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Are You Afraid?

by Dan Gunderson

In the last two plus seasons, the North Dakota State University football team has proven time and time again that fans should not worry about the opponent. This year’s biggest concerns as far as teams go, Kansas State University, South Dakota State University and University of Northern Iowa, all were conquered.

The Bison have three games remaining with home dates against Illinois State University and the University of South Dakota and a road game against Youngstown State University. Of those three teams, the YSU Penguins scare Bison fans the most.

In this post, I have included five teams that should scare Bison fans, why they shouldn't scare Bison fans and rank them from most to least scary.

5. Youngstown State University Penguins 8-1 (5-0)

The reason this team scares me is because this is the only team in the last couple seasons to beat NDSU because they were the better team. Indiana State University beat NDSU last year yes but that is due more to the fact that NDSU shot themselves in the foot.

The Penguins are led by a solid senior quarterback in Kurt Hess, have a very balanced offensive attack and have found ways to win close games within the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

The reasons they don’t scare me is they have yet to beat anybody good outside of Southern Illinois University, they fumble the ball a lot, 17 times so far this season, and are giving up 401 yards of offense per game.

Also, NDSU plays them away from the Fargodome and we all know NDSU just does not lose on the road. Do not think for a second that NDSU has not been preparing for YSU just a little during the bye week. It is their last regular season roadblock before the playoffs. They will be prepared.

4. Eastern Washington University Eagles 7-2 (5-0)

The reason this team scares me is because Vernon Adams Jr. Vernon Adams Jr. is a scary quarterback because he can beat you both with his arm and his legs. He is the reason this offense is one of the most prolific in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Of their 47 offensive touchdowns, Adams has had 39 of them. EWU has the best win for an FCS team over an FBS team (Sorry NDSU) this season with their 49-46 win over then ranked Oregon State University. In that game, Adams accounted for 518 yards and six touchdowns, including the game winning touchdown.

The reason they don’t scare is the team does not play defense. They are giving up 41 points per game, which is more than they are scoring per game, and are giving up nearly 200 yards per game on the ground.

They also are negative eight in the turnover margin category and have faced a ton of third downs, 113, so far this season. There are just too many negatives about this team when it comes to efficiency and defense that NDSU could throttle them with ease.

3. Eastern Illinois University Panthers 8-1 (5-0)

The reason this team scares me is because they’ve played, and won, against some solid teams this season. EIU plays in the Ohio Valley Conference. Not exactly a juggernaut when it comes to FCS conferences. However, EIU has played two games against MVFC teams, both wins against Illinois State and SIU, and played FBS school Northern Illinois University to the wire in a 43-39 loss earlier this year.

Remember these two names as well:  Jimmy Garoppolo and Erik Lora. Garoppolo, who will most likely win the Walter Payton Award this season, has thrown for 3,544 yards and 39 touchdowns. Lora has caught 87 passes for 1,152 yards and 16 touchdowns. These two can dominate you and that scares me.

The reason they don’t scare me is because they score way too fast. Against anybody else, this is a dumb argument and I would be flogged for suggesting so. (I will be waiting for Jeff Kolpack to rip me for it later this week) However, against NDSU, the reason they beat teams is because they control the ball for so much of the game.

Let us say that NDSU keeps EIU from scoring on four possessions in a half. That could be over half of your possessions for a half. Add to the fact that NDSU dominates the time of possession, especially in the second half, the chances for EIU to come back is going to be very slim. I know this is an odd argument but I think it works for explaining why EIU does not scare me.

2. Montana State University Bobcats 7-2 (5-0)

The reason this team scares me is because the players and fans want to play NDSU. I know I wrote about how MSU would try and avoid NDSU but let us get real for a second here. The fans were upset that the powers that be pulled the early season matchup between NDSU and MSU.

You know the players couldn’t have been happy. They not only wanted to pay NDSU back for a loss in the 2010 playoffs but they wanted to see how they stacked up against the best in the nation. Coaching becomes easy at this point because you don’t have to worry about lack of concentration when it comes to preparing for this game. The team will be ready.

The reason this team does not scare me is because they have rarely played to their potential the last three seasons. Since 2010, the Bobcats have entered the playoffs with two or less losses each regular season. In every one of those seasons, they have made it no further than the quarterfinals.

This year’s starting QB for the Bobcats, DeNarius McGhee, has a 2-3 record in playoff games. Frankly, McGhee is not a good playoff quarterback and the Bobcats have not been a good playoff team the last three seasons. They would be prime for yet another let down if they were to face the Bison in the playoffs.

1. Sam Houston State University Bearkats 7-2 (3-1)

The reason this team scares me is because they are the most familiar with NDSU out of any non-MVFC team in the nation. They have also run the gauntlet of the FCS playoffs back-to-back years to play in back-to-back national title games.

Players like quarterback Brian Bell, Tim Flanders and Richard Sincere are still as big of contributors offensively as they were as sophomores in 2011. It is tough to beat a team three times in a row, especially on the biggest stage the FCS has to offer.

The reason they don’t scare me is because they are not physical enough to beat NDSU. They can beat teams out of the Big Sky all day but when it comes to trying to man up against the offensive and defensive lines of NDSU, they fall very short.

Last year was very evident to me how much stronger NDSU is than SHSU. By the time the Bearkats entered the fourth quarter, they were giving up chunks of yards per carry. The Bison would frankly just wear down Sam Houston and be running all over them by the end of the game.

You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.