Ranking NDSU after a loss would get interesting

CRAIG HALEY (STATS FCS Senior Editor=)
The Associated Press

(STATS) - Top-ranked North Dakota State is in the midst of four straight games in which it may face a nationally ranked opponent - a difficult run even for the FCS dynasty.

Losses, of course, have been infrequent since 2011. The Bison are 115-8 and have won seven national titles during one of the greatest runs in college football history.

Should the Bison lose during the regular season, it will be interesting to see how voters react to it. Usually any type of Bison fall in the STATS FCS Top 25 has gone too far.

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The Bison have moved down at least three spots six times following seven regular-season losses, including from No. 1 to 5 after a late-season loss in 2011 and from 2 to 8 - yikes - after a midseason loss in 2015. In both seasons, plus in 2012, 2014 and 2017 after regular-season losses, the Bison have come back to win the national title. Their only drop below three spots was from 1 to 2 following a season-opening loss in 2015, and the 2016 team moved up from 4 to 3 following a loss to eventual national champion James Madison in the semifinals.

The 2013 and '18 teams made it easy, never losing a game and going wire-to-wire as the No. 1-ranked team.

This season, NDSU is 3-0, coming off a 47-22 rout of nationally ranked Delaware - the Bison's Division I-leading 24th straight win. The offense is basically rushing the ball and scoring at will, and heading into Saturday's home game against No. 4 UC Davis, which features preseason first-team All-America quarterback Jake Maier, the defense hasn't allowed much outside garbage time (only No. 2 James Madison and No. 3 South Dakota State stand between NDSU and UC Davis in the rankings).

While the Bison have proven drops in the rankings wrong in the past, this was supposed to be the season for a potential step backward. They returned only seven starters and have a first-year head coach, Matt Entz.

Given NDSU has proven doubters wrong basically every time, voters won't have it easy if faced with ranking the Bison after a loss.

Maybe it won't happen.

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