NDSU And UND Opponents Embracing Opportunity To Match Up
Both Eastern Washington and Missouri State discuss how they're preparing for North Dakota State and North Dakota, respectively
FARGO, ND (KVRR) – Eastern Washington heads into the playoffs at (5-1), the 2nd time they’ve been there in three years. The last one? A loss to the Bison in the 2019 FCS Title game.
“Some of those guys have that memory in 19′”, said head coach Aaron Best. “Some of those guys played in that 17′ game here. There are certain things we can learn from it. We can take some things away but there is a lot of new personnel.”
After dropping this year’s opener, the Eagles won five in a row, wracking up more than 40 points on average. It earned the Big Sky squad an at-large bid into the 16-team tournament. Now, they start the playoffs on the road for the first time since in eleven years.
“Yea, why wouldn’t you have it any other way,” Best said. “Make it more interesting. That’s what we’re used to That’s going to allow us to build on preparation when we hit adversity for years to come.”
They head to the Fargodome with the top offense in all of D1.
“Going to Fargo, it’s going to be an awesome atmosphere,” said linebacker Ty Graham. “I’ve heard nothing but great things. I’ve never gotten the experience to go play there but I’ve heard awesome things about that dome.”
In Grand Forks, it’s a different story. Missouri State comes to town with the top 3rd down defense in the Valley along with the 11th most takeaways and 13th best red zone defense in the nation.
“You can’t say enough about our defense,” head coach Bobby Bobby Patrino said. “Our defense is what has carried us to this point.
These two aren’t far removed from almost playing each other in the last week of the regular season. Though the Bears prepared for it then, they’re going back to the drawing board, especially with it being Bobby Patrino’s first game against the Fighting Hawks.
“We’re going to have to handle their defense pressure,” Patrino said. “They’re a team that likes to blitz a lot, more than anybody else we’ve played all year long. Then, we’re going to have to stop a very effective and hot quaterback and a great run game.”
For Missouri State, it’s their first FCS playoff appearance in 30 years. For both North Dakota squads, it’s two teams they’ll have to figure out if they’re to live to see another game in 2021.