This week the Hawks get a chance to solidify their spot in the Top 20 rankings with a trip out to Ogden, Utah to take on the mighty Weber State Wildcats.
WSU is sitting at 7-2 on the season and are coming off a dismantling of the #5 Sacramento State Hornets 36-17 in SacTown.
Weber is what they typically are – a run-first, multi-faceted offense that likes to control things with through methodical play and let their defense slowly take over the game. The defensive line of Weber State is very big and very physical, averaging 278 pounds across the line. They are only allowing 20 pts/game on the season.
The Wildcat defense has been tremendous all year and it starts with takeaways. They are +14 on the season in turnover margin, which is good for #2 in the country. They also have 26 sacks, which ranks them #14 in FCS.
The offense has been getting better by the week as QB Jake Constantine has returned from injury. When he was out Weber scuffled a bit early vs. Nevada, UNI, and SUU due to Kaden Jenks running the show. Since returning, Constantine has led them to 51, 36, & 36 points in their last three games.
The Wildcat offense averages 353 yards per game and is very balanced – 169 through the air and 184 on the ground.
RB Josh Davis is their workhorse in the backfield with 132 rushes for 899 yards and 9 TD’s. Davis gave UND fits last season in Weber’s 35-30 victory at the Alerus Center. He rushed for 115 yards on 28 carries and 1 TD.
This is going to an extremely tough game for UND. Weber seems to be clicking at the right time after a tough early season schedule (two FBS games) and also appears to be healthy for the most part.
If UND can get Jalen Morrison back that will help immensely vs. the physical Wildcat OL. The other question marks are Cam McKinney and Jaxson Turner and we probably won’t know much until game time.
The storyline of Eastern Washington being a “below average” team as Dom Izzo and other media members have tried to promote is absurd. EWU is 4-0 at home and 0-5 on the road. They are averaging 53.5 points/game at home. 53.5 – think they are a different team at home this year?
The Eagles losses on the road are to: Washington (5-4) – Jacksonville State (6-3) – Idaho (4-5) – Sac State (6-3) – Montana (7-2). A combined record of 28-17. Are the Eagles the team that went to the national championship last year? Nope. But they sure as hell aren’t “below average”. BTW, Massey ratings have them at #17 overall.
The bottom line concerning playoffs is this – UND needs to get to 7-4 minimum. We predicted 7-4 before the season started and it certainly is attainable. They also could use the following things to happen in the next three weeks:
- Eastern Washington to win their last three games (ISU-Poly-PSU). This would give them a 7-5 record and makes the loss look a bit better. Very possible.
- Sam Houston State to win out and make the playoffs. Bearkats are 5-4 currently but have an NAIA win, meaning they need to go 3-0 vs. @ ACU, Northwestern State, Houston Baptist to get to 8-4. 7-5 bare minimum to give UND a quality win.
- UC-Davis (4-5) to finish strong and get to 6 wins, which gives them a .500 record. They have @PSU, MSU and @ Sac State left, which will be a tough slate of games.
- Montana State to win at least two of their next three games. A high-quality win would be good but at some point we need to worry about teams taking at-large bids away from UND. Alot depends on how the other 4-5 loss teams from other conferences perform in next two weeks. MSU has @ UNC, @ Davis and home vs. Montana left on the schedule. If they beat Montana they most certainly will get in, which would probably be good for UND I guess.
- Drake (4-4) to finish with a winning record. Three games remaining vs. Jacksonville, Dayton and @ Davidson.
- The Idaho State loss officially looks awful no matter how we dress it up. When you lose to UNC at home….yah.
Photo courtesy of Weber State Athletics – https://weberstatesports.com/sports/football