North Dakota State’s opponent to start the 2016 FCS Playoffs is a great unknown to Bison fans, the University of San Diego. The Toreros stunned Cal Poly last night, running all over the Mustangs in a 35-21 win. USD racked up 473 yards in tough conditions to give the Pioneer League its first postseason victory.
Here’s what you should know:
- San Diego is red hot. The Toreros (a bullfighter by the way) have won nine straight. I don’t care what competition you play on a regular basis, you’re playing good football. And if you’re one of the last sixteen teams still going, you’ve done something right.
- Running back Jonah Hodges leads the way offensively for USD. Hodges ran 35 times for 171 yards and three scores in the win over Cal Poly. He’s averaging 119 yards a game with 15 touchdowns heading into the postseason. Anthony Lawrence is the quarterback, completing passes at a 68 percent clip, throwing for 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
- San Diego has played football since 1956, its most prominent time in the sun, prior to last night, was when current Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was the head coach. He coached the Toreros from 2004-2006, posting a 29-6 record, including back to back 11-1 seasons, he then left for Stanford after that.
- The one thing that will jump out among fans is that the University of San Diego is a non-scholarship school. The Pioneer doesn’t sponsor scholarship football, and since the league received an automatic playoff berth in 2013 has not fared well in the postseason, getting blown out three times, including San Diego at Montana in 2014. The league’s commissioner is Patty Viverito, who serves as commissioner of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
- This will be the second game against a Pioneer League team for NDSU, the first was the first Division 1 game, August 28th, 2004 against Valparaiso. The Bison won that game, 52-0. NDSU has a future game scheduled with a Pioneer team, Butler in 2019, the game that will be played at Target Field.