North Dakota Fighting Hawks
Location: Grand Forks, ND
Coach: Bubba Schweigert 6th season (30-27)
Stadium: Alerus Center (Capacity: 12,283)
2018 In A Sentence: UND moved from the Big Sky Conference to the Independent ranks starting last season and while still playing a predominant Big Sky schedule, the Fighting Hawks slipped to 6-5 after making the FCS playoffs in 2017.
Biggest Shoes to Fill: RB John Santiago was a three-time All-American selection and departed UND as one of the premier players in program history. He amassing over 3,700 rushing yards and 6,500 all-purpose yards to place third and second, respectively, all-time in program history.
Key Player: DE Mason Bennett paced the Fighting Hawk defense with 9.0 sacks. He finished just two sacks shy of the single-season record for sacks at UND. The now-senior also led UND with 15.0 tackles for loss and seven quarterback hurries.
Fearless Prediction: While missing a star in Santiago, UND still returns a total of 17 starters when counting all three areas of the ball. This will be UND’s last season as an Independent before joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference next year. UND plays five teams that made the FCS playoffs last year so it will play one of the sub-division’s toughest schedules. With the experience coming back, UND will likely outpace the six-win total from a season ago and very well could challenge if it gets a few breaks for a playoff spot.
Originally from LaMoure, North Dakota, Kent is a 1996 graduate of North Dakota State University. His prior writing experience is over 15 years having previously worked with D2football.com, I-AA.org, and College Sporting News before coming to College Sports Journal in 2016. His main focus is college football is the Missouri Valley Football Conference within the Division I FCS. And in 2017, he began also to look at the FBS Group of Five conferences of the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.
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