Knowing they had to win to get into the FCS playoffs, the UND football team went out to San Luis Obispo, California on Saturday and played exactly like a team looking to secure a playoff berth. The Fighting Hawks absolutely pounded the Mustangs from the opening kickoff to the final horn, winning 45-21.
That final score was a little deceiving however as UND led 35-0 in the 3rd quarter and played some younger depth in the final quarter and change.
The UND defense played an outstanding game in virtually shutting down the vaunted Cal-Poly triple option attack. The Stangs ended the game with only 153 yards on 48 rushing attempts, by FAR their lowest of the season. The biggest key was UND was able to keep them in check through sound tackling, not allowing any big runs. When you make a triple-option team snap it again and again bad things are going to happen to them.
The one disappointing play defensively was when Poly continued to predictably chuck it deep in catchup mode and Deion Harris was beaten on a long TD pass play unnecessarily. Have to be smarter in that situation. Make it a learning experience.
Not surprisingly, S Cole Reyes and ILB Will Ratelle led the Hawks in tackles with 21 combined. Those two were everywhere, sideline to sideline, and really stuck out all game.
The UND offense was dominating up front all game. In jumping out to their 28-0 halftime lead, the UND offensive line methodically opened up holes for RB John Santiago on each and every drive.
QB Keaton Studsrud was damn near perfect on Saturday in his overall play. He ended the game 17-20 for 255 yards and 2 TD’s. The long skinny post to WR Clive Georges that put UND up 21-0 was a well-timed call by OC Paul Rudolph and sort of broke the spirit of the Poly team, IMO.
We have been railing on this pretty hard on our Twitter feed so we will vent here one last time. Eventually we will move on but as of Monday morning we still cannot figure out how UND didn’t get in the FCS playoff field.
When looking into everything we see the Chair of the Committee, Mark Wilson of Tennessee Tech (nothing says “I know good football” like an AD from Tennessee Tech) just happens to be from the Ohio Valley Conference. Funny, the last team in was from the OVC. The same conference that is a perennial playoff doormat.
We are split on Western Illinois. Fritz believes WIU is a non-starter because they only have 6 wins. Having a 6 D1 win team in the playoffs over 7 D1 win teams is unprecedented. Now all 6-win teams will have to be considered by the committee moving forward. As if it wasn’t already difficult enough. Oskie believes 6-win WIU deserved to be in over 7-win UND because of high-end wins & SOS and is justified because the committee “explained” their rationale on strength of schedule and good losses. Debate and discuss.
Not one single mention of WIU as a playoff candidate by ANYONE all season long until Craig Haley’s Saturday evening projection release. Two weeks prior, he had UND in the field. Interesting. Not shockingly, WIU was paired up with Dayton in the first round. You do the math.
Very little case can be made for Fordham and Eastern Illinois when actually looking at the schedules and seeing who they beat. Who you beat is actually important in our minds because it shows what your ceiling is. Eastern Illinois ceiling is beating non-playoff teams that are average.
Outstanding job, Mark Wilson. You and your committee are now getting blasted by pretty much everyone around the country who follows FCS football. Not just for excluding UND, which most people agree with us on, but by placing 5 MVFC teams on one side of the bracket from what you yourself call the strongest conference in the country.
While we’re at it, who did Sam Houston State beat? I guess previous playoff history played quite the role this year.
**However, why not 6-5 Eastern Washington? Look at their schedule in a much better conference. Talk about “good losses”. Their 5 losses:
- @ Oregon 61-42
- @ Northern Iowa 38-35
- vs Portland State 34-31
- @Montana 57-16
- vs Northern Arizona 52-30
We’d like to to hear what Doug Fullerton thinks about this and would like to hear what Idaho State’s AD Jeff Tingey has to say about it since he was in the room as the BSC rep on the selection committee. Apparently, we needed better politicking.
The healing here will take a while on this one, especially because of the seniors, whom we will salute in a later post.
Hats off to Bubba, his staff, and the entire team. You have everyone’s attention going into 2016.