Fittingly enough with this cold front, it will be the Penguins visiting the Herd
Valentine’s day is over, snow and frigid weather have walloped states all around the country and the NDSU football team is about to play their first game of the season. Sure, why not.
The Bison football team will play the first game of their shortened, eight-game conference-only schedule this Sunday as Youngstown State comes to town to take on the defending champs.
This matchup is intriguing for a number of reasons. For starters, this will be Youngstown State head coach Doug Philips’ first game as the Penguins headman. Bison head coach Matt Entz noted the importance of being able to adapt to any new or unseen schemes Philips and his staff may try to throw at the Herd.
“We’re going to have to be ready to adjust and adapt as the game unfolds and as we kind of see how they want to attack us.”
That being said, Entz also knows that it’s important that his team takes care of what they can control first.
“The team that will beat us first will be us, we’ll beat ourselves first. If we can’t establish the run game, if we can’t play defense the way we want to play, it doesn’t matter what other teams do.”
One of the players who will play a big part in the Bison finding early season success is Bison signal-caller Zeb Noland. With Trey Lance NFL bound, Noland, former Iowa State transfer and now senior leader for the Herd is set to make his first start in an NDSU uniform this weekend.
Entz mentioned that Noland, as most great quarterback’s need to be, has been a leader for the Bison both on, and off the field.
“Just at practice you see positive energy, you see the starting quarterback trying to coach, help other players. He’s another coach on the football field,”
Entz continued on Noland, “Off the field a tremendous leader, guys gravitate towards him. But part of that is anytime you have the title of quarterback, especially QB1, there’s a tendency for kids to gravitate towards you, but it’s great when you have a leader that’s in that spot for you.
The Bison head into Sunday after being picked to win their staggering 10th straight Missouri Valley title in the preseason coach’s poll. A 10th straight title would tie the Bison with BYU for the third in most consecutive conference titles in the history of Division I football.
Also on the line this game, and this season, is NDSU’s 38-game winning streak. The Bison now sit just nine wins behind the Oklahoma Sooner’s 47-game winning streak back in the mid-1950s. A perfect regular-season run through the regular season and playoffs would secure the record for the green and gold, but that’s still months down the line.
If the Bison are to keep their winning streak, they will have to do so without junior wideout Phoenix Sproles. Sproles has been nursing a knee injury he suffered back in the Central Arkansas game in October. Entz said Sproles has been lifting and running, but not yet changing direction, and that he has his “fingers crossed” that his veteran WR will be back this spring.
Kickoff is at 2:30 CT Sunday from the friendly confines of the Fargodome.