NCAA FOOTBALL: Gimmestad, Bison seeking history

FRISCO, Texas – Marshall High School graduate Tyler Gimmestad and the North Dakota State Bison have a chance to make college football history.

At 1 p.m. today, NDSU (14-0 overall) will play Towson (13-2) for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. A Bison victory would give North Dakota State its third consecutive national championship, tying Appalachian State, which won three straight titles from 2005 to 2007.

“This is a great feeling to see how far we have come since being freshmen,” Gimmestad said. “It’s gratifying to know that our hard work has paid off with another opportunity to win a national championship.”

No FCS team has ever won four consecutive national championships.

Georgia Southern, which has won six national titles overall, did so three times in back-to-back style (1985-86, 1989-90, 1999-2000). Youngstown State won four national championships in the 1990s – 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1997.

Gimmestad, a senior, expressed happiness for choosing to become a Bison four years ago.

“I think that I have done pretty well here at NDSU,” Gimmestad said. “I was a defensive lineman here my first two years before switching to the offensive line. I found a place on this team that has worked best for me. My position coach (Bison offensive line coach Scott Fuchs) has done a great job developing me into the best that I could be.”

Gimmestad, a 6-foot-2, 304-pounder, has given North Dakota State a physical presence on its offensive line. With him at right guard, North Dakota State has averaged 465.5 yards of total offense, possessed the ball for an average of 34 minutes, 12 seconds per game, converted 56 percent (105 of 187) on its third downs and has been successful 71 percent (12 of 17) of the time on fourth down this season.

“It wasn’t a huge change to go from one side of the ball to the other. I played on both lines in high school,” Gimmestad said. “Coach Fuchs met with me early-on so that I could get the plays down. Having veteran players surrounding me has definitely made this an easy transition.”

His teammates on the offensive line include starters Billy Turner, Zach Johnson, Josh Colville and Joe Haeg.

One part of the transition for Gimmestad was to learn the footwork necessary to place himself into proper position on the field.

As an offensive lineman, Gimmestad have been very reliable. He has started 27 of the Bison’s 29 games the last two seasons as NDSU has scored 1,041 points for an average of 35.9 points per game.

“One of the differences of playing college football is the way we prepare for games,” Gimmestad said. “We have video on all of our opponents and we can see the things opposing defenses are giving away. That helps us for a prepare a better game plan.”

Primarily a run-first team, North Dakota State features two rushers with more than 1,000 yards. Sam Ojuri leads the Bison with 1,314 yards and nine touchdowns on 199 carries, while John Crockett adds 1,191 yards and 10 TDs on 181 carries.

“We feel like, if we can run the ball effectively, it will set up our play-action passes,” Gimmestad said.

NDSU quarterback Brock Jenson has completed 205 of 311 passes for 2,658 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Jenson’s top receivers are Zach Vraa (64 catches, 1,140 yards, 14 TDs) and Ryan Smith (51 catches, 670 yards, five TDs).

The game will be televised on ESPN2.