If there is one thing BisoNation is, it’s spoiled. I guess that comes with winning five championships in a row. But that is no excuse for what happened last weekend in the student section, one of my biggest pet peeves. When the attendance figures were announced in the press box, 18,828, I had to laugh.
There may have been that many people entering the Fargodome, but there were not that many still in the stands. Absolutely no way, because half the student section was gone. Like some sort of magic act, they had vanished without a trace.
And then the Bison lost, to South Dakota State, our rivals.
Perhaps the most special thing about the Fargodome is that the energy inside is palpable. You can reach out with a fork and feed off it. This is nothing new, but Saturday was different.
After South Dakota State’s first touchdown to make it a seven-point game, there was nothing. The energy was all gone, nothing to be felt. These are the moments that need a spark.
The two ingredients for said spark, a big play and a rowdy student section. One of those things needs to come on the field of play. I was worried it was not going to come. The guy that produced the biggest sparks last year, Bruce Anderson, was out with a sprained ankle.
If you want the purest example of a spark in the Fargodome, look what Anderson did last year against UNI in the playoffs.
Trailing at the half, I remember saying to one of my friends, “Boy, this place is dead. We really need something big to happen soon.” First play of the half, Bruce returns the kickoff, and the place exploded.
Saturday had that big play. It came in the form of Darrius Shepherd turning on the jets for a 44-yard reception. It brought with it one of the loudest cheers of the day, but the fire didn’t keep burning. The drive stalled at the SDSU 37, and not even an excellent Jackson Koonce punt got the crowd going.
And when it really mattered, with 2:27 left, there was not much from the students. SDSU was unfazed, drove down the field and scored. A lot of students missed it.
So my question for the students who left is simple: why? Why would you leave with a good portion of the ball game left? You can’t say the Bison were dominating the game, because they weren’t. Yes, it was a two score game after the first drive of the second half, but was that enough reason. Had you totally missed the first two drives for the Jackrabbits as they marched the length of the field? Or was it because you had seen two red zone stops already and expected more to come?
Was it because the Bison dominate the fourth quarter always? Or that the Jackrabbits would surely become tired? Because it was just a regular season game with nothing at stake? Or, most likely, because you wanted to start the after-parties and celebrations early?
There was nothing boring about the game. It was not the second half of the Illinois State game (the only game where I wanted to leave early, but stayed none-the-less.) To make it matter more, it was a rivalry game, with a trophy at stake.
And yet, you still left.
Maybe us, as fans, needed this. A loss to remind us that every win is special. A loss that shows that on any given day, anything can happen. There is no doubt the team is going to dig in now and look for redemption.
How about us as fans? Are we ready to prove once again that the Fargodome is the toughest place to play? Not just in FCS, but the nation as well.