The Bison look to move on against Illinois State
After a successful 37-13 win against the Nicholls State Colonels this past weekend, the Bison are on to the next round of the FCS playoffs. The Herd will be facing off against fellow Missouri Valley Conference team, Illinois State. The matchup will be right here in Fargo at 11 a.m.
Illinois State, the Redbirds to be exact, is coming to play the Bison after their win against Central Arkansas. They won on the road with a score of 24-14 and had firm control of the game for most of the game.
There was no score from either team in the first quarter of the game. However, Illinois came to play in the second quarter. They scored three touchdowns in the second for 21 points, all rushing… and rushing just happens to be the strong part of their game.
This is all thanks to one player, James Robinson. Robinson is the Redbird’s stud running back. In the game against Arkansas, he rushed for 210 yards. This accounted for almost two-thirds of Illinois’s 329 total yards. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry in that game, and that’s even below his outstanding season average of 7.6 yards per carry.
On top of the yards, Robinson accounted for two of the team’s three touchdowns against Central Arkansas. That was a pretty nice game for the senior running back, but he’s very comfortable getting in the end zone. Over the course of the 2019 season, he’s averaged over one ticket to the house per game.
Robinson will be Illinois State’s biggest weapon, so the NDSU defense will have to focus on shutting him down. Luckily for them, they’ve faced against him early this season. While Robison had a decent number of yards, 112, the Herd stopped him from making it to the end zone.
In fact, they completely stopped the Redbirds from getting to the end zone at all. The final score in that early October game was 37-3, NDSU. That game was a big one for Bison quarterback, Trey Lance, and his receivers who scored three TD’s through the air.
NDSU also had two rushing touchdowns and 294 rushing yards including a big scoring run from Ty Brooks for 58 yards. The defense had four sacks that day and forced the Redbirds to punt on seven different occasions.
Toss in an NDSU kick return for 79 yards, and it made it quite the loss for the home team Illinois State. If this game plays in any way like it did last time, it will an easy sweep for the Bison, especially with them being at home in the Fargodome this time.
Nevertheless, NDSU still better prepare wisely. The game they last played together was the first of the regular season for both teams, and the Redbirds have done a lot of winning since. They’ve gone 7-2 since then including a big 27-18 win against South Dakota State.
Most of the time, throwing could spell danger for Illinois State with their quarterback Bryce Jefferson throwing more interceptions than touchdowns this season. The big task for both teams will be to focus on the rushing game. For NDSU, it will be stopping it on defense, and for Illinois State, it will be getting it going on offense.