North Dakota State @ Northern Iowa, 2012
by, 09-29-2012 at 02:56 PM (2677 Views)
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa--I am at the UNIDome today to see the top ranked NDSU Bison visit the UNI Panthers. NDSU comes into this game undefeated at 3-0, while UNI sits at 1-3. It is a beautiful upper 70s/lower 80s day right now and would be a great outdoor game today but we are inside the dome where a near capacity crowd is expected.
This is the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for NDSU, while UNI plays their second league game. UNI is coming off a loss at Youngstown State in a high scoring game with the Penguins winning 42-35.
This game almost is a must win for UNI for any playoff hopes for the Panthers. NDSU, on the other hand, will hope to stay atop the national rankings with a win where it would set up a great matchup with the undefeated Penguins in Fargo next week. YSU is ranked #3 in some polls and has an off-week.
NDSU has given up just over four points per game on defense so it will be a key area in this game to see if the UNI offense can muster more offense than NDSU's prior oppenents.
UNI quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen has looked good in his games thus far despite being a freshman. The Panthers were in both of their games against Big 10 teams in Iowa and Wisconsin, as well as last week against YSU.
I believe Panther running backs David Johnson and Carlos Anderson will have to run the ball to keep the NDSU defense from keying on the pass.
UNI's defense I believe has shown some vulnerability to the run and that plays into the NDSU's game plan on offense. Sam Ojuri and John Crocket are the one-two running punch for the Bison. Quarterback Brock Jensen has also played well in the passing game in leading a balanced attack.
NDSU defeated UNI last year in Fargo for the first time in the two program's Missouri Valley history after losing the first three in the series.
UNI is also a little banged up after playing the two Big 10 teams but it is a little unclear even just before kickoff who will be out there for the Panthers. NDSU is relatively healthy aside from losing All-American canidate safety Colton Heagle and sat some players last week when the Bison won easily over Prairie View A&M.
The first couple of series to me will be key. If NDSU is up early, they will likely take the crowd out of the game. But if the game is close, this will be an advantage for the Panthers.
Having seen both teams in action earlier this year, I think this game will be close but I can't overlook that NDSU has not lost a road game since losing the Division I quarterfinal contest in 2010. The Bison know how to play on the road and fell they will come out with the victory today. But it will likely be under a touchdown difference.
We shall see. I can't wait until kickoff.