Redskins

NDSU, SDSU meet in football playoffs for 1st time

NDSU, SDSU meet in football playoffs for 1st time

FARGO, N.D. (AP) There were some at North Dakota State and South Dakota State who weren't thrilled with the idea of moving from Division II to Division I, a decision that cost both teams games against their in-state rivals.

Seven years later, both schools are enjoying success on the football field. SDSU, in fact, is faring better than it did in Division II. And after playing each other 99 times over the years, the Bison and Jackrabbits will square off in the playoffs for the first time.

``I think both schools had a lot of naysayers,'' NDSU coach Craig Bohl said of the colleges moving up to Division I. ``We linked arms several years ago and took a long-term approach. We didn't do it the quick way and take a bunch of transfers. We developed players.''

The Bison had a proud history in Division II, winning nine national titles, including six after a playoff system was instituted. Most expected them to make their mark quickly in Division I, and they did. Last season's FCS Subdivision championship came in NDSU's fourth year of D-I eligibility.

The Jackrabbits qualified for the postseason just once in 31 years of the Division II playoffs, losing in the first round in 1979. They've made the playoffs twice and coach John Stiegelmeier's program has now posted winning records in seven of its nine seasons in the FCS.

The move cost both teams their longtime rivals, when the University of South Dakota and University of North Dakota opted to stay in Division II. Asked if SDSU boosters thought the jump to Division I was a good move, Stiegelmeier conceded there were mixed feelings.

``There was no reference point,'' Stiegelmeier said. ``I don't know if we were naive to some of the stuff, including all the benefits. It took a little while, but I would say the state is 100 percent behind what we've done so far.''

The two schools have sweetened the pot with an award for the winner of the football matchup. The Dakota Marker, a replica of the quartzite monuments that used to mark the border between North and South Dakota, has turned out to be a tough trophy. NDSU has won it five times, SDSU on four occasions.

Justin Sell, the SDSU athletic director, calls it one of the ``coolest rivalries'' he's been a part of because the schools have many similarities.

``We are partners. And when we're not playing, we're good friends,'' Sell said.

The playoff game Saturday comes three weeks after NDSU held off visiting SDSU 20-17 in a game that ultimately decided the Missouri Valley Football League championship. While the Bison were enjoying a bye last week in the first round of the playoffs, SDSU opened the postseason by whipping Eastern Illinois 58-10.

``Everyone says it's tough to beat a team twice,'' said NDSU offensive lineman Billy Taylor. ``To play a team twice in the same year, especially within three weeks, is crazy, but hopefully it's a challenge we'll be able to overcome.''

Most believe the matchup boils down to NDSU's defense on SDSU running back Zach Zenner. NDSU leads the FCS in total defense (196 yards allowed per game), passing defense (129), rushing defense (67), and scoring defense (11.82 points per game).

Zenner leads the FCS in rushing with an average of more than 166 yards per outing.

``It starts with their running game and it starts with Zenner,'' Bison linebacker Grant Olson said. ``So if we can shut that down, that will give us the best chance to win.''

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Amidst Jags controversy, Landon Collins goes full Suge Knight to recruit Jalen Ramsey to Redskins

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USA Today Sports Images

Amidst Jags controversy, Landon Collins goes full Suge Knight to recruit Jalen Ramsey to Redskins

Even during this relatively quiet period of the NFL calendar, there's still plenty of controversy around the league.

Take Jacksonville for example, where Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been firing back at executive vice president Tom Coughlin for saying he wants every player to attend the team's voluntary offseason workouts. Ramsey, as you may have already guessed, has elected to skip these workouts. 

Seeing an opportunity, new Redskins safety Landon Collins invited Ramsey to Washington via Twitter, going into full Suge Knight "Come to Death Row" mode to make his pitch. 

Ramsey seemed quite amused by the prospect, but also didn't seem totally opposed to the idea of teaming up with Collins in D.C. 

While it's unlikely Washington trades for Ramsey, nothing's stopping you from firing up the NFL Roster Builder and putting the two-time Pro Bowler in burgundy and gold, Redskins fans! 

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John Carlson's autograph the finishing touch to a Capitals fan's tattoo sleeve

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Leah Carey/Twitter

John Carlson's autograph the finishing touch to a Capitals fan's tattoo sleeve

It's been a long time in the making, but a local Washington fan finally put the finishing touches on his Capitals-themed tattoo sleeve on Thursday.

Maryland-based fan Leah Carey posted a picture of her father's tattooed arm on Twitter, showing off the finished product.

John Carlson is credited with the final assist, as his signature was the last thing Carey's father needed to complete the tattoo collection. He finally got the signaure when Carlson took the time to autograph his arm after a recent practice. Carey then got it tattooed the following day.

In addition to Carlson's autograph, the sleeve includes various Caps' logos over the years, including their Stanley Cup championship crest.

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