Earn It

With the 2014 Big Sky All-Conference Teams being announced and the preseason polls being released, we thought we’d give our own thoughts on how we think the season could play out for UND, from our perspective.  UND placed no all-conference players and was picked 10th by the coaches and 11th by the media.  We completely understand why given all the variables:  new coaching staff, massive roster turnover, last season’s results and the uncertainty of JUCO and FBS transfers and what impact they will have, etc.

UND will need to show everyone this year that they are better than many are predicting.  If you want respect from the coaches, media and opposing fanbases, you gotta earn it.

2014 Schedule

Aug. 30th @ San Jose State– We think UND could hang with the Spartans and end up short by 10-14 points.  This is not the same SJSU team that had NFL QB David Fales leading them last season.  However, we feel having so many new faces, along with a new coaching staff, will prove too much to overcome in week 1 vs. an FBS opponent.  LOSS

Sept. 6th vs ROBERT MORRIS – This is a game UND has to win in their home opener against a team who comes from the NEC and finished 5-6 last season.  The Colonials may seem like a familiar squad regionally as they played in Fargo in the 2010 playoffs and the 2012 season opener.  The Colonials also have a new coaching staff.  WIN

Sept. 13th @ Missouri State – The Bears are a good team from a very good conference (MVFC).  Here’s what they did last year:  crushed then-ranked Illinois State, crushed playoff participant South Dakota State, went to SIU and won by 10, lost by 3 points to Central Arkansas and lost by 7 to UNI.  This is a tough home team and winning in Springfield will be a tall order.  One saving grace is that the Bears play Oklahoma State in Stillwater the week before UND travels to Missouri State.  The physical and mental challenge will be there for MSU after playing a Big 12 opponent.  LOSS

Sept. 20th vs STONY BROOK – The Seawolves last visited UND in 2009 when UND defeated them 31-24.  Last season Stony Brook finished 5-6 in the CAA after winning the Big South with a 9-2 record in 2012 and advancing to the playoffs.  This is another game that we believe UND will be able to win – they must.  WIN

Sept. 27th @ Montana State – Winning a road game in the state of Montana has proven to be very difficult and is something we don’t see happening right now.  Four year starting QB Denarius McGhee is gone, but the Bearcats always have a nice home field advantage to go with their talented squads.  This will be a huge character litmus test for the new culture of the UND program moving forward.  What is the mental makeup of the 2014 version of UND Football?  How will they handle a tough environment in the Big Sky Conference, specifically if they get down early?  LOSS

Oct. 4th vs MONTANA – From a mental standpoint, UND knows 2 things:  they can beat Montana as they did in 2012 in The Alerus, or get blown out at home by the Griz like last season.  We don’t believe that UND will be as bad as last year’s game or that the Griz will be as good.  This game comes down to the 4th quarter with Montana getting a late score to win at The Alerus.  LOSS

Oct. 11th vs PORTLAND STATE – Last season, the Vikings beat UND 14-10 in a game UND could have and should have won.  PSU will be solid this year and is projected to finish in the middle of the pack of the Big Sky.  UND needs to win this home game like they did against the Vikings in 2012.  WIN

Oct. 25th @ Southern Utah – UND travels to another 2013 playoff participant in Cedar City, Utah.  UND has beaten the Thunderbirds the last 2 times they have played in 2011 and 2012 – once in Utah, once in Grand Forks.  SUU brings in another BYU transfer at QB named Ammon Olson to follow up another BYU transfer who did alright as a 4 year starter in Cedar City, Brad Sorensen.  This game could go either way, but SUU gets the advantage off of last year’s successful run.  LOSS

Nov. 1st @ Eastern Washington – Vernon Adams and Ronnie Hamlin.  Hamlin returns after single-handedly turning the game around last year in Grand Forks.  Adams, the best QB in all of FCS, returns again with a loaded arsenal on offense.  This may be the most lopsided game on the scoreboard of the 2014 season.  LOSS

Nov. 8th vs WEBER STATE – UND plays the Wildcats for the first time since going Division 1.  Weber also welcomes a 1st year coaching staff as Jay Hill takes over for Jody Sears.  Hill comes to Ogden after a long stint at The University of Utah.  Without knowing too much about what Hill will do on the field and what he brought in for transfers, its hard to gauge anything about Weber.  The only thing we do know is that this has to be a win for UND at The Al.  WIN

Nov. 16th vs NORTHERN ARIZONA – After playing for what seemed like a decade in Flagstaff, RB Zach Baumann is finally gone and graduated.  Finally (it seemed like he had more eligibility than Josh Ranek, who played in the NCC literally FOREVER).  UND played a very good NAU team tough at home in a loss in 2012 and lost in Flagstaff last year by 21 after a 2nd half meltdown.  We truly believe this is a coin-flip game for UND, and will be a big ‘swing game’ for the final record on the season.  UND wins.  WIN

Nov. 22nd @ Northern Colorado – Until we see something change dramatically in Greeley, this is and always should be a win for UND in Big Sky Conference play.  UND beat them last year in Grand Forks and lost in 2012 in Greeley on the infamous “12 men on the field” play on 4th and inches.  UND ends the season with a win over the Bears.  WIN

So there you have it.  We see a 6-6 record with a couple “swing games” that will determine the relative success of the season.  Could easily be 5-7 but with some luck could be 6-6.  If things go better than expected, 7-5 is not out of the question.

What are your thoughts on our predictions and what do you think UND finishes at?

16 Responses

  1. Teeder11

    Great scenarios, and very fairly thought out! My only variable that I can throw into the mix for the opener at San Jose is that the SJSU game might be a good “trap game” opportunity for UND in that SJSU might be sneaking a peak toward its next opponent, @ Auburn.

  2. UND Supporter

    One game at a time in my opinion.

    For now, I hope UND can surprise San Jose State. No reason we shouldn’t be able to play physical, disciplined football and stick with them.

    Hopefully the team improves game-by-game and can go 6-6. If they go 0.500 with this young team, 2015 could be a great year.

  3. bob

    I could see UND finish 4-8 with home loses to Weber State infront of a very small crowd if they start 2-5. I feel though that they will win at Southern Utah and turn their season around for the 6-6 mark.

  4. bob

    If they start 2-5, I could see UND finishing 4-8.Starting with a home lose to Weber State in front of a very small crowd. I feel though, that they will win at Southern Utah to start 3-4 and finish for the 6-6 mark. –

  5. Geaux_sioux

    It’s tough to make a real prediction at this point. It’s not as if very many preseason predictions are valid but with how much change has occurred this season is almost impossible to predict. I literally can’t wait for the first game though. It’s a new era and it’s time for improvement. After that game we’ll know what we have, kind of. Either way, I can’t wait.

    1. Oh cmon, we blatantly stated in our post that it’s way too early and hard to know anything given all the variables. It is a talker though at this time of the year and we piggy backed the BSC media day.

      So now it’s your turn. 🙂

      1. Geaux_sioux

        I honestly think 6-6 seems like a realistic prediction…. Based on nothing but still sounds good to me

  6. Nodak78

    Will all the unknowns that is a good prediction. 6-6 would be a good season with all the changes. Missouri State will be a tough opponent but I believe it is one of 2 more we could win if this team jells quickly. Missouri is 3-3 at home last year and Bubba and Eric are very familiar with their team. The other potential win could be SUU. Would love to see us go 8-4. Some would say I’m delusional but I have faith in Bubba. Especially with the recruiting the coaches have accomplished in such a short time. I think they will come out of the chutes strong.

  7. Rob

    No matter what our final record is, I just hope that we actually compete in games. Last season was terrible to watch.

  8. UND supporter

    I’m just hoping for wins. 6-6 would be good considering last year’s team, but I’ll always hope for more!

  9. Guest

    There were rumblings about a new scoreboard in the Alerus Center this winter/spring — any update on that or other upgrades to the facility?

    1. Have not heard anything about other upgrades. That info usually will trickle out in August as gametime approaches. We love the fact they are investing back in to the facility every few years.

  10. Marty

    New staff, some in positions they’ve never held before. While Faison may have opened up the purse strings for this staff compared to recent years, it’s still a new largely unfamiliar, unknown group of guys with little cohesion as a staff. Add to that a huge amount of player defections after canning the previous staff and recuiting delays due to staffing. They have done an OK job bringing in some help, but it’s really an unknown for many of them. To their credit, they brought in bodies, but the we don’t really know what we have in this group yet.

    I’ve known Bubba for over 30 years. He’s a good guy, but he’s not miracle worker. I just re-read the article in the UND Alumni magazine where the best thing the article said was his last 6 defenses finished in the “top half” of the conference ranking for defense, 4 or the last 6 years. That means a third of his defenses weren’t even middle of the pack. That was at an established FCS school, at a better than average program. I want to be hopeful. But, I see tough sledding for a while.

    This fall, I’ll be at every game cheering on my “Sioux” as I have since my first game in 1963. But, reality tells me we’re in for a few tough years. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see more than 3 wins this year.

    1. UND Supporter

      I suppose it really comes down to the players and the coaches’ ability to put them in the right position to be successful. It’s difficult to know if Mussman was just inept at recruiting or unable to prepare his players, or possibly both.

      Either way, Bubba will need to acquire better players and/or prepare them better. As you pointed out, it’s hard to say if Bubba will be able to prepare his players any better than Mussman did, but you have to like the added leadership of a former HC in Paul Rudolph, as well as Wisconsin alumnus Luke Knauf, former Purdue assistant Kevin Maurice, former Big Sky assistant Jordan Gigli, etc. They should all help the development of the players, and hopefully, be better than the previous staff.

      I’m really holding out hope that this staff just recruits better than the previous staff. Ultimately, that’s the life-blood of any program and Mussman wasn’t getting the job done. With that said, it may take 2-3 years to really turn the program around and get quality DI athletes, unless the transfers and Bubba’s first recruiting class are the real deal. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

      Go UND!

    2. Thanks for the candid response. You may very well be right with the 3 win prediction. We were definitely “optimistic” in our 6-6 prediction and were basically counting on the players responding to the new staff, along with overachieving. It is going to take time, as in years, to turn this thing around to the point where UND can be a playoff contender. This year is going to be a learning year for both the staff and the players.

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