UND prepares for Vikings

North Dakota football team travels west to kick off against Portland State.

Senior running back Jake Miller carries the ball down the field in the Alerus Center. File photo.

Following a disappointing loss at home against Sacramento State, the North Dakota football team will head west this weekend for a bout with conference foe Portland State.

UND enters the contest at 1-3 in the Big Sky Conference (2-5 overall) and will hope to pick up both its second conference win and second road win this season. The Vikings come into Saturday’s game winless in the Big Sky and victims of a three-game losing streak.

The last time UND and PSU met was in a non-conference matchup at the Alerus Center — a game in which the Green and White came away victorious in a high-scoring contest, 45-37. Prior to last season’s game, the only previous meeting between the two teams was in 1981 in Grand Forks, with North Dakota coming away with the 17-10 win.

North Dakota will look to finish the season strong, as it comes into its eighth contest of the season, tied for fifth place in the Big Sky Conference with Idaho State.

With just four games left in the regular season, the Green and White are looking to make a push to finish above the .500 mark on the season.

“Our guys need to step up and play better,” UND coach Chris Mussman said, “With our first year in the Big Sky, I want these kids to go out the proper way.”

Senior wide receiver Greg Hardin will enter Saturday’s game with UND’s regular season receiving yards record with 3,063 to his name. Hardin needs just 319 more yards in his final four collegiate games to break the overall record held by former UND star Weston Dressler.

Dressler finished his career with 3,382 yards after an impressive career that included 11 Division II postseason games — an added benefit that Hardin has not had himself.

Fellow senior Jake Miller also is pursuing school history, as he has eclipsed the 2,000 rushing yard milestone earlier this season and is just 106 yards shy of moving into North Dakota’s top 10 all-time career rushing list. Miller has rushed for 378 yards this season on 80 attempts for five touchdowns.  His last score came on a seven-yard dash against Idaho State two weeks ago — the same match in which he went over the 2,000-yard mark.

The Green and White’s passing attack will be anchored by freshman quarterback Joe Mollberg, who has completed 117 of 192 passes on the season for a 60.9 completion percentage that is fourth overall for FCS freshman quarterbacks. Mollberg also has passed for 1,394 yards this season and five touchdowns; however, he has been picked off 10 times this season.

Kick-off is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. in Portland, Ore., at Jeld-Wen Field. Watch the game online for free at www.WatchBigSky.com.

David Butz is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].