You think North Dakota produces practically nothing but wheat and weather, and that most of the latter is bad? Or that the last good big runner in the state was an Ice Age mastodon? Then, you've not been reading the fine print in your sports section.
Admittedly, even Dakotans concede they once tended to share these feelings. North Dakota boys were bigger than the average, maybe, but there were just too few of them to build a football power. Then, on Sept. 25 1965, North Dakota State won its eighth consecutive game, and on Sept. 29 AP ranked the Bison first among the nation's small colleges. Even the players didn't believe it. Said NSDU President Dr. H. R. Albrecht, "It scares me to death."
There was only one thing for the country boys to do under the unaccustomed pressure: collapse. Instead, they went undefeated and won their first outright conference championship in 30 years. Last season they won eight more games, including ones against Montana State and North Dakota, before finally losing to San Diego State.
Feverish to keep this giddy notoriety, North Dakota State is encouraged by its best backfield yet. Halfback Ken Rota has been on Little All-America listings since his sophomore year. He scored 16 touchdowns that season and, despite being injured, eight in 1966. Quarterback Terry Hanson—a sprint-out type running a slot-I offense—threw 14 touchdown passes last season.
Aside from the front four, the defense is mature and dependable, featuring Dave Olson and Jim Ferge, who rejoin Mike Ahneman, an excellent field-goal kicker, at linebacker. Mike Berdis, a 285-pound tackle from Joliet, Ill., will help the weakened front wall—enormously.
"Now people are planning their vacations around our games," Athletic Director Richard Koppenhave: exults. "Before, they couldn't plan a satisfactory Saturday night."