No. 3 NDSU vs. Southern Illinois Preview
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 16:10
This Saturday, the number three-ranked Bison football team will look to keep their outstanding play going against the Southern Illinois Salukis at the Fargodome.
Southern Illinois proved they aren’t to be overlooked last Saturday with a convincing 38-21 win at Youngstown State, who was ranked 16th at the time in the coaches poll. Many young players stepped up for the Salukis, including freshman safety Antony Thompson, who was named College Football Performance Award’s Defensive Back Performer of the Week and the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week. Thompson had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown and three tackles, while recovering a blocked punt and fumble in SIU’s win last week.
“Their guys are opportunistic,” NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said. “Their guys are flying around and they’re creating a lot of problems.”
ISU is now 5-3 and are on a three game winning streak.
“Southern Illinois is playing extremely well,” Bohl said. “The team has got a lot of talent and has overcome a lot of adversity early this year.”
However, the Bison will be ready. The Herd is coming off a compelling 54-0 win against South Dakota last Saturday. NDSU is 6-1 overall and have a 3-1 record within the Missouri Valley Conference. Junior quarterback Brock Jensen accounted for two passing and two running touchdowns and led the attack for the Bison, and moved into second place in school history for passing yards in a career.
The defense for the Bison played phenomenal, holding USD to only 76 yards of offense.
“We played well last week,” Bohl said. “We’ll need another performance like we had last week to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Home field advantage will be big help for the Bison. They are 17-3 in the last three years at the Fargodome. However, in the six games played between these teams, the Bison and Salukis have broken even at 3-3. Playing at home will be even more in favor of the Bison, as they are undefeated against USI at home. Last year, NDSU edged out the Salukis 9-3 for a tough win.
“We struggled last year,” Bohl said. “Typically you’re not going to win games like that, so we certainly need to execute better.”
Starting sophomore wide receiver Zach Vraa, junior wide receiver Cooper Wahlo Jr. and junior safety Bryan Shepherd will be out due to injury. However, NDSU’s other starting wide receiver, junior Ryan Smith, will be back at both receiver and punt returner for the Bison.
NDSU will need big plays to win this game. If the Bison can stay healthy and dash out of the gate aggressively, then they have a great chance to win this game. However, the most important component for NDSU will be keeping ISU’s offense from getting any momentum for the game will be especially vital for a victory.
“You can play defense that helps maintain and create momentum, which is something we’ve been able to do this season,” Bohl said. “We’ll need to do that to have a chance to win Saturday.”
Quotes are courtesy of GoBison.com