FARGO, N.D. -- No. 1-ranked North Dakota State rolled up 663 yards of total offense and completed an undefeated regular season with a 65-17 thrashing of Southern Illinois on Saturday, Nov. 17, the most points and yards by NDSU in a Missouri Valley Football Conference game since joining the league in 2008.
North Dakota State (11-0) became just the third team to go unbeaten in an eight-game MVFC schedule, joining the 2013 Bison and the 2009 Southern Illinois teams. NDSU will be a top-eight seed for the FCS playoffs and await a Dec. 1 game against a second-round opponent to be determined.
A crowd of 18,008 was on hand at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome to witness the final regular-season home game for 24 Bison seniors, the largest outgoing class in NDSU football history.
Southern Illinois put a damper on the celebration when JeQuan Burton took the game's opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, but the Bison answered quickly.
Darrius Shepherd hauled in a 32-yard pass from Easton Stick on NDSU's first offensive play, and Ty Brooks scored from 36 yards out to cap a four-play scoring drive that knotted the game at 7-7. Brooks had his third career 100-yard game with 113 yards on nine carries.
Stick connected with Christian Watson for 48 yards on the first play of NDSU's second drive, and Stick's 1-yard TD run two plays later put the Bison ahead 14-7.
After a three-and-out on its first drive, Southern Illinois went 75 yards in four plays capped by a 59-yard passing TD from Matt DeSomer to Raphael Leonard to tie the game 14-14 less than 6 1/2 minutes into the game.
NDSU scored touchdowns on its first four possessions running a total of 12 offensive plays. Stick found tight end Nate Jenson wide open down the left sideline for a 60-yard touchdown and tight end Ben Ellefson caught a 22-yard TD to make it 28-14 with still 6:21 left in the first quarter.
Shepherd's 31-yard TD catch early in the second quarter extended NDSU's lead to 35-14, which held until halftime.
Bison running back Bruce Anderson scored on runs of 18 and 30 yards in the third quarter, Saybein Clark scored his first career touchdown on a 19-yard run in the fourth, and Adam Cofield scored from 20 yards out to cap the scoring.
NDSU safety Robbie Grimsley made his 15th and 16th career interceptions, moving into a tie for second in NDSU history behind Marcus Williams (21 from 2010-13). Michael Tutsie also had an interception for the Bison.
Derrek Tuszka and Dan Marlette each made seven tackles to lead the North Dakota State defense and Tuszka finished with 2.0 tackles for loss and a sack assist.
The 24-team bracket for the NCAA Division I football championship will be announced in a selection show on ESPNU beginning at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 18. The Bison will be making their ninth straight appearance in the FCS playoffs.