Alex Ross walked into the North Dakota State press conference room downstairs in the Fargodome with his teammates with a look of defeat. It was a look all-too-often seen after teams come into the Dome to face NDSU. That was a year ago when Coastal Carolina made its first trip to Fargo in a FCS quarterfinal game.
But what I remember more than the butt-whooping the Bison put on was what Ross said afterward.
The sophomore quarterback said he didn’t think the noise was a factor, and he thought Montana was louder.
I called bull.
Never piss off BisoNation, Alex. They will search you on Twitter and cyber troll you. Then they will heckle you on game day.
And it just so happens Ross and the Chanticleers are returning to the Fargodome for another quarterfinal game Saturday.
While Ross was probably just speaking his mind last year and didn’t think anything of his comments, it seems many teams downplay the noise in the Fargodome. Maybe it’s a pride thing. Maybe they’re just sick of hearing about it all week.
But saying the Fargodome noise didn’t affect the outcome of the game is like saying slippery roads after a snowstorm isn’t the reason you slid into the ditch.
Even for a team like South Dakota State and its players that have played in the Dome several times, noise changes games. The Jackrabbits had Bison fans chewing their nails, covering their mouths or dribbling urine down their legs in the second round game last Saturday.
SDSU was right there with the Bison in what would have been an upset for the ages. But NDSU pulled through in the fourth quarter.
And the noise helped.
The Fargodome announced a crowd of 18,113 for the game. But it looked like a lot more. People were hanging from rafters, students were sitting in the aisles in their over-packed sections and babies were wearing earmuffs. It was the best crowd since Georgia Southern in 2012.
If this game is played outdoors in front of 10,000 fans in fair-weathered conditions, I don’t know if NDSU wins that game. The Dome realistically gives the Bison a touchdown advantage.
No matter how much experience you have playing in the Fargodome, you can’t make the checks and audible calls like you are used to. And with constant, ear-splitting noise coming down on you, you may make uncharacteristic mistakes.
Down by three with 54 seconds left, SDSU quarterback Austin Sumner had every single Bison fan in the Fargodome yelling in his direction. On the first play of the drive, Sumner looked left and then quickly snapped his head to the right. He threw the ball right to defensive back Tre Dempsey, who was sitting in his zone the whole way on an out pattern.
That was Sumner’s first interception in four and a half games.
Now, Ross gets to face the noise again. He’ll hear about it all week from coaches and field questions regarding it from media. He’ll walk into the Fargodome as The Big South Offensive Player of the Year. He’ll try to make calls for CCU’s no-huddle offense and likely lose his voice doing so.
He’ll try and play relaxed, nonchalant and brush off the Bison fans bearing down on him — all while having Kyle Emanuel, who Chanticleers head coach Joe Moglia called Superman, rushing his blindside.
After the game, win or lose, Ross will probably get asked how handling the noise went. He’ll probably say fine, and it wasn’t a factor.
And I’ll call bull again.