Grant Olson had received the news. He has a torn ACL: and Grade 1 MCL sprain in his left knee. North Dakota State's senior middle linebacker and tackling machine will be required to undergo surgery.
"Eventually,'' Olson said Monday. "In most cases, you would have surgery right away. I have to talk to Coach [Craig] Bohl and the staff today. I want to stay part of our effort to win a third straight national championship.''
Olson was not suggesting that he could do so by playing with a torn ACL. What's he hoping is to work out a plan with Bohl and the coaches to be a productive presence on the sideline -- "do something special teams-wise, or something I see the opponents doing on offense ... whatever I can do to help.''
And if surgery would take him away from daily contact with the team, then Olson sound as if his preference would be to delay it.
Olson was injured early in the second half of Saturday's 28-10 victory over Illinois State. The victory put the Bison's winning streak at 18 games and the record for the past three seasons at 37-2.
Yet, the knee injury to Olson -- preceded earlier by one suffered by Marcus Williams, the fantastic senior D-back -- created something of a gloomy atmosphere inside the Fargodome.
"It was also the deer hunting opener,'' Olson said. "I've seen that before here. There aren't as many fans and the crowd isn't as loud when it's the deer opener.''
Saturday's game at Youngstown State will be the first Olson has missed due to injury in his four years at North Dakota State. Grant also said he had not missed a game while playing for Wayzata High School.
"I'm trying to think ... I don't think I've ever missed a football game because of injury,'' Olson said. "I did miss an AAU basketball game with an ankle sprain, but that's the only injury I can remember that kept me out of an athletic event.''
The injury came in what seemed routine circumstances. "I was getting in on a tackle, and all the weight wound up on my left foot,'' Olson said. "It's a play I've made a 1,000 times, but this time the knee buckled.''
Carlton Littlejohn, a junior from Minneapolis North, took over at middle linebacker after Olson was hurt. "Carlton's our do-everything linebacker,'' Olson said. "He has learned all the linebacker positions. Carlton has been an outstanding player here.''
North Dakota State had a huge blip with its football success in 2009, when the Bison went 3-8. Williams was a redshirt that season. Olson arrived in 2010, as did Billy Turner, a tremendous offensive tackle from Mounds View.
The Bison went 9-5 that season, losing to eventual national champion Eastern Washington 38-31 in overtime in the FCS quarterfinals. For Olson, Turner, Williams and the rest of the Bison upperclassmen, this had been followed by 14-1 and national titles in 2011 and 2012, and 9-0 with two Missouri Valley Conference games remaining this season.
As amazing for this group of NDSU seniors is a 4-0 record over FBS schools: at Kansas in 2010, at Minnesota in 2011, at Colorado State in 2012 and this season's large upset at Kansas State
What does Olson find more astounding -- the 37-2 and consecutive national titles, or 3-0 vs. BCS schools, with the additional win over Colorado State?
"I'd say the 37-2 and national titles show the commitment that everyone in the football program makes on a daily basis,'' he said. "And the 4-0 vs. FBS teams speaks to the talent of the players we have here. I think our talent is still underrated by many people on the outside.''
Olson wasn't sure as to the extent of Marcus Williams' injury. It appears to have been more of a twist of a knee than something to keep him out long-term.
Last weekend turned out far different individually for Olson than for A.J. Tarpley, Grant's linebacking partner for Wayzata's 2008 state champs and again in 2009. Tarpley is a standout linebacker at Stanford and helped the Cardinal physically manhandle Oregon for a second straight season.
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