This week’s Game of the Week has been six years in the making. North Dakota State’s faithful fans have been waiting for revenge ever since the Bison’s quarterfinal loss involving a controversial call on the road in 2010. Despite five FCS championships in a row starting in 2o11, this game has been circled on their calendars since it was announced.
The AGS community overwhelmingly voted this as the Game of the Week (75% of the votes) and the teams did not fail to deliver. It was a back and forth game with the largest lead of the game being held by the Bison at 21 to 7 in the 2nd quarter. The teams traded scores for most of the 2nd half before heading to a brief overtime period that featured only 3 total plays. On the second play of overtime EWU quarterback Gage Gubrud overthrew a crossing route and was intercepted by Tre Dempsey. The Bison finished the game off with a 25 yard scamper by Lance Dunn on their first offensive play to seal the 6 point victory.
Eastern Washington only held one lead in the game when Tamarick Pierce scored a 1 yard rushing TD with 4:32 left in the 4th quarter. This gave their defense the chance to hold on and secure the victory, but Easton Stick led the Bison on a 71 yard drive that ended with a 28 yard game tying FG with under one minute left. EWU would have one last chance. The Eagles kicker, Jordan Descalo attempted a 49 yard FG with six seconds left, but the errant kick never had a chance as it went short and wide to the left forcing the teams to head to overtime.
The Eagles offense performed well in Fargo: Three time All-American, Cooper Kupp, had five catches for 62 yards and two first half touchdowns before a shoulder injury led him to miss most of the second half. Gubrud was 26-40 for 450 yards and 4 TDs, but his 3 interceptions were the big story of the day with one being returned for a touchdown with 9:29 left in the 4th quarter and the other ending their chance to score during their overtime possession.
For the Bison, Dunn amassed 128 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. Easton Stick threw for 2 touchdowns, no interceptions, and hit 8 different targets for 257 yards through the air and picked up 60 yards on 10 carries. The Bison offense converted 71% of their 3rd downs.
The season opener was the first overtime game the FargoDome had seen and now the Bison have had back to back overtime games at home. Luckily for the NDSU fan base, both games ended up going their way.
The Bison continue their momentum as the 5-time champions who have not lost a game since week 6 of the 2015 season. They head to Iowa City at 2-0 to take on the 13th ranked team in FBS, the Iowa Hawkeyes. NDSU is not quite in post season form yet, but Iowa has a tendency to be overrated. I think the Bison have a chance to escape Kinnick Stadium with a win. Even if they do lose, NDSU would still be in control of their own destiny for a top 2 seed come playoff time.
Eastern Washington has to bounce back with another tough game. The Eagles head back home to Cheney, WA to host the UNI Panthers. Northern Iowa is bouncing back from a tough loss to the Montana Griz. Both EWU and UNI have FBS wins over an in-state rival and both will be looking to build some momentum for the conference season. I’d call it a toss up.