NDSU busted a couple of streaks on Saturday, a 2 year homecoming skid, 2 straight years losing to Illinois State and most importantly, a 3 year skid losing the Missouri Valley opener, which had put the Bison in a hole right from the start. The Bison are now one of 3 teams in ALL of FCS football to still be undefeated, joining top ranked Georgia Southern and Sam Houston State as the last remaining unbeatens. This is the best start for NDSU since 2007, when of course they started 10-0. It wasn’t the cleanest game on Saturday, but as a few coaches have told me a win is a win. Here are some of the main points I took away on Saturday:
- I mentioned on the pre-game show on WDAY.com with Jeff that both Bobby Ollman and John Pike needed to have the game of their lives facing a 3 year starter in Matt Brown. Both did, each registered 6 tackles, Ollman had a huge play with the 82 yard interception return for a touchdown that essentially sealed the win for NDSU.
- The entire secondary was fantastic on Saturday. Marcus Williams for the 2nd straight week had the game-changing play, the interception in the endzone and then the return to mid-field was fantastic, he and Christian Dudzik combined for 21 tackles against the Redbirds. Dudzik’s play must be brought up, he was terrific, he was one of the guys that had a huge question mark on him after Brendin Pierre was ruled ineligbile, Dudzik has stepped in and played great, he had 4 pass breakups and a tackle for loss.
- On the offensive side of things, Brock Jensen was steady again, 15 of 22 is pretty much perfect for the West Coast offense, 207 yards and most important: NO INTERCEPTIONS. That’s been one of the biggest reasons the Bison are 4-0.
- Not everything was smooth on Saturday, this was by far the sloppiest game the Bison had played to date, 13 penalties for 108 yards. And some were surprising penalties, Billy Turner I know got flagged for at least 2 false starts as did a couple of the offensive lineman. Craig Bohl admitted after the game, they were trying some new alignments and also said there was no way NDSU could continue it’s flawless football that they had played. When you look at the first 3 games, nearly no penalties, no turnovers,that’s not going to happen throughout the season. That also leads to my next point, NDSU fumbled twice, once on the Warren Holloway reception (which I thought gave ISU some momentum, because NDSU was heading into score) and when Jensen was sacked, he fumbled the ball. He was sacked 3 times on Saturday, which was the first time any team really has got pressure on the Bison QB.
- My last point I’m sure will stir the pot but it has to be brought up, what happened along the sidelines in the 4th quarter with Jensen. I watched the replay several times when I got back to the station on Saturday, when Jensen ran out of bounds, it certaintly seemed like he got his legs awkwardly tangled with the ISU defender. You can clearly see him kick at the ISU player, which he was flagged for (the personal foul), then he was talking to the referee and was flagged again(unsportsmanlike conduct). Here’s my point, 2 years ago Pat Paschall was suspended for the Northern Iowa game after throwing a punch during the melee on the sideline, which game I believe 2 or maybe 3 days after the game. That game, much like Saturday’s was televised, I’m curious if the league office has seen it and if there will be any punishment coming Jensen’s way for this week. Something that will definetly be addressed during Craig Bohl’s press conference today as NDSU travels to Southern Illinois on Saturday, a place where the Bison have mightily struggled.
Couple other items; Bohl indicated that Colten Heagle should return to the lineup this week obviously we’ll know more soon, Western Illinois’ QB Josh Hudson threw 4 TD passes against the SIU defense on Saturday, while Dale Lennon continues to rotate quarterbacks between Kory Faulkner and Paul McIntosh. Also 3 of the top 4 in the FCS coaches poll won Saturday, Appalachian State loss to Wofford (got that wrong in our pick em contest) Georgia Southern, UNI and Montana State won, interested to see if the Bison move up. A new Bison Video Blog taping today, should be up soon!