Bison to butt heads with in-form rivals

19 March 2021 00:04:40 GMTPlus10

Reigning FCS champion North Dakota State must beat No.2 North Dakota on Saturday to retain a realistic chance of claiming a 10th straight Missouri Valley Football Conference title.

The Bison got off to a stuttering start this spring campaign when a shock defeat to Southern Illinois left them at 2-1, but Matt Entz's team have since reeled off back-to-back wins over Missouri State and Illinois State.

Saturday's clash at the Fargodome pits the teams together as conference opponents for the first time since 2003 and, protecting a 31-game home winning streak, the Bison cannot afford any slip-ups.

Turnover-prone NDSU have not been at their best offensively with starting quarterback Zeb Noland benched last time out as true freshman Cam Miller steered the Bison home.

North Dakota have been efficient in their unbeaten start behind redshirt freshman QB Tommy Schuster - the star of the fastest-rising team in Football Championship Subdivision.

Schuster won the starting job over fellow freshman Quincy Vaughan this spring and is 4-0, going 87 of 127 passing with seven touchdowns and two interceptions for the Fighting Hawks.

"They protect him," NDSU head coach Entz said, via The Grand Forks Herald.

"You watch film, there's little drop-back pass. It's all moving pocket, naked bootlegs, screen game, three-step drops. They are trying to get the ball out of his hands and keep the chains moving. There's nothing wrong with being second-and-five."

The Bison are 10/11 to cover the 3.5-point spread.

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