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Youngstown State vs North Dakota State Preview

In this Youngstown State vs North Dakota State preview, YSU must win if they hope to make the playoffs. NDSU tries to keep their undefeated record alive.

Before we look at the Youngstown State vs North Dakota State preview let’s see what happened last week. Last Saturday, the Youngstown State Penguins bounced back to beat the Western Illinois Leathernecks 59-14 to earn their first conference win after three consecutive conference losses.  Big keys to that game were that the Penguins ended up putting 45 points up at halftime. The two points were scored by running back Joe Alessi, while Jermiah Braswell had two touchdown passes.  One was a 40-yard pass from Nathan Mays, and the other one was a 54-yard touchdown pass from Joe Craycraft who just got rid of the ball before getting hit.  

Speaking of quarterbacks, Mays had his biggest game so far as a Penguin.  Mays may have only went 10-17 with 182 yards, but he had a career-high four touchdown passes in the process.  One of those was a hail mary to Kendric Mallory right before halftime. The Penguins are now 5-3 and 1-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Western Illinois dropped to 0-8 and 0-4 in conference play.  

Youngstown State vs North Dakota State Preview

The Penguins cannot rest as this week is their biggest challenge yet. The No. 1 ranked North Dakota State Bison come into the Ice Castle.  The Bison are coming off a 23-16 win against rival South Dakota State at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium where College Gameday hosted.  

The Bison were down in that game 6-3 but took the lead in the early third when Ty Brooks rushed it in for a 59-yard touchdown run making it 10-6.  Quarterback Trey Lance then found tight end Ben Ellefson for a six-yard touchdown making it 16-6. The Jackrabbits came back thanks to a Chase Vinatieri 40-yard field goal and a Keaton Heide three-yard touchdown run.  The Bison had the last say when Josh Hays picked off backup Jackrabbits quarterback Heide with 4:57 to go in the game. Then on a fourth and one, Adam Cofield took it to the house 71 yards as the Bison improved to 8-0.  

Defensive Players to Watch

This big game will have a lot of good athletes to look out for.  For North Dakota State to continue being strong on offense, the line will have to block really well, especially with guys on defense like Justus Reed. Reed has had a good bounceback year so far as he was out for the season last year.  This season he has had 30 total tackles, and nine sacks.

Other players to watch are Ma’lik Richmond who has 33 total tackles and two and a half sacks. Zaire Jones has 40 tackles, two interceptions, and one fumble recovery. Also, Cash Mitchell has 31 total tackles, seven and a half tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and fumble recoveries, and a sack on the season.  Further, there is Bryce Gibson with 18 total tackles on the year, and Ray Anderson with 41 total tackles and one fumble recovery.  

Senior linebacker Mitchell, when asked if this game was like a super bowl type of game to them, told the media per Youngstown State’s youtube channel that “It’s a big game like that, cause we have to know what to do to beat these guys.”  He followed up by saying how they have to have a good week of preparation and practice, along with how this team is beatable.  

Keys to Stopping the NDSU Offense

These defensive players will have to stop a North Dakota State offense that ranks 14th in total offense with 528 plays and 3,692 yards during the first and now the start of the second-half season.  The biggest part has come in the rushing game as they rank fourth with 2,341 yards on 373 rush attempts. The Penguins will look to shut the run game down this Saturday, but it will not be an easy task.  If YSU stops the run game, then they have a very good chance at winning since North Dakota state ranks 101th in passing.  

Offensive Players to Watch

Youngstown State is pretty much the same as North Dakota State on offense, as both use their running backs.  Alessi has been the key back this season after the Penguins rotated him and Christian Turner in the first few games of the season.  Now, they are giving the ball off more to Alessi who has not been a disappointment. One key thing to look at in this game is if Mays will be healthy enough as he has been banged up the last three weeks with leg injuries and nearly went out last week again.  

The players to look for on Youngstown State’s offense besides the quarterback and running backs are the wide receivers as they have been a huge impact this season for them.  One of those receivers is Mallory who was mentioned earlier. Mallory this season has had 11 receptions for 184 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest being this past weekend with the Hail Mary catch in between three defenders.  

Ryan Emans has 20 receptions for 203 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. Further, tight end Miles Joiner has 16 receptions for 259 yards and two touchdowns. Braswell has five touchdown receptions and 449 yards receiving. Finally, Samuel St.  Surin is in the mix as well with 13 receptions for 214 yards and one touchdown. All three, and the other wide receivers in the rotation hope to make a big positive impact on the game. Youngstown State ranks 45th in total offense this season.  

The Last Time YSU Beat NDSU

The last time Youngstown State ended up beating North Dakota State was back in 2011 at the Fargo-Dome.  Before that game, the Bison were undefeated. The Penguins quarterback at the time Kurt Hess, threw for two touchdowns in the game, while kicker David Brown, gave YSU the go-ahead score with 2:49 left.  YSU would win 27-24. The last time the Guins beat them at home was 2008 with a score of 32-24.  

Youngstown State will also wear helmets with the throwback cursive penguins logo, followed by numbers on the side as well.  Last time they used those classic throwback helmets (with no numbers), was against Stony Brook back in 2007 where they won 42-6.  Youngstown State vs North Dakota State will be a 6:00 pm game on ESPN plus.


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