Two teams desperately needing a win will be locking horns this Saturday out in Colorado.
North Dakota, coming off a devastating 25-21 loss to Idaho State last week, currently has a 2-2 record and a daunting upcoming schedule. To drop this game and fall to 2-3 would be a near-fatal blow.
Northern Colorado currently has an 0-4 record and wants nothing more than to beat their long-time rival, which would give them their first win of the season and ease tensions around Greeley.
The Bears have actually played solid football this season despite their record. They have been in every game and a few bounces here or there could easily have them at 2-2.
They opened the season at home vs. #10 McNeese State but struggled to get their offense going losing 17-14. Kind of a typical ugly first game for both teams.
The next week they traveled to South Dakota and fell 43-28 in a game that was much tighter than some media let on. It was a 34-28 game with 8 mins left in the fourth quarter. UNC put up 450 yards of offense but gave up 635. However, they did lose star QB Jake Knipp for the season in this game.
Sitting at 0-2 the Bears returned home to face an upstart Sacramento State (2-2) squad that is playing pretty good football. UNC backup QB Keaton Mott took over the reigns of the offense from the injured Knipp and had a nice day, going 26-43 for 310 yards and 2 TD’s. Unfortunately, the Bears once again came up short losing 28-25. The offense played very well again dropping 450 yards of offense.
Last week UNC headed out to #6 Weber State and once again, played pretty well overall but lost 45-28. Like the USD game, they were only down by 7 in the middle of the fourth quarter but couldn’t come up with a stop or get in the end zone to turn the tide.
Why we recapped their season is very simple: this is a decent football team that is desperate for a win. They have lost two games by a total of 6 points and in their minds could have easily won both.
The recent history between these two programs has been a one-sided affair. UND has beaten Northern Colorado five straight times and always seems to matchup well with the Bears on both sides of the ball.
October 7, 2017 North Dakota – 48-38 in Grand Forks
November 5, 2016 North Dakota – 23-13 in Greeley
November 14, 2015 North Dakota – 45-14 in Grand Forks
November 22, 2014 North Dakota – 33-14 in Greeley
November 9, 2013 North Dakota – 24-21 in Grand Forks
One little caveat to the above results is that the game is typically played later in the season. Depth issues have plagued the Bears in past years, which definitely could play into their late season results. This years game will be the earliest in long time meaning UNC could be a healthier unit. Time will tell.
Head Coach Earnest Collins has been able to upgrade the talent in Greeley over the past few season. Case in point is WR #81 Alex Wesley. The reigning 400 meter champion in the Big Sky Conference is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. Already through four games Wesley has an astounding 23 catches for 518 yards and 2 TD’s. That’s an average of 22 yards per reception, which is unbelievable.
Photo courtesy of Brian Smith – University of Northern Colorado.