There are two sides to the Nickel Trophy as it pertains to this website: the side with Dom’s face on it and the side with my face on it, the latter of which hasn’t been seen in the off-season for it seems like a decade. I’ll give my comrade props; he’s beaten me at the wire with the annual Pick ‘Em contest, the weekly selections of mostly FCS games around the country in the last couple of years, maybe more.
This is our annual preseason picks segment, where we try to forecast NDSU’s season record and results of each game. The Bison look to be loaded, even without standout defensive end Greg Menard who is out for the season with an ACL. Defense was the ticket to Frisco from 2011-15 — the Bison had some stout offensive weapons but nobody was more consistent on the defensive side in that span than NDSU. And it appears that D is capable this year of getting back to the FCS title game. For starters, linebacker Nick DeLuca is the best defensive player in the FCS and an argument could be made the best player in the division at any position. Nate Tanguay is in the conversation for best defensive lineman in the league and the secondary is veteran and pretty good.
The Bison gave up an average of 16.6 points per game last year; I see that coming down in the 12 to 13 range this year. If that’s the case, all the offense needs is two to three touchdowns a game and statistically you have a very successful season. Moreover, this team seems more mature with bigger junior and season classes. On to the picks:
- Mississippi Valley at NDSU. The Bison by a bunch.
- NDSU at Eastern Washington. Too much new with EWU in the offseason, Bison by a touchdown.
- Robert Morris at NDSU. See Game 1.
- Missouri State at NDSU. Good Valley start for the Bison.
- NDSU at Indiana State. See EWU game, only Bison by 17.
- NDSU at Youngstown State. Always a tough trip, but Bison by a field goal.
- Western Illinois at NDSU. WIU improving, but not enough for this game.
- Northern Iowa at NDSU. Always a blood bath, home team wins this one.
- NDSU at SDSU. Tough game to follow UNI, Jacks will be waiting. SDSU by 10.
- USD at NDSU. Bison depth better than USD’s late in the season.
- NDSU at Illinois State. Tough finale but not sold on Spack’s offense in the post Roberson/Coprich era.
So there you have it, 10-1 and a first round bye in the FCS playoffs.