It’s been a theme this week with general comments on this NDSU and Northern Iowa game: this will most likely be the Bison’s toughest matchup this season and for two reasons:
1) The Panthers were considered the King of the Valley before NDSU came aboard and UNI showed the Bison in 2008, 2009 and 2010 exactly why. Although none of those games ended in blowout-type losses, I never had the feeling the Bison were legitimate contenders to win any of those games. The ’10 game, for instance, ended just 16-9, yet UNI had double digits in quarterback sacks and dominated the lines of scrimmages. Times changed in 2011 and 2012, however, and anytime you get a good program that has had its pride hurt, they’re going to give it an extra shot of motivation this Saturday. So emotionally, the Panthers should have the advantage.
2) I’ll never forget that 2010 game, which was the season opener for UNI. The Panthers threw a defensive look at NDSU that nobody expected, the 3-4. Faithful followers of this blog know some of the struggles the Bison have had against the 3-4 over the years. As one great football mind emailed me today, the key will be for the Bison center to handle the UNI noseguard. Remember back when NDSU moved Austin Richard to center when the Bison faced 3-4 teams to help with the strength factor against the odd-number defensive line look. This year, NDSU has 270-pound Josh Colville at center and this will be the first go-around against the 3-4 for him at that position.
I also believe UNI quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen is performing like an all-conference quarterback, with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. NDSU is loaded this year, but in UNI, it will see a team very capable of beating it.