The 3-1 North Dakota State Bison face their rival 1-3 South Dakota Bison this week. Their nicknames aside, there’s not much too similar between the schools. The North Dakota State program has been utterly dominant over the last decade, and even seeing them lose in Week 1 was a shocking development.
Meanwhile, the South Dakota Bison have stumbled their way through the first month of play. Their roster is young and underdeveloped. Just playing competitive games has been a moral victory.
We have your predictions and NCAAF picks in our breakdown.
North Dakota State Bison vs. South Dakota Coyotes
Saturday, March 27, 2021 – 2:00 PM at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium
How South Dakota Can Win
What stood out the most in the Coyotes' first win was how well their passing defense and passing attack worked against Illinois State. Freshman quarterback Carson Camp averaged about 11 yards per completion for 221 yards and two touchdowns in his debut for the program. The 6'3", 215-pounder looked every bit the part of a potential star for an offense that may have been uneasy handing the reins to such an unproven talent.
Camp continually found big gains, though, which is the opposite of what many freshman passers do at the collegiate level. Four of his receivers had a long reception over 23 yards, and that type of chunk production will give his team the chance to win every week.
Special teams and defense picked up the team the rest of the way. With a whopping four interceptions and three fumbles recovered, the Coyotes certainly made the most of their opportunities. It's hard to imagine they'll ever see so many chances to earn takeaways as this game.
Some of that is hard to replicate and is surely unpredictable. The Redbirds still threw for 280 yards on only 15 completions, and totaled 150 yards on the ground between their two top rushers. The defense had to overcome their own issues to not defeat themselves.
Things have continued to go downhill since their opening win, though. The offense has stagnated with a young cast and Youngstown State pulled away with a convincing win in their last matchup. Seeing North Dakota State right now is bad news.
Camp and his offensive line need their best game of the season. The Bison have won three straight and are looking more comfortable with their new cast of starters on both sides of the ball.
How North Dakota Can Win
The Bison don't have an effective nor efficient passing game yet. They're trying to fill Trey Lance's large shoes, but the running game has been phenomenal. Tailbacks Hunter Luepke and Dominic Gonnella hit their stride last week in a blowout win against North Dakota. They totaled 273 yards and three scores on 40 carries.
The dominance of the Bison's offensive line has continued to be the demise of their opponents this year. Wearing down the defensive front will be their plan of attraction once again. South Dakota can't stop the run, and therein lies how this game will be won or lost.
It's key that NDSU avoids entering a pass-heavy gameplan based on how poorly that approach has worked this year. It's not all on Zeb Noland, who completed just five-of-13 passes last week for 127 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. The line hasn't been nearly as good in pass protection and the scheme hasn't been as effective at springing open receivers as prior years did.
There's not a quick fix for their passing game but they don't need one this week. For your best bets, watch for the Coyotes to roll onward in a dominant win and cover this big spread.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.