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Why It Won't Happen

by Dan Gunderson

Each week, the website The Sports Network posts a Football Championship Subdivision playoff prediction bracket. This week’s bracket, put together by Craig Haley, the FCS Executive Director for the site, features an opening round game between the University of Northern Iowa and Montana State University.

According the projection, the winner of that game would play North Dakota State University in the next round. We all are aware of what happened back in February of this year when Montana State decided at the 11th hour to back out of their game with NDSU in Fargo that was scheduled for September 7.

When I saw this projection, my mind started racing about the possibilities of the Bobcats actually being forced to come to Fargo. I then realized that, in fact it wouldn’t happen. Why? I will let the future game description of the UNI/MSU playoff game explain why.

BOZEMAN, MT (AP) – The University of Northern Iowa walked out of Bobcat Stadium on Saturday, November 30 with one of the oddest 17-16 victories in the history of football.

It wasn’t the score that had the Panthers and fans of the Montana State University football program scratching their heads but more so the way it came about.

With :36 seconds to go, the Bobcats had the ball at the UNI 37 with one timeout to go and just in need of a field goal to come away victorious. Instead of trying their best to get into field goal range, the Bobcats elected to take a knee, giving UNI the victory.

When asked about the decision in the post-game press conference, MSU head coach Rob Ash said it was a choice he made back in February.

“I told (Athletic Director) Peter Fields back in February that there was no way I wanted to play North Dakota State University,” said Ash. “If we win this game, we play the Bison in Fargo. We didn’t want to play them in September and we don’t want to play them now.”

Fields doubled down on his coach’s comments.

“I know I told all of you that we bought out of that game for something that seemed like a decent answer at the time,” said Fields. “That was a lie. Coach and I were scared of playing the Bison then and we were scared today. I am happy with coach’s choice to end the season.”

Coach Ash also talked about a pre-game conversation he had with the AD about late game situations.

“We came to the agreement that if we had a chance to lose the game late, we would. If you are to ask me about this strategy in the future, I will still say it was the best choice we could have made.”

Coincidentally, riots broke out in the downtown area of Bozeman, many of them being aided by the police. Reports are also indicating that several MSU students and athletes are asking if it is possible to transfer to the University of Montana.

You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.