What a historic weekend for college football in our state. I mean seriously, have you seen anything like it? People doubted the team, but in the end true fans knew that the program could pull off the historic victory.
Down by three touchdowns in the third, the University of North Dakota finally proved that the Big Sky is better than the Missouri Valley with a two-overtime triumph over South Dakota.
It was a win that set the sports world and social media world on fire. After all, they were the only college football in state playing. Right?
I regress, but what a season-saving victory it was for the Hawks. You may think I'm being dramatic. In my opinion, however, the team's chances of making the playoffs after three season-opening defeats would have been extremely difficult.
Now, UND sprints into the Big Sky Conference schedule with a huge come-from-behind win over an upstart program in South Dakota.
Despite a majority of the large crowd leaving the Alerus Center, the Hawks found a way to battle back. Thanks to a few huge turnovers and its consistent ground attack, UND forced overtime. The win is among coach Bubba Schweigert's biggest as a head mentor.
It helps soften the blow of the team's two losses to kick off the season. There's no doubt about it, it was a tough way to open up the year for North Dakota.
One feather in North Dakota's cap if on the bubble for selection into the playoffs will be its difficult pre-season schedule. Seen as a tune-up opponent early in the year, Stony Brook appears to be the real deal. After dominating No. 2 Richmond last week, the Seawolves are now nationally ranked. So, a close loss to Stony Brook doesn't look so bad on the Hawks' resume.
That coupled with a razor thin loss at the hands of FBS Bowling Green, it has been a very competitive start to the season for the green and the white.
With its conference opener coming up Saturday, I can honestly say I feel confident in UND going into a matchup against Montana State.
This is almost a brand new squad for the Bobcats. Between the firing of long-time coach Bob Ash, transfer of high-caliber quarterback and a large graduating season class, the 2016 squad has a new look to it.
With that said, new head coach Jeff Choate will have his team ready to go for its Big Sky Conference opener. After falling just short against FBS opponent Idaho, Montana State has won its past two games against Bryant and Western Oregon. Led back by running back Gunnar Brekke, the Bobcats will look to beat the Hawks at their own game.
In fact, I think this will be an intriguing matchup because of the similarities of both teams. This is a case of both teams whose offenses are fueled by its ground attacks. In the end, I think it's going to come down to who can find success through the air.
Will it be the two-quarterback attack of Montana State? Or will Keaton Studsrud find some consistency this season for UND?
North Dakota has a tough draw after three straight hard-fought contests. Not to mention, two of those games were on the road. Now, the Hawks hit the road to face a traditionally strong team in a hostile environment.
With that said, I think North Dakota is up to the task. If the team's dramatic win over South Dakota wasn't enough to give the Hawks confidence, I don't know what is.
Sophomore star John Santiago continues his dominance on the ground. Despite a rough spell during the game, the UND defense comes up with big plays and turnovers exactly when it needs to. The special teams game has been boosted by the solid punting of Austin Dussold.
North Dakota, who could easily be 3-0 on the year, is an up-and-coming program.
I expect a 27-20 win over Montana State on the road will be a rousing kickoff to the conference season for the Hawks.