CSJ’s 2018 Week 6 Game Preview: North Dakota State at Northern Iowa

When: Saturday, October 6, 1:00 PM CDT
Where: UNI-Dome, Cedar Falls, Iowa
TV/Streaming: NBC North Dakota/CFU,KCRG,KGCW,KCWI in Iowa/NBC Sports Chicago/ESPN+

North Dakota State Bison (4-0 overall, 1-0 MVFC)

North Dakota State makes its first road trip of the year after four home games in the first five weeks of the season. The Bison won its first three out-of-conference games easily before being tested in its MVFC opener against rival South Dakota State. NDSU won a tight game 21-17 to win the Dakota Marker trophy after losing the last two such contests.

This is the 52nd meeting between NDSU and UNI dating back to 1938. UNI leads the series 26-25 but NDSU has won four straight and seven of the last eight including last year’s 30-14 victory in Fargo. UNI’s last win in the series was 23-3 at the UNI-Dome in 2014. The Bison are 2-3 in Cedar Falls since joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2008.

NDSU leads the MVFC in red zone defense this year allowing opponents inside the 20-yard line only four times with one touchdown and one field goal. This week’s opponent, Northern Iowa, is a perfect 16 of 16 scoring in the red zone with 11 touchdowns so something will have to give in this contest. NDSU has converted 16 of 18 red zone chances with 14 TDs and two field goals.

Key Player: QB Easton Stick boasts a career record of 38-3 and is 2-0 against the Panthers but in those two games, he’s thrown for only 254 yards and two touchdowns against four interceptions with a paltry 41-percent completion rate. He will need to be better than this as this will likely be the key for the Panther defense against him.

Fantasy Bonus Baby: RB Lance Dunn will be making his final regular-season appearance in the UNI-Dome. The senior, who is from nearby Waterloo, Iowa missed last year’s 30-14 Bison win in Fargo because of a hip injury is NDSU’s second leading rusher through four games with 35 carries for 213 yards and three scores. In his last game with the Bison in Cedar Falls, Dunn rushed 23 times for 118 yards in 24-20 win in 2016. Look for him to be big with some home friends and family watching.

Northern Iowa Panthers (2-2 overall, 1-0 MVFC)

UNI has won both sides of the line of scrimmage in back-to-back shutout wins over Hampton and Indiana State. The two straight wins come after two straight losses to begin the season for the Panthers against Montana and FBS Iowa on the road.

The Panthers have averaged 228.5 yards rushing per game in its last two games, while the two shutouts are the first time UNI’s defense has down that in back-to-back games since 2008.

UNI snapped the Bison’s 33-game win streak inside the UNI-Dome in 2014, which is the last time UNI defeated NDSU.

Key Player: QB Eli Dunne is in his senior season but started off 2018 rough. Dunne though has turned around after the first two game. He threw three touchdown passes against Hampton and was steady against Indiana State last Thursday. He will need to be a big threat as the NDSU defense is very strong against the run so the passing game will be key for a Panther upset.

Fantasy Bonus Baby: Sophomore RB Trevor Allen led the way for UNI last week in its win at Indiana State with 180 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Look for him to be involved both in the running and passing game for UNI in this one.

Fearless Forecast: With this being NDSU’s first road game against a very formidable amount like UNI, one would think that this might be the trap game for the Bison as in five of its six national title teams a loss has come along the way. But given that NDSU is coming just off a close win over one rival, the chances of overlooking its next rival is small. I think this game will be close all the way and probably will come down to the final possession though as these teams are fairly close in talent level. I will take NDSU by four. NDSU 27, UNI 23

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