NCAA Football

Bison returns to streak-breaking spot against familiar QB – InForum

FARGO – Nine regular season games down, two Missouri Valley Football Conference games for the state of North Dakota. The stakes keep rising.

That’s expected to be the case Saturday in southern Illinois on a few fronts: NDSU will be looking for a top eight seed and a first-round bye in the Division I FCS playoffs. And Bison will have to do that against a team that is playing for its life in the playoffs. SIU is 5-4 overall and needs to beat NDSU and Youngstown to close out the regular season. He has an FBS win by defeating Northwestern from the Big Ten Conference.

The Salukis will be the second team this season that the NDSU is playing after a week off after Youngstown State in early October.

“I predict that there will be some things that are new or that don’t happen very often this year that we’re going to have to be prepared for,” said NDSU coach Matt Entz. “Or make some adjustments on the sidelines. You turn them on in the movie and you can immediately tell they have some good athletes.”

One of them is quarterback Nic Baker, who leads the Missouri Valley in submissions with 206. At 1.75m and 90kg, SIU coach Nick Hill called Baker “unconventional,” a look that has been tough on defenses. opponents.

NDSU can relate. Baker had 17 of 23 passes for 254 yards in the Spring 2021 season, a 38-14 SIU win that ended a 39-game winning streak for Bison, the longest in FCS history and the third longest in Division history. i.

Baker was 23 of 32 in last season’s FCS quarterfinal game at Gate City Bank Field at Fargodome, but he wasn’t as effective in NDSU’s 38-7 win.

“As much moxie as any quarterback in the league right now or any of the quarterbacks we’ve played,” Entz said. “He plays from almost every possible arm opening. He makes few negative plays, finds open receivers, so it will be a challenge.”

What makes Baker dangerous is his ability to escape pressure and still find an open receiver. He burned NDSU on a couple of occasions in the streak breaking game doing this. Which, by the way, will be the NDSU’s first trip to Carbondale, Illinois, since that game.

“I’m sure a lot of them are going to bring it up or at least think about it internally,” Entz said of his players. “I don’t think I need to.”

NDSU improved to 7-2 overall with a 56-17 win at Western Illinois last weekend. Bison have SIU and the University of North Dakota remaining in the regular season, with both teams vying for playoff spots.

“This is the biggest of the year for us right now because it’s the next one,” Entz said. “It would be disrespectful to Nick and his team because we don’t start thinking about things beyond Saturday.”

Bison pitched senior running back TaMerik Williams against Western Illinois with 12 carries he took for 120 yards and two touchdowns, just the second time this season that Williams has been in double-digit carries. He was named Missouri Valley Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career.

Bison had 10 players with at least one carry and ran for a season-record 453 yards in cold, windy conditions. Southern Illinois’ game might not be much better with a predicted high of 43 degrees and 10-20 mph winds.

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