I am often asked my opinion on things that involve football. The questions range from how to find which player position best suits a child to who I think will win the Super Bowl, and pretty much everything in between. I have many thoughts on the game, on coaching, and on improving performance, so I am starting Passing Thoughts to share some of those thoughts. I welcome your comments and conversation. –KR

Friday, September 6, 2013

College Game to Watch: SDSU vs. UND

While high school football fans in the area are anticipating the big President’s Bowl matchup for Sioux Falls high schools, college fans in the area likely have an eye on the game between UND and SDSU tomorrow. It should be a great college football game, and these are some things to know going into it:

1) Both team’s statistics may be a bit deceiving this early in the season, as both teams overmatched their opponents during Week 1 of the season. 

Austin Sumner
2) UND only has one South Dakota native on the team, Darren Deneui, and SDSU does not have any North Dakota natives on its roster.

3) SDSU is currently ranked No. 6 and No. 7 this week in the Sports Network and FCS Coaches polls.

4) SDSU QB Austin Sumner threw for 326 yards in the 55-14 victory over Butler, and RB Zach Zenner had 117 yards and 2 TD’s in just a half of action.

5) UND defeated Valparaiso last week 69-10, and their offensive weapons include Senior Greg Hardin (WR/Kick Returns), Senior Jake Miller at RB, and redshirt freshman Ryan Bartels at QB.

6) UND owns a 46-33-5 edge in the series, and the last time they played was 2010 with SDSU coming out on top 21-0. UND is 67-13 in 12 seasons at the Alerus Center.

Greg Hardin
I think UND’s strengths include that they have playmakers at the skilled positions, and they are explosive in their special teams. They also have a defense that can create a lot of pressure and turnovers, and their kicker is very good. That same defense that tries to create turnovers may prove to be a weakness if they show they make themselves susceptible to big plays. It will be interesting to see if they are able to match up physically with SDSU’s aggressive playing style, and certainly, their inexperience at QB may also be a factor in the game.

SDSU has an extremely experienced QB and one of the top RB’s in Division 1 FCS, so their offense is expected to do well. They also have an aggressive and very physical defense that plays smart and will be looking to shut down UND’s skilled position players. The Alerus Center is a tough environment for teams, and this will be a test for SDSU’s ability to handle the noise and playing against some extremely talented players like Hardin and Miller. SDSU’s timing in their passing game was solid last week, but this environment against a fast defense will test their ability to answer the call.

Zach Zenner
We know that UND is going to try and take away SDSU's running game to make them one dimensional. Everyone has tried this, but very few have succeeded. I think the real question will be if UND can create and score on some turnovers, make big plays on special teams, and try to play with a lead. I can see UND playing very aggressively in the first half, but the tough blue-collar style of football that SDSU plays will wear down the Fighting Sioux. Austin Sumner is primed to have another big game and will take advantage of UND trying to shut down SDSU's running game. 

It should be a great match up, but I think the advantage goes to SDSU!  Enjoy the game!

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