Recruiting Update: Pre-Christmas

It appears as if UND will be having an extremely small recruiting visitor list this weekend.  We have somewhat confirmed that they will be hosting two UAB players who are looking to transfer.  As you all may know, UAB decided to shutdown the program a few weeks ago and all of their players are now looking for homes.  Coach Bill Clark did a heck of a job turning around that downtrodden program and they should have been selected for a Bowl Game, but were not due to the Presidents decision to shut it down.

Visiting from UAB are defensive end Chris Rabb and running back Ja’Won Arrington.  We believe both will have two years of eligibility left.  Both were backups for UAB but played in the majority of the games this past season.

–UND received Juco Signing Day papers from three players on Wednesday.  The three who will be joining UND for the spring semester are:

Safety Zach Arnell - Santa Barbara City College

OT Kevin Camy - Butte College

WR Alex Reed - Iowa Western Community College

Besides the fact that all three help fill needs, we love the fact that all three come from winning programs.  In fact, Iowa Western made it all the way to the NJCAA National Championship before losing to #1 East Mississippi.  UND needs to get used to winning and obviously that comes with doing it but having players in the locker room that know how to achieve those results is a great start.

Current UND commits Mason Bennett and Zack Williams have both been selected to U-18 Team Canada.  The team will take on Team USA in an international all-star football game on January 30th, 2015 down in Dallas, TX.  The game will be played at AT&T (Cowboys) Stadium.

As you can see on the right side of this page, UND is up to 18 commits now for the Class of 2015.  We expect them to try and get around 10 more commits.

Lastly, if you want the lastest up to date recruiting info we suggest you follow us on Twitter.  That is where all the real time information goes down and has basically become the new way to relay recruiting information.

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Verbal Commit 2015 – Brady Oliveira

Name:  BRADY OLIVEIRA

School: Oak Park High School – Winnipeg, Manitoba (Head Coach Stu Nixon)

Vitals:  Running Back (#5)  5’10″ – 220 lbs

On August 14th, UND had received their 6th verbal commitment for the class of 2015 from Winnipeg running back Brady Oliveira.  The big, physical, north-south runner attended UND’s camp last summer before committing early.  Given his size, he shows decent speed  for a high school kid to complement his bruising style.

During his senior season, Oliveira assaulted the Winnipeg High School record books by accounting for 36 touchdowns and 2,200 yards rushing on just 170 carries – that’s a 13 yards per carry average.

While his high school film shows his ability running inside and outside, his strength in college will no doubt be as a physical, downhill runner between the tackles in the power running game out of 2-back sets.  Physically, Oliveira’s lower half appears to be college ready.

Objectively speaking, the biggest questions on Oliveira are his top end speed and the level of competition he played against in Canada.  We don’t see him being a game-breaking homerun threat that can take it 80 yards, but we do see him as a guy that will be able to gash defenses for big chunks of yardage and wear down opponents into the 4th quarter with his physical style of running.

Depending on his physical development over the winter, spring and summer, Oliveira is definitely a candidate to have his redshirt pulled next season and play right away, so we plan on hearing about him being on campus early this summer.

YouTube Senior Highlights

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Recruiting Weekend #2

UND had a fairly successful first recruiting weekend last Saturday-Sunday.  They gained commitments from OT Kevin Camy from Butte Collge, QB Brad Heidlebaugh of Rugby, ND, and WR Clive Georges from U of Arizona.  That puts them at 15 for the class of 2015.

Side note:  We expect the majority of the post-Xmas recruits to be high school kids.  It is crucial to get all FBS/Juco transfers in for a visit before Xmas break because they need to be signed up for classes at their new college by the second week in January.

This weekend we have confirmed the following visitors:

  • DJ Peluso – RB – San Mateo College (CA) – Hudl
  • Jade Lawrence – RB/LB – Moorhead High School, Moorhead, MN – Hudl
  • Zac Gillis – OL – Iowa Western CC – Hudl
  • Zach Arnell – S – Santa Barbara City College – Hudl
  • Bryson McCabe – S – Iowa Western CC (SDSU originally) – Hudl  (already visited this week)
  • Alex Reed – WR – Iowa Western CC – Hudl

As usual we will update this page if any other names come up.  We are assuming they have more than four players visiting so we will keep checking around.

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Verbal Commit 2015 – Mason Bennett

Name:  MASON BENNETT

School:  Vincent Massey Football – Winnipeg, MB (Coach Kelsey McKay)

Vitals:  OLB (#55)  6’4″ – 230 lbs

Mason Bennett is the third commitment from the great north in this recruiting class.  He joins fellow Winnipeger’s Brady Oliveira and Zack Williams in the UND class of 2015.  Bennett is the #5 overall rated Canadian player in this year’s group of college eligible players.

Bennett is a tall, rangy linebacker who played all of his career at defensive end for Vincent Massey.  Bennett is standing up on the end of the line in most clips, very similar to what he will be doing for UND at the outside linebacker position.  He is explosive off the edge, as evidenced by his 16 sacks that he recorded this past fall.  He also shows good quickness when making his first move vs. the opposing tackle.

By all accounts, Bennett impressed at several camps this summer, solidifying him as a top prospect in Canada.  He will add another element to the OLB position that you can’t teach – height.  At 6’4″, he will be able to get in the passing lanes while dropping into coverage and force higher throws, etc.  Overall, we see him as a strong-side OLB in UND’s 3-4 scheme due to his size and pass rushing ability.

Bennett will need to work on lateral agility before he will be a complete outside linebacker.  He will be a force off the edge but UND’s OLB’s need to be able to drop from the line of scrimmage into the flat/curl zone and cover up intermediate routes.  Backpedaling and dropping towards the sideline is a must for OLB’s in UND’s 3-4 scheme.

Bennett has been selected to Team Canada, which will take on a team from the U.S. in an All-Star football game this coming February, 2015.

Hudl

Canada Top Prospects

Bennett Family

 

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Recruiting Weekend #1

The UND Football program will be holding their first full recruiting weekend of the year coming up on Saturday, December 6th.  They have already had a number of official visits take place this past fall during home game weekends so a few commits and recruits are already done with that part, but some are taking them this weekend.

This will be Bubba Schweigert’s first full year of recruiting as they were not able to really get started until early January due to his hiring before Christmas break.

The fact of the matter is this:  UND needs to hit a home run with this class.  I mean off the facade in the second deck, type of homerun.  This class combined with the 2014 class are going to lay the program’s foundation for the next five years.

We are not saying they need to get every “highly-ranked” recruit that is out there.  They need to get the kids they are targeting and then retain them for their entire career.  We can grade this class in February and speculate at how good they did but per usual, we won’t know if Bubba hit a home run for anther 2-3 years down the line.

Having said that, Bubba has stated that UND is obviously recruiting “across the board” once again this year.  They need help at every position.  But, we figured we would narrow it down a bit to the positions that are of dire need:

  1. Safety.  They need multiple safeties in this class.  Probably 4, minimum.  We expect at least two of them to be junior college players.  UND currently has 5 safeties on their entire roster and two of them are walk-ons.  Safeties play special teams and can be moved to OLB if they flourish in the weight room and get big enough.  Can’t have enough safeties on your team.
  2. Running Back.  UND is down to the skeleton at this position.  They lost Jer Garman and Adam Shaugabay to graduation and are down to Cedric Simmons, who is hurt (and frankly, we are waiting to see how he comes out of it) and Patrick Sharp.  Two RB’s on the entire roster.  They need a big-time transfer type at Xmas break to go along with Brady Oliveira, who already committed.
  3. Wide Receiver.  UND is down to the skeleton at this position, too.  They have three WR’s coming back that actually played last fall (Cerriteno, Seibel, Walker).  They need more height (6’3″+) and more speed at this position.  Teams did not have to worry about the deep passing game at all last season and this needs to be changed.

Visitors we have confirmed for this weekend:

  • Troy Hansen – LB – Canada Prep, St. Catharines, ON – Hudl
  • Patric Rooney (committed) – OL – Benilde St. Margarets, St. Louis Park, MN – Hudl
  • Donnell Rodgers (committed) – OLB – Woodbury High School, Woodbury, MN – Hudl
  • Zack Williams (committed) – OL – Winnipeg, MB – Hudl
  • Carl Engwall (committed) – DL – Lakeville North High School, Lakeville, MN – Hudl
  • Javon Tillman – S – Sierra College (CA-Juco) – Hudl
  • Barron Miller – LB – Mississippi Gulf Coast (MS-Juco) – Hudl
  • Mike Adams – S – Laney College (CA-Juco) – Hudl
  • Kevin Camy – OT – Butte College (CA-Juco – Hudl
  • Brad Heidlebaugh – ATH – Rugby High School, Rugby, ND
  • Clive Georges – WR – Key West High School, FL (U. of Arizona transfer) – Hilites

We are almost certain they will be having a few FBS transfers in for official visits, also.  We will try and update this page as the weekend goes along.  Hopefully, we will find more names.

 

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Thanking the Seniors

One common theme for this year’s group of UND seniors is the adversity they worked through and overcame throughout their careers:  Position changes (multiple times by some), a coaching change, the transition to D1, and some down times in terms of the success of the team on the field.  This group has been through a lot.

Most of these guys selflessly hung in there and stuck around for the program when things were in doubt during the coaching staff change, while they watched others around them leave.  This group defines the pride and commitment that exists in the UND Football program.

For all of that, we say “thank you, seniors” and good luck in your future endeavors off the field.

74 Devin Barton (Carrington, N.D.):  Considered a project out of high school by many, Barton was a depth guy his first couple years.  Then, this North Dakota product became an anchor at left tackle the last two years and really was one of the more sure things they had up front.

40 Baylee Carr (Hazen, N.D.):  Another home grown in-state player with good leadership qualities who logged a lot of plays from the safety position.  Made a mark on special teams early in his career as well and started at safety essentially the last 2 1/2 seasons.  Ended 2014 as the third leading tackler on the team with 68.

91 Spencer Cummings (White Bear Lake, Minn.):  Really started to hit his stride after being asked to move to noseguard this year.  Almost seemed like a natural fit at the position and maybe should have been there all along.  Was a difference maker in the run defense in the second half of the season.

96 Berto Espinoza (Reno, Nev.):  Transferred to UND last year from Feather River CC in CA and played consistently all year adding nice depth to a depleted defensive line.  Had 14 tackles on the year.

2 Jer Garman (Marion, Iowa):  Garman controversially had his redshirt pulled and had a slow start to his career due to being behind on the depth chart and being in a pass happy offense.  Commitment and diligence paid off for Iowa native this year as he was the featured back in the 2nd half of the season that made the UND ground game formidable.  In his last 5 games, Garman rushed for 741 yards (175, 235,  137, 92, 102) – an avg of 148 yards per game – and set career marks in 4 out of those 5.  The senior seemed to hit his stride to close the season.

69 Ben Henson (Buffalo, Minn.):  Played defensive line early in his career and then was asked to play guard this year when injuries hit and filled in admirably.  Another selfless player you want on your team.  Henson was a bit undersized at 6’1″-290 but he was probably the most passionate player on the team and a key member of the program.

44 Alex Hickel (Grand Forks, N.D.):  The hometown Red River High School grad added valuable depth to the OLB position for 3 years.  Hickel got bogged down on the depth chart this year but stuck it out and kept contributing the entire year in whichever manner was asked.

1 Tyrhe Ivery (Garland, Texas):  Started strong early in his career and will probably be remembered most by his game against South Dakota as a freshman.  Led the stunning comeback victory against South Dakota at the Alerus that clinched the Great West Conference title and got Ed Meirkort fired at USD.  Ivery finished that game with 2 TDs and was clutch down the stretch.  Another guy that was asked to move across the ball a couple times, Ivery played corner and WR during the 2nd part of his career.

7 R.J. McGill (Phoenix, Ariz.):  McGill had his redshirt pulled and was an early contributor during his freshman and sophomore seasons.  After blowing his ACL and redshirting, McGill came back again only to have the same season-ending injury occur this year.  Would have been a difference-maker this season based on experience alone at the position.

50 Alex Nelson (Minot, N.D.):  A backup linebacker who joined the team in 2012 after spending his freshman year as a student at UND.

30 Dwayne Pecosky (Commerce City, Colo.):  Came to UND as a center, moved to defensive line, and then finished his career as a fullback, Pecosky defined the role of “team player” by moving around whenever asked by 2 different coaching staffs.  These types of players are the backbone of any program.

52 Ben Peters (Chandler, Ariz.):   A highly-touted recruit out of high school, Peters was a solid player at linebacker on the 2 deep for four years.  This year Peters did a nice job at ILB collecting 38 tackles and logging consistent game reps all season.

15 Garret Reineke (Thompson, N.D.):  UND found this diamond in the rough 7 miles down I-29 late in the recruiting cycle and was essentially a signing day surprise nobody knew about.  Five years later, Reineke came out of nowhere for his senior campaign and was a leading playmaker on a vastly improved UND defense.  He finished with 34 total tackles, 9.5 TFLs , 5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.

39 Adam Shaugabay (Warroad, Minn.):  A solid, serviceable backup for most of his career, Shaugabay found a role as a short yardage runner and was a good, physical change of pace back.

25 Alex Tillman (Houston, Texas):   All you need to know about this young man is that he transferred in from FBS program Houston for his final season of eligibility and in a blink of an eye, was named team captain in his short tenure as a senior at UND.  Outside of his evident character qualities, he brought stability to a position of dire need and was a big play guy with a TD on an interception return that sealed a win and a punt return for 92 yards for a TD.

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Finishing On a High Note

The UND Football team traveled out to Greely, CO to take on the UNC Bears with a two goals in mind:  Get their first road win of the season and send the UND senior class out on a winning note.  Both goals accomplished.  UND led the game wire to wire and beat UNC 33-14 to end the season with a 5-7 record.  UND did improve from last year’s 3-8 mark, which is always a good sign.  
  • Northern Colorado ran the ball 20 times for 18 yards.
  • UND ended the day +5 in turnover margin by forcing 4 fumbles and picking off UNC QB Sean Rubalcaba twice.
  • The UND defensive line completely dominated the game as we had suspected they might.  UND had nine tackles for loss and 4 sacks.  Senior Spencer Cummings went out on a high note with 2.5 TFL’s and a sack.
  • Once again, Jer Garman and the UND offensive line controlled the tempo of the game and churned out big yards.  Garman ran the ball 34 times for 164 yards and 2 TD’s.  Senior offensive lineman Devin Barton and Ben Henson both had nice games and were the leaders of UND’s resurgent ground game.
  • True freshman Deion Harris and junior Domo Blackmon both picked up their first career interceptions on Saturday.  Both are going to be a big part of the UND defense in 2015.
  • UND freshman walk-on WR Josh Seibel got his first career TD to open the scoring for UND.  Great moment for a kid that has worked his way up the depth chart.
  • Freshman kicker Reid Taubenheim had another huge game.  Taubs’ hit from 47, 47, 38, and 36 and ended the season a solid 16-21 on field goals.  That kid came a long way from fall camp and has a bright future in front of him.

This was a great game for UND all-around.  They controlled the game from beginning to end, building up a 33-7 lead before giving up a late TD with the reserves in the game.  The UND coaching staff said they were going to run the ball and play defense this year, come hell or high water.  That is what they did.

It wasn’t always pretty but it became clear to all that progress was being made as the season went on, not only by the players but by the staff as well.  The coaches evolved as the players did and play-calling got better as the running game, in particular, flourished late in the season.

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Week 12 Preview – Northern Colorado Bears

The Game Vitals


Game Time
 - 1:00 CT

Opponent - Northern Colorado at Nottingham Field, Greeley, CO

Game Notes - UND

TV - None

Online Streaming - Big Sky TV   

Spread - Northern Colorado -4   O/U 39.5

 

Northern Colorado Breakdown (3-7 record)

– Offense = Spread-Pistol/Gun, 3 WR’s.

– Defense = 4-3

– Last Meeting:  2013 – UND beat Northern Colorado 24-21 in Grand Forks.

The Northern Colorado Bears come into this game off a loss to Weber State in Ogden by a score of 34-21.  UNC has also beaten Northern Arizona, another similarity to UND.  Sitting at 3-7, UNC has been in a few games this year but haven’t been able to finish them off.

Offensively, the Bears run the typical Big Sky spread offense with the QB in shotgun/pistol most of the time.  They are averaging 20 pts/game and 342 yards on offense, good for 12th in the Big Sky.  UND is 13th in scoring offense and total offense.  UNC only averages 117 yards/game on the ground with the remaining 225 coming through the air.  They are not a dynamic offense by any means but try to stay alive by moving the sticks and then taking their shots when available.

QB #15 Sean Rubalcaba has been at the helm most of the season for the Bears.  The 6’2″-190 sophomore is 142-207 for 1,724 yards and 10 TDs.  Rubalcaba is also a threat to run the ball in UNC’s spread offense as he has run for 323 yards and 3 TD’s this season.

The guy UND needs to worry about on Saturday is WR #3 Dimitri Stimphil.  Stimphil, 5’10″-180, has 51 receptions for 713 yards and 5 TD’s.  He is a very quick, threat to score type of receiver every time he touches the ball.  UND best watch how UNC is aligning him as he can create major mismatches if lined up across from safeties.

The UNC defense has been an average unit this season, averaging 30 pts/game allowed.  What they are good at is intercepting the ball.  They have 17 interceptions on the year, which is good for 4th nationally.  Due to those INT’s, UNC is an impressive +10 in turnover margin.  On the flip side, UND is -4 on the season.  Thankfully, UND is not a passing team so that interception ability should not a big factor on Saturday.

North Dakota (4-7) Keys to the Game

  1. UND Defensive Front Seven – GATA.  UNC has given up an unbelievable 45 sacks this year.  Yes, 45.  UND’s defense is second in the Big Sky with 30 sacks.  Ratchet up the pressure once again this week and get 5-7 sacks.  The word is NG Jordan Hinojosa and possibly CB Chris Carter are going to be back this week.  That will be a big boost to UND’s defense.
  2. Give it Give it Give it to Garman.  Jer Garman is on fire at RB for UND, coming off a 235 yard performance vs. NAU.  He has shown great vision and great speed and is peaking at the right time of the year.  UNC is 11th in the Big Sky in rushing defense.  Run the ball.  Alot.
  3. We called for UND’s special teams/defense to setup the offense with a short field and they responded last week.  Do it again, please.  The offense flourished last week partly due to not having to drive 80 yards every possession.

UND needs to build off last week’s win over NAU and at the same time get their first road win of the season.  UND has not looked good on the road this year.  In fact, they have looked terrible at times.  Winning this game on the road can springboard UND into winter workouts/recruiting on a high note and get them to a 5-7 record on the season.

The Prediction

North Dakota 22

Northern Colorado 20

 

 

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A “Senior Day” Win for UND

To say UND “needed” that win last weekend over #22 Northern Arizona is debatable.  They have been out of the playoff discussion for week’s now and these last games were all being played for pride and the senior’s on the team.  However, now that they have won the game it seems like they did “need” that one as the season winds down.

This team is still a work in progress.  The coaches are still trying to figure out exactly what they got at each position because each game presents different scenario’s.  To see how kid’s can bounce back game to game and react to adversity is a season-long evaluation.  For UND to comeback after losing to the two worst teams in the Big Sky (SUU & Weber State) and getting thrashed by EWU out in Cheney showed a ton of pride, not only in themselves but the program.

We have to remember that NAU had everything to play for on Saturday.  Their playoff lives were on the line and if they had won they were probably in the playoffs with 8 wins.  NAU had beaten Cal-Poly and Eastern Washington in previous weeks and were playing fairly good ball.

Instead, UND came out and manhandled them at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.  The UND offensive line played it’s best game of the year, by far.  They helped churn out 297 rushing yards, with senior Jer Garman picking up a whopping 235 of those.  Can’t think of a better way for ‘senior day’ to go for the running back from Marion, IA.

On the flip side, an issue we addressed last week popped up again vs. NAU.  The UND secondary got picked on pretty good in the second half once again this week.  The run defense was tough once again, only allowing 68 yards on 29 attempts.  The problem was that NAU was allowed to throw for 374 yards.  Honestly, the secondary looks fatigued to me.  They have no depth, which forces guys like Alex Tillman, Chris Brown, and Cole Reyes to play every single play, every game.  That might not sound abnormal but there are games where they have been on the field 75+ plays.  That will wear you down over a 12 game season.  Factor in that some of the defensive players are also on special teams.

3rd and Long defense was an issue Saturday.  NAU was able to get first down’s on the following down/distances:

  • 3rd and 8 — 3rd and 10 — 3rd and 10 — 3rd and 10 — 3rd and 20 — 3rd and 18
It does show how great the UND defense was on first and second down vs. NAU, though.  The UND front seven played another solid game, collecting 6 more sacks to give them 30 on the season.  They also had 8 TFL’s.  
Freshman kicker Reid Taubenheim had an outstanding game for UND.  Besides kicking the game winner (35) with only 9 seconds left on the clock, Taubenheim also hit two other field goals (21, 32) to go 3-3 on the day.  For the season Taubenheim is 12 for 16 and hasn’t missed a FG in five weeks.  He has improved greatly as the year has gone on and has also kicked in tight situations several times, which will serve him well in the future.  

 

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Week 11 Preview – #22 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks

The Game Vitals


Game Time
 - 12:05 CT

Opponent - Northern Arizona at The Alerus Center – Grand Forks, ND

Game Notes - UND

TV - Midco Sports Network

Online Streaming - Big Sky TV                                                                                         Spread - Northern Arizona -7.5   O/U 41

Northern Arizona Breakdown (7-3 record)

– Offense = Pro-Style, 3 WR’s and TE.

– Defense = 4-3

– Last Meeting:  2013 – Northern Arizona beat UND 48-27 in Flagstaff, AZ.

After a somewhat shocking early season loss on the road to MVFC bottom-feeder South Dakota, the Lumberjacks have turned around their season and are sitting real well as we head into the FCS playoffs.  The Jacks have rebounded to beat then #2 Eastern Washington along with Cal-Poly before that.  They only have two games left vs. UND (3-7) and Southern Utah (2-8) and will be favored to win next week as well.  The Jacks have had the benefit of an extremely easy schedule, however, not having to play Montana, Montana State, or Idaho State this season.

Offensively, the Jacks are averaging 27 pts/game and employ a ball-control, pro-style offense.  They do not do anything flashy but try to run the ball out of 3 receiver sets and control the tempo through a safe passing game.  They are averaging 423 yards per game total offense with 160 of that coming via the ground game.  They have a time of possession advantage of 33-27 this season.

QB #11 Jordan Perry has taken over the control of the Jacks offense.  He is a converted wide receiver and is the third QB that NAU has used this season.  Perry is a big kid at 6’3-210 and has decent arm strength and very accurate.  In abbreviated duty, Perry is 5-72 for 535 yards and 5 TD’s.  He is also a threat to run the ball if pressured.

RB #6 Casey Jahn is the workhorse of the NAU offense.  Jahn has 758 yards and 4 TD’s rushing this season.  He is a compact, tough nosed runner who will wear you down if NAU gets the lead.

The big play threat in the passing game is WR Ifi Umodu.  Umodu has 38 receptions for 575 yards and 4 TD’s.  At 6’3″, he will be a constant mismatch for the much smaller UND secondary.

North Dakota (3-7) Keys to the Game

  1. Pass Defense.  UND hasn’t had much problem stopping the run this year as we pointed out in our post on Tuesday.  We think they will be able to shut down NAU, also.  The problem has been pass defense and NAU will be bringing some very good skill guys to the Alerus Center on Saturday.  The UND secondary needs to re-find it’s mojo and tighten up on these Jacks receivers.  Timely breakups on third down and when NAU takes their shots deep will be a key to the game.
  2. The NAU secondary is very good from what we have seen and heard.  UND must, once again, get the running game on track early with Jer Garman.  QB Keaton Studsrud will not have many open windows in this game as UND is just too depleted at WR to consistently move the ball down the field via the passing game.
  3. As dumb as this sounds, UND’s special teams and/or defense need to score a TD or setup the offense with a short field.  When UND won games earlier this year it was because the defense or ST’s scored a TD and turned the game around.  That hasn’t happened in the last 4 weeks and they are 1-3 in those games.

Northern Arizona has a lot to play for this weekend as a FCS playoff bid is on the line.  They will come in on an emotional high and UND needs to match that intensity to stay in this one.  NAU is a consistent, ball-control team that is playing at a high level right now.  UND will definitely need all three phases to stay in this one.

The Prediction

Northern Arizona 24

North Dakota 13

 

 

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