Imagine winning 39 games in a row. The thought of losing a game is unfathomable. North Dakota State came into the wild spring debut with plenty of confidence. Even without their starting quarterback Trey Lance — a victory was expected on Saturday. But that was not the case. Southern Illinois pounced the Bison 38-14 in their Missouri Valley Football Conference spring season opener.
Missouri State Faces An Angry Foe Saturday
Now the Missouri State Bears will attempt to give the Bison two straight losses in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Ironically, the Bears sit in second place after North Dakota beat South Dakota on Thursday 21-10. The Bears are the only other team undefeated in the Missouri Valley Football Conference as of today. They’ve only played one conference game but a win on Saturday would send shockwaves through the Missouri Valley.
Still, this is a lot to ask and the Bears are huge underdogs at home. The last time Missouri State beat the Bison was back in 2010 3-0. The last two meetings they lost by a combination of 70-7. So this win would be monumental to say the least.
The Bears will want to keep this game low scoring. With that, the rushing game has to keep the ball moving forward. Last week, they rushed for 155 yards on 45 carries against Western Illinois. While this average was only 3.4 yards per carry, it kept the ball moving and the clock.
Time of Possession
A shootout with North Dakota State surely doesn’t seem like a winning formula with a young freshman quarterback. Although Jaden Johnson made improvements last week — he’s only throwing on 53% completion percentage with one touchdown against six interceptions. Still, North Dakota State has the edge here. Quarterback Zeb Noland is a senior and is a transfer from Iowa St. with a lot more game experience than Jaden Johnson. Noland is the replacement for standout quarterback Trey Lance who opted out of the spring season for the NFL Draft.
Lance will most likely be a first round and could even move up in the top 10. Regardless, the game Missouri State wants to play is a low scoring game in the 20’s, giving the Bears the best chance to upset the Bison. The last meeting in 2019 the Bison beat the Bears 22-0.
The Bison ran for 236 yards on 43 carries. Most of the damage done by running back Adam Cofield with 98 yards on 22 carries and 2 touchdowns. Although quarterback Trey Lance chipped in with 80 yards on 8 carries and one touchdown. The Bears can ill afford to give up that kind of yardage on the ground again, or it will be a long day.
Rushing Defense Stopping The Big Play
The one bright spot for the Missouri State Bears in the receiving department last week against the Western Illinois Leathernecks was wide receiver Damoriea Vick pulling in six catches for 138 yards. One catch went all the way for 74 yards. So if the Bears do some passing look for Vick to make some plays.
Ultimately, this game is going to be a huge challenge on Saturday for Missouri State. If the Bears can chew up the clock they have a chance. Albeit a very small one. In addition, the Bears will have to play a perfect game with zero turnovers. There’s little chance, if the Bears cough up the ball inside their own territory. Every point is going to matter too. Any field goal has to be a make. Not to mention, special teams need to be swarming downfield to try and flip the field. If the game can be close going into the fourth quarter, the Bears should be ecstatic. Anything can happen as we saw in week 1 in the spring season.
(Main photo courtesy College Football News)