No. 1 Bison Prepped to Host No. 5 Panthers
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 16:10
In the Bison’s first three years in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the University of Northern Iowa was the biggest thorn in the side of NDSU. From 2008-10, UNI outscored the Bison 81-49 on their way to a 3-0 record, giving the Bison a rude introduction into the MVFC.
My, oh my how the tables have turned for the Panthers.
The Bison come into Saturday afternoon’s game winning the last 32 of their last 34, besting UNI twice during that span.
“Through the years it’s probably one of the more heated games that we have had,” NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said during Monday’s press conference. “…You can slice it and dice it anyway you want. This is an excellent football team.”
UNI is coming into the Fargodome riding a winning streak of their own that has placed them in the top-5 of the FCS polls. The Panthers are led by 6-foot-3-inch running back David Johnson.
A MVFC pre-season all-American, Johnson has been running wild this season, rushing for 549 yards coming into Saturday’s game.
“He’s not only a big guy, he has an excellent ability to change direction,” Bohl said. “He’s got good hands, they utilize him out of the backfield and he’s an excellent running back.”
Unfortunately for Johnson, he will be facing a stout Bison defensive line. During last week’s game in Brookings, S.D., the Bison defense held the FCS leading rusher, Zach Zenner, for four rushing yards on eight attempts. As the second ranked defense against the run, the Bison defensive line has been unmovable. The only team that has been able to move the ball effectively on the ground has been Ferris State who gained 233 yards during the Bison home opener.
When asked about the difference between Johnson and Zenner, Bohl said, “Johnson is more elusive.” He also stressed how much more he is utilized in the offense over Zenner.
The Bison offense may have some trouble of their own as they get set to face UNI’s third ranked defense led by junior linebacker Jake Farley. The multiple defensive look UNI has given opponents has been impenetrable, only giving up an average of 11 points a game. Coach Bohl believes the Bison offensive line will have the biggest challenge.
“I think more for our offensive line because you have to adjust blocking schemes,” Bohl said. “From a three down look to a four down look and vice versa…the pass protection will have to change more.”
It’s expected to be a defensive battle on Saturday, but this is nothing new for the conference rivals. As each conference game is played, the larger the implications have become and for the Bison, defeating both SDSU and UNI would be a move in the right direction as they seek for their third MVFC championship in a row.
Another sellout will be on hand for the 2:30 p.m. kickoff as UNI looks to improve their luck against the Bison and turn the table once again in their favor at the always rowdy Fargodome.