UND head back on the road in hopes of keep the streak alive
Last season, the Idaho State University Bengals won two games. One against Division II Black Hills State University, and one against UND at the Alerus Center for their homecoming.
The loss had a devastating effect on the playoff hopes of the Fighting Hawks. They came into the contest 4-1 and looked like they were in prime position to make the FCS playoffs for the first time.
The Hawks led the game for most of the contest. In the fourth quarter, UND collapsed. They allowed 15 fourth quarter points en route to a 37-31 loss.
Since the win was the only victory for ISU against division I opponent, it really hurt the Hawks when it came time for the playoff committee to pick who got into the playoffs. It was a big factor in them not making the playoffs last season, despite having a better record than the last team in.
However, the loss last season isn’t something the team dwells on.
“We don’t talk about it,” head coach Bubba Schweigert. “We aren’t into 2015, we’re into 2016, our concern is our preparation. We want to work very hard to stay atop of the Big Sky standings.”
This season, UND is once again coming into the matchup in a good spot. The Hawks are 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the Big Sky Conference, which puts them atop of the conference.
The Bengals are 2-5 this season. Their last time out, they faced Northern Arizona and got blown out 52-7.
For the Hawks, the winning streak has continued. After starting the season off with two losses, UND has rattled off five wins in a row.
Last week, the Hawks beat up on the reigning Big Sky Conference champion Southern Utah 45-23.
For UND, this is a game they should and need to win. As the Hawks saw last season, they cannot take any team in the conference lightly. ISU may not be the best team, but if they beat UND, we have seen what it can do to UND’s playoff hopes.
In ISU’s only win against a Division I opponent, they had big plays for touchdowns.
Four out of five of their offensive touchdowns went for 21-yards or more. They also returned an interception for a touchdown.
“We need to figure out a way to stop their big play people and limit their big plays,” Schweigert said. “Their team is very capable. They have tailbacks that have scored from 91-yards and 75-yards out.”
The Bengals are also 2-0 at home this season. They have defeated Sacramento State and Simon Fraser University from British Columbia, Canada.
The Hawk’s secondary will look to go back to work. Last week, they intercepted two passes against Southern Utah. They lead all FCS teams in this category.
Bengals starting quarterback Tanner Gueller will provide opportunities for the Hawks defensive backs. He has already thrown eight interceptions this season.
UND will look to capitalize on these turnovers as the Bengals have given up 48 points on turnovers so far this season.
Offensively, the Hawks could be primed for another big day. ISU has given up 37.8 points per game. They have allowed an average of 224.7 rushing yards per game and 247.7 passing yards per game.
“I think it (balanced offense) makes a team difficult to defend. Balance is tough to defend,” Schweigert said. “Right now, if we’re able to run it, and throw it, and spread the ball around, it’s really difficult to defend.”
In UND’s five victories, they have scored less than 31 points just once, a 17-15 win over Montana State.
Kickoff is Saturday, Oct. 22 at 3:25 p.m. in Pocatello, Idaho.
Adam Gunderman is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]