school football schools playing at a Big 12 Conference opponent. Last year, NDSU was coming off a 3-8 season and Bohl said this of the team: "Until the lights come on, we really don't know."

The lights, new and improved at the Fargodome, will come on for the first time this season Saturday against Lafayette College (Pa.) at 6 p.m. Unlike last year, the Bison coaches have a better grasp of their team.

Expectations are different.

"I know we have a good football team," Bohl said Monday. "How far we can go ... I can't tell but we have some good components to have a good football team. I'm really excited; these guys have worked hard and we have ability.

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"That does not translate into a win every game, but we certainly feel like we have an opportunity to win every game. It's a fun deal. What expectations are on the outside (of the football team) ... I can tell you this: our football team sees itself as a good football team. They have high expectations and I have high expectations of them as well."

The expectations are higher for a few reasons, mainly because most of the players from a run in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs are back. The one questionable starter is offensive tackle Billy Turner, who underwent surgery Monday on a torn thumb ligament.

Bohl said it's "50-50" whether Turner, one of the team's best players, will play. Turner had a different thought on his Twitter account telling his followers "No way I'm missing that game."

Defensive tackle Justin Juckem is back at practice, but may be held out of the Lafayette game because he missed three weeks of practice with concussion.

Otherwise, like every other college team this week, the game week routine has started. For NDSU, it begins Sunday with a meeting with the captains.

"It was great to be in the playoffs but that was last year," Bohl said. "We're ready to take on new challenges and the guys better be ready to play. ... We're certainly more experienced than last year. We think they have some really good players and I think we have some really good players."

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found

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at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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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