July 15, 2024

An Open Letter to the University of Arizona

NDSU fan holds up a sign during a Bison Football Game (Courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

Fans, students and faculty of the University of Arizona,

I am writing to you today amidst news that you have scheduled a football home game against the Bison of North Dakota State.  The North Dakota State Bison have a very good football team which plays incredibly physical and smart football which often grinds even the best of opponents to a halt. This game could very likely be a good test for your squad; however, we are here to suggest you take whatever measures necessary to make sure this game is never played in 2022.

Over the course of the last decade, many of us college football fans in America’s heartland have experienced an uncomfortable and sometimes tragic phenomenon known as North Dakota State football and their stampede of fans. Like refugees from a third world country to our north, they come in droves, on tractor trailers, in the back of pickup trucks, and through any other mode of transportation possible to get out of North Dakota.

These droves infiltrate our fine Midwestern college towns, eating our food and drinking in our establishments. They talk of their dynasty as though Nick Saban was their coach, and they boast as though their Bison (Bizon?) are truly one of the elites in the sport. To make matters worse, their team usually does the talking, and leave us to pick up the pieces after. Do you really want to see what this pack of North Dakotans will do in the hot sun of Arizona?

Fans (and cargo shorts) line Kite’s bar in Manhattan, KS prior to their game vs Kansas State, August 30th, 2013. GoEMAW.com

Schools in the Midwest have wizened up and declined requests to schedule the Bison, and now North Dakota State is trying to pull a fast one on many fine schools in the Pac 12 Conference. Apparently they think you folks on the West Coast are a bit behind, still sipping your morning coffee and glancing over the past history of the Bison and their faithful. Luckily, we are here to tip you off before it is too late.

Below are a few experiences from some fans who’ve witnessed the tragedies which occur when North Dakota State visits their town and plays their teams:


North Dakota State beats Kansas 9-6 in Lawrence, Sept. 4, 2010. (Courtesy of KUsports.com) KUSports.com

The North Dakota State Bison began the Turner Gill era of Kansas Football with a low scoring, yet surprising win over Kansas, just three years removed from the Jayhawks’ 2008 Orange Bowl Victory.

For Kansas fan Ben Wiseman, he has an all-too-familiar warning to Arizona fans:

Dear Arizona Wildcat fans,

Consider this an official warning:  North Dakota State is coming to town, and they mean business.  Since 2010, the Bison have won six consecutive road games versus FBS competition.  I was in the stands on September 4th, 2010 when it all got started, as North Dakota State rolled into Lawrence and upset Kansas, 6-3, in Turner Gill’s opening debut as KU’s head football coach.  The trend has continued since then, as Minnesota, Colorado State, K-State, Iowa State, and Iowa have all experienced home losses against the Bison in recent years.

While losing to an FCS opponent is nothing short of embarrassing, it’s also costly.  Since 2010, the Bison have cashed in on $2.175 million in guaranteed payouts from their FBS hosts.  Last year, Iowa paid North Dakota State $500,000 to come into Kinnick Stadium and leave with a “W.”  With five consecutive FCS championships from 2011 to 2015, and a combined record of 83-7, it’s puzzling why any FBS program would continue to pay North Dakota State to play them at home.  As Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz points out, “They have a lot of good players.   They just don’t have 85 of them.  Their top 40, I would say, probably is as good as anybody’s.”  The Bison are more than a well-coached team that plays fundamentally sound football.  They’re talented, as evidenced by their tremendous on-field success, as well as the recent abundance of NFL draft picks, including Eagles’ starting QB Carson Wentz.

Of course, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that by 2022, North Dakota State has found its way to the FBS level in a conference like the Mid-American or Mountain West.  However, until then, it’s simply a bad investment to continue to schedule the Bison at home.  Buyers, beware.

From this moment forward, the Bizon have been a ginormous thorn in the side of Midwestern Football.


North Dakota State beats Minnesota 37-24 at TCF Bank Stadium, September 24, 2011. (Courtesy of NDSU Athletics) NDSU Athletics

The joke around Minneapolis is that one of these days the Gophers will finally rise up and upset one of the Dakota schools, after countless losses vs the Bison and their other Dakota counterparts at UND, SDSU and USD. That doesn’t take away any pain instilled in Gopher fans from their loss to the Bison. Many fans of the Bison call the Twin Cities home, and losing on their home turf to the Bison is no easy pill to swallow.

Kansas State

NDSU shocks the college football world with a 24-21 win over defending Big 12 Champion Kansas State in 2013. (Courtesy of CBS Sports) CBS Sports

The Kansas State Wildcats won the Big 12 Conference in 2012, including a brief stint as the #1 team in America (in FBS). The Wildcats opened the 2013 season (and a newly renovated Bill Snyder Family Stadium) with the Bison to show some new hardware, and to get a win against another FCS opponent. Little did Kansas State know what they had in store.

On a popular Kansas State message board, many Bison fans began lurking and posting into the world of Wildcat athletics months in advance of their matchup in Manhattan. As they made their presence known, predictions of a win over the Cats came often, and fans retaliated with threats titled “Bill Snyder Family Blowouts,” and the Bison made these thread titles obsolete quite quickly. Don’t embarrass your internet tough guys like this.

Iowa State

NDSU celebrates a 34-14 beatdown of Iowa State in front of a crowd filing out of Jack Trice Stadium (Courtesy of the Star Tribune) Star Tribune

Iowa State came off of the 2013 season with a 3-9 record and little excitement about 2014. The Cyclones and their fans knew the Bison would be an incredibly tough opponent to begin the year. A 34-14 bludgeoning by the Bison sent a stark reminder to the Cyclones that the season ahead would be a rocky one.

For Cyclone fan and Tailgate Society contributor Jared Leeper, the game was all too painful:

I’ll never forget their enormous section of gold in the southwest corner. Their fans were so mouthy before the game, and they knew they were going to win. It one of of the worst ISU games I’ve ever sat through. The game marked losing to an FCS school back to back years, and sadly it’s been 3 out of 4 years now. We aren’t going to compete for a CFB Playoff spot, so I wish Iowa State would schedule in a way to just get to a bowl game the easiest way. The opening game sells out regardless, everyone is excited to be back and has hope, and then we had it crushed in three hours after losing to them.


Bison fans celebrate in Ames USA Today

The loss marked the beginning of a rough season for Iowa State, and the number of fans and their loud, boisterous yells of “Let’s Go Bizon” only made matters worse on that warm early fall day in Ames.


NDSU players and fans celebrate a last second field goal to stun Iowa (Courtesy of the Quad City Times) Quad City Times

North Dakota State’s most recent victory came against the Iowa Hawkeyes, coming off of their B1G West Championship and appearance in the Rose Bowl. Despite bludgeoning Iowa State 42-3 the previous week, the Bison beat the Hawkeyes at their own game on a last second field goal 23-21. Many Hawkeye fans, including our Tailgate Society contributor, AJ Speck, he made many loud and boisterous predictions before the game, predicting a huge Iowa victory. Nothing but sheer anger followed as the Bison handed the Hawkeyes their first FCS loss in school history.

It’s not too late!

Gannett Media

I hope you’re not too late, Arizona. From all of your FBS friends in the upper midwest, we hope you can find a way to rescind your invitation to the Bison in 2022. As you have now been warned, the Bison are capable of beating many FBS teams in some of the most humbling ways possible. Their fans will never let you hear the end of it, and I hate to say it, we’ll probably have to say “I told you so” as well. At the end of the day, none of us want to see what the Arizona sun can do to thousands of Bison fans who make the trek, win or lose.

Yours, with love

Disgruntled fans of Kansas, Minnesota, Kansas State, Iowa State and Iowa.

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Travis Halm
Travis Halm 43 Articles
Staff Writer

Travis Halm is an Iowa State Alum living in Omaha, Nebraska. A native of Haverhill, Iowa, Travis has lived throughout the Midwest and in Texas, providing him insight on the Big 12, the SEC, and a wide variety of other sports topics. Travis follows the Cyclones closely, in addition to the Cardinals, Packers, Texas A&M and rarely turns down a ticket to a good sporting event.

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