The Herd look to inch closer to the longest winning streak in FCS history
This Saturday, the top-ranked NDSU football team will host Western Illinois in the Harvest Bowl. The Herd is 40-2-2 all time in the Harvest bowl, while Western Illinois is making its second ever Harvest Bowl appearance.
The Bison are currently riding a 30-game winning streak, which is the second longest in FCS history behind the 33-game winning streak the Bison had from 2012-14. The winning streak doesn’t look like it will come to an end on Saturday, as last year the Herd blew out Western Illinois 34-7.
Western Illinois is sitting at the bottom of the conference in ninth place in the Missouri Valley standings with a record of just 1-8 on the season. However, the Leathernecks are coming into the Harvest Bowl with a little bit of momentum coming off their first win of the season over South Dakota.
Western Illinois has struggled in all facets of the game this season. They have been outscored by about 14 points per game this season. The Leathernecks have only scored 22 touchdowns on the season, with 13 of them coming from the air.
The Leathernecks are led by quarterback Conner Sampson who is coming off a big game against South Dakota. Sampson lit up the Coyotes to a tune of 368 yards and three touchdowns. They have a couple key targets in the passing game in wide receivers Dennis Houston and Tony Tate, who have combined for 57 catches for 825 yards and five touchdowns on the season.
NDSU’s offense should have great success against the Western Illinois defense as the Bison’s strength is running the football. The Herd average 288 yards on the ground per game and Western Illinois gives up about 192 yards rushing per game. Look for the Bison to come out and try to run the ball all day long.
This could be a game where Bison quarterback Trey Lance can pad his passing numbers as Western Illinois has given up an average of 255 passing yards per game. Although the Herd want to establish the run, they could come out and throw the ball early to help open up the run later in the game.
The Bison defense has been great all season long as they have given up only 11.7 points per game. They should be able to shut down a below average Western Illinois offense who isn’t even average 20 points per game.
As long as the Bison show up prepared on Saturday, they should see their winning streak improve to 31 games.