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Mike Sherry Buzz column: GameDay visit latest attention for Bison

7:02 AM, Sep. 24, 2013  |  Comments
North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen (16) of Waupaca celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning touchdown against Kansas State on Aug. 30.
North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen (16) of Waupaca celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning touchdown against Kansas State on Aug. 30.
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Alabama and Oregon might be the top teams in the nation, but neither was the college football capital of the world on Saturday.

That honor was bestowed upon Fargo, N.D., where ESPN's "College GameDay" paid an unlikely visit to the North Dakota State campus.

And Colten Heagle, the Bisons' junior safety from Appleton, and Brock Jensen, a senior quarterback from Waupaca, were there for a front row seat to the mayhem.

"It was just a cool opportunity to have them feature our campus and our community," Heagle, a former Kimberly High School standout, said during a phone interview Monday. "Football is such a big deal around our community, and the GameDay people said they were excited to come see us and we were just as excited to see them."

The visit from Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and the gang was a well-earned reward for the Bison program, which is the two-time defending Football Championship Subdivision national champion and is a unanimous No. 1 in this week's FCS top 25 rankings.

Still, Heagle was a bit surprised when his brother told him that GameDay would be coming to his campus.

"My brother called and said, 'Did you know 'College GameDay' was coming to Fargo?' I didn't believe him," Heagle said. "But they decided to come because of our recent success and the tradition here."

Heagle said Fowler, the show's host, spoke to the team Friday. On Friday night, the team was able to visit the set and meet Corso, Desmond Howard and the rest of the crew.

"We got to take pictures and experience it up close," Heagle said. "It was a neat opportunity. A lot of people don't get to do that. We really cherish the opportunity."

The opportunity came, in part, because of North Dakota State's 24-21 victory at Kansas State in the season opener. The upset surprised a lot of people, but Heagle insists the Bison were confident they could win in Manhattan, Kan.

"We call it an opportunity game, not a payout game like some schools do," Heagle said. "We prepared that we were going to go out and play well. It's a great opportunity to play a great team. We don't take that stuff for granted."

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was so impressed with the Bison that he sent a letter to Jensen, who scored the winning touchdown on a one-yard run with 28 seconds remaining in the game.

The letter read:

"Congratulations Brock. I was truly impressed with you & your teammates. You played so very well, virtually error free & with such poise. I wish you a great year & hope you achieve all you desire. Please share my thoughts w/ your teammates.

Warm regards,

Bill Snyder

"It was a great gesture by Coach Snyder," said Heagle, who had seven solo tackles and two tackles for loss and was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference defensive player of the week after the win over the Wildcats.

"For him to do something like that showed the class him and his team had. In football, it's not always about winning and losing. They recognize that we're a good team and we played well that game and well enough to win"

The Kansas State game was especially big for Heagle, since it was his first game back after missing most of the 2012 season with a knee injury. He says the mental and physical adjustment to playing again took some time, but he's feeling good now.

"I had a really great summer in terms of the training stuff and the trainers pushing me to get ready," he said. "I was feeling great pretty much all summer. I really had no problems with it. I don't even notice it."

Heagle is second on the team in tackles this season with 18, including 12 solo stops.

In three games this season, Jensen has completed 72.6 percent of his passes (53-of-73) for 562 yards, with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He has also rushed for two touchdowns.

Buzz bits

? Scott Beyer has been hired as the head softball coach at UW-Oshkosh. Beyer comes to Oshkosh from UW-Green Bay, where he served as an assistant coach since 2011. Since 2006, Beyer has worked as the Director of Operations for Players Choice of the Fox Cities. Beyer replaces Cindy Suess, who resigned during the summer to become the head softball coach at Oshkosh North High School.

? The University of Wisconsin men's hockey team has been chosen as the preseason favorite for the inaugural season of Big Ten hockey as voted on by the league coaches. Minnesota was voted to finish second this season, with Michigan picked for third, Michigan State and Ohio State projected to tie for fourth and Penn State rounding out the poll.

? Richard Srnka, 56, of Appleton won gold medals in the 50 meters and 100 meters, and silver in the long jump and shot put in the track and field competition at the Wisconsin Senior Olympics in Milwaukee.

- Mike Sherry: 920-993-1000, ext. 289, or msherry@postcrescent.com; On Twitter @MikeSherry14

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