Bison, North Carolina A&T Meet For First Time in 33rd Annual Trees Bowl Game

THIS WEEK: No. 1-ranked North Dakota State (1-0) hosts North Carolina A&T (0-1) of the Big South Conference this Saturday, Sept. 10, in the 33rd annual Trees Bowl game sponsored by the North Dakota Forest Service. Game time is 2:30 p.m. at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome (18,700).
 
TICKETS: Tickets for NDSU home games are available online at GoBison.com/tickets or by calling the Bison Ticket Office in the south lobby of the Sanford Health Athletic Complex at (701) 231-6378 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Game day ticket sales at the Fargodome begin 5 hours prior to kickoff.
 
TELEVISION: The statewide ABC network of WDAY (Fargo), WDAZ (Grand Forks), KBMY (Bismarck/Dickinson) and KMCY (Minot/Williston) will have live coverage beginning at 2:20 p.m. with Dom Izzo (play-by-play), Kyle Emanuel (analyst) and Logan Campbell (sideline). The broadcast will also be available to ESPN+ subscribers on ESPN.com and the ESPN app.
 
RADIO: Statewide coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. on the Pioneer Seeds Bison Radio Network including Bison 1660 and 107.9 The Fox in Fargo with Rob Hipp (play-by-play), Phil Hansen (analyst) and Cole Jirik (sideline). The network broadcast includes 1-hour pregame and 30-minute postgame shows. Streaming is available on GoBison.com/allaccess and the NDSU Athletics mobile app.
 
THE SERIES: This is the first meeting between North Dakota State and North Carolina A&T. The Bison are 3-0 against Big South Conference teams with a win over Charleston Southern in the 2016 FCS Kickoff game and two wins over Coastal Carolina in the 2013 and 2014 NCAA quarterfinals.
 
TREES BOWL HISTORY: North Dakota State has a 28-3 record in the Trees Bowl and the Bison have won 13 straight including a 44-2 victory over Indiana State last October. The Trees Bowl game sponsored by the North Dakota Forest Service has been played annually since 1990, except for a cancellation of the 2001 game because of the 9/11 attacks.
 
SPECIAL TEAMS SPARK BISON: Touchdowns on a blocked field goal and punt return sparked North Dakota State to a 56-14 win over Drake in the season opener last week. Destin Talbert scored from 56 yards after Jake Kava‘s blocked field goal, and Jayden Price scored on a 66-yard punt return after the ensuing Drake possession to give the Bison a 21-7 lead. The Bison also got their first defensive touchdown since 2018 on Will Mostaert‘s 5-yard fumble return after Dawson Weber‘s strip sack.
 
PRICE MOVES INTO SECOND: Cornerback Jayden Price moved into a tie for second place all-time at NDSU with his third career punt return touchdown in the win over Drake. Price is tied with Ryan Smith (2010-13) and Keith Krebsbach (1972-73) behind Richard Lewis, who had four punt return TDs over the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Price is the active FCS leader with a career punt return average of 15.85, which ranks second in school history behind Travis White‘s 16.0 average from 2002 to 2006.
 
BIG PLAY BUSSEY: After going over 100 career total offense attempts last week against Drake, Jalen Bussey currently ranks first in NDSU history averaging 8.75 yards per play. Bussey had touchdown runs last year of 61 yards against Youngstown State and a career-long 72 yards against Valparaiso. He also has a 50-yard kickoff return to his credit.
 
FIRST CAREER SCORES: Eight different players scored touchdowns last week for North Dakota State, including four players each notching their first career TDs. In addition to Destin Talbert on a blocked field goal and Will Mostaert on a fumble recovery, NDSU wide receiver Zach Mathis scored his first TD on a 31-yard passing play from Cam Miller in the first quarter and running back Barika Kpeenu got his first TD on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter.
 
MAUCH AWARDED: Left tackle Cody Mauch was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week for the first time in his career after playing 33 snaps against Drake with no sacks, quarterback pressures or tackles for loss allowed. Mauch graded out with 12 plus-physical plays and helped the Bison rush for 274 yards and 7.4 yards per carry in the win.
 
BISON PICKED TO WIN: North Dakota State received 39 of 41 first-place votes to claim the top spot in a preseason poll of the Missouri Valley Football Conference head coaches, media and sports information directors. South Dakota State had the remaining two votes in second place followed by Missouri State third, Southern Illinois fourth, Northern Iowa fifth, South Dakota sixth and North Dakota seventh. Illinois State, Youngstown State, Indiana State and Western Illinois rounded out the poll in order eighth through 11th.
 
PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE: Twelve NDSU players were named to the Preseason All-MVFC Team including four on the first team: fullback Hunter Luepke, left tackle Cody Mauch, defensive tackle Eli Mostaert and safety Michael Tutsie. NDSU’s eight preseason second-team honorees were running back Kobe Johnson, tight end Noah Gindorff, left guard Nash Jensen, defensive end Spencer Waege, linebacker James Kaczor, cornerback Destin Talbert, safety Dawson Weber and return specialist Jayden Price.
 
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: North Dakota State had nine players named to preseason All-America teams. Fullback Hunter Luepke, tight end Noah Gindorff, left tackle Cody Mauch and safety Michael Tutsie, left guard Nash Jensen and defensive tackle Eli Mostaert were recognized by HERO Sports. Luepke, Mauch, Tutsie, defensive end Spencer Waege, linebacker James Kaczor and punt returner Jayden Price were recognized by Stats Perform.
 
SENIOR BOWL WATCH LIST: North Dakota State fullback Hunter Luepke, tight end Noah Gindorff and left tackle Cody Mauch were among the NFL prospects on the preseason watch list for the Reese’s Senior Bowl, widely regarded as the top college football all-star game. The Bison have had 11 players selected including wide receiver Christian Watson last year.
 
AWARD WATCH LISTS: Fullback Hunter Luepke was named to the preseason watch list for the Walter Payton Award presented to the FCS Offensive Player of the Year, and defensive end Spencer Waege, linebacker James Kaczor and safety Michael Tutsie were named to the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award presented to the FCS Defensive Player of the Year. Additionally, NDSU’s Kaedin Steindorf was named to the FCS Punter of the Year watch list.
 
BISON AT HOME: The Bison have a 177-27 record in the Fargodome, 31-5 at home against FCS Top 10 ranked teams, and winners of 75 of the last 77 home games over non-conference opponents. North Dakota State has a 31-1 record in the Fargodome during the NCAA playoffs since 2010 with the only loss coming to eventual national champion James Madison in the 2016 semifinals. NDSU’s 32-game home winning streak in the Fargodome from September 2017 through April 2021 was the fourth longest in NCAA FCS history.
 
ON THE ROAD: North Dakota State has a 47-6 record in true road games since 2011, and that record is 58-6 including 11 neutral site games over the same span. NDSU’s 2-2 road record in the spring season of 2020-21 was the first time since 2010 the Bison have lost multiple road games.
 
BISON RETURNING TO TWIN CITIES: North Dakota State will host Eastern Washington on the opening weekend of the 2023 season at U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings. NDSU drew a crowd of 34,544 fans to the 2019 season opener against Butler at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.
 
#PROBISON: North Dakota State had 16 former players with NFL clubs this preseason. The list includes Broncos OL Billy Turner (9th year), Commanders QB Carson Wentz (7th), Steelers OL Joe Haeg (7th), Lions LB Chris Board (5th), Chargers QB Easton Stick (4th), Broncos WR Darrius Shepherd (4th), Vikings TE Ben Ellefson (3rd), Steelers LB Derrek Tuszka (3rd), Broncos OL Zack Johnson (3rd), 49ers QB Trey Lance (2nd), Titans OL Dillon Radunz (2nd), Cowboys LB Jabril Cox (2nd), Packers WR Christian Watson (1st), Bengals OL Cordell Volson (1st), Panthers TE Josh Babicz (1st) and Rams LB Brayden Thomas (1st).
 
FIRST FBS GAME IN SIX YEARS: North Dakota State’s game at Arizona on Sept. 17 will be six years to the day from NDSU’s last FBS game in 2016 at Iowa. North Dakota State is 9-3 against FBS opponents and has won six in a row since 2010 with wins at Kansas (6-3), Minnesota (37-24), Colorado State (22-7), Kansas State (24-21), Iowa State (34-14) and 11th-ranked Iowa (23-21). NDSU’s first three FBS wins were against Ball State (2006), Central Michigan (2007) and Minnesota (2007). North Dakota State has future FBS games against Colorado (2024) and Oregon (2028).
 

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