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.
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?