FARGO - It won't be a bird, a plane or Superman.
The drones you'll see flying over the tailgating lot west of the Fargodome on Saturday prior to the South Dakota State at North Dakota State football game will actually have a government purpose. The North Dakota Department of Transportation and the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft System Test Site will be flying the machines in a data-gathering mission.
The hope is to help the Federal Aviation Administration create new regulations to enable "the safe and secure integration of UASs into the national airspace systems," according to a release from the Department of Transportation.
"North Dakota is unique in that we were able to come together with one voice to help lead the nation in drone integration," said North Dakota Ltd Gov. Brent Sanford, who chairs the Northern Plains UAS Authority. "This collaboration allows us to develop policy that will one day serve as a blueprint for the rest of the country."
The UAS team will have an information booth in Thundar Alley at the tailgating lot.
New rule could affect Wilson
Saturday's game will mark the fourth straight game Bison running back Seth Wilson will sit out because of a hamstring injury. It's getting close to the point where the Bison coaches may start asking the question: At what point does the new NCAA four-game rule come into play?
Players who haven't redshirted are allowed to play four games without losing a year of eligibiity. Wilson played as a true freshman last season.
"Potentially," head coach Chris Klieman said of taking the new rule under consideration. "It could be based on where he's at the next two weeks."
The fact NDSU has two senior running backs in Bruce Anderson and Lance Dunn could also play into the equation. Junior Ty Brooks is also a game-breaker and has the second-most carries on the team after three games.
Wilson was forced into action last season because of injuries decimating the backfield. So far, that hasn't happened this season.
Around the Valley
Say what you want about the NDSU and SDSU game being big, five other Missouri Valley Football Conference teams face big tests in another regard: to keep pace with their playoff potential.
Northern Iowa, South Dakota, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois and Youngstown State were all 1-2 heading into this week.
Three losses before October rolls around makes it for a tough road to reach the Division I FCS playoffs. Two matchups pit 1-2 teams against each other: South Dakota is at Southern Illinois and Youngstown travels to Western Illinois.
"I approach every week like that," Youngstown head coach Bo Pelini, said of a do-or-die scenario. "The next opponent is Western and can't control anything beyond that. Like I told our team, we have to be more efficient and make people beat us."
• Southern Illinois has had no trouble scoring, putting up over 40 points in the first three games. That includes 44 against FBS Ole Miss, but the problem was the Rebels scored 76. The Salukis had a major setback two weeks ago in a 48-44 loss to Southeast Missouri State. It won't help, either, that a young defense with no seniors also lost junior linebacker Cody Crider.
"You gotta pick up and you have to keep going," said SIU head coach Nick Hill. "Football, the unfortunate part of it is injuries, but you have to get ready to go because the next team I guarantee doesn't care what your injury report looks like."