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UND football Week 12 primer: How to watch, injuries and matchups with North Dakota State

The Fighting Hawks and Bison play at 2:30 p.m. in Fargo on Saturday.

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UND quarterback Tommy Schuster gets into position in the second quarter of a Missouri Valley Football conference game against NDSU at the Fargodome on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — North Dakota State's home venue of the Fargodome can mess with opponents, fueled by noise that can make it difficult to call plays and get off on the snap.

UND will enter the hostile atmosphere at 2:30 p.m. Saturday with one of the Missouri Valley Football Conference's youngest offensive lines.

The good news for the Fighting Hawks? UND has been flagged for the fewest penalties per game in the entire FCS.

UND is averaging 3.33 penalties per game.

"Our guys have done a good job getting in the right mindset and controlling what we can control," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said.

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That clean play has allowed the Fighting Hawks to rank No. 5 nationally in time of possession.

UND averages about 34 minutes in time of possession this season. The Bison have traditionally done the same, ranking No. 32 in time of possession nationally this season.

With clean play and long drives, it's no surprise both UND and NDSU are ranked high nationally in third-down conversions.

The Bison are No. 3 in the FCS with a 53.9 conversion rate, while UND is No. 15 with a 46.8 conversion rate.

A year ago, UND started league play against North Dakota State. It was a time both teams were figuring out an identity.

This year, the teams meet to end the regular season.

"If you look across the country, a lot of places end with this type of game," Schweigert said. "If it was my choice, but it's not my choice, I'd say we should do it every year."

No. 16 UND at No. 4 North Dakota State

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m., Saturday.

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Where: Fargodome.

TV: WDAY, Dom Izzo play-by-play, Kyle Emanuel analyst, Logan Campbell sideline.

and

Midco Sports, Brian Shawn play-by-play, Ryan Kasowski analyst.

Radio: 96.1 FM (Jack Michaels on play-by-play, Tom Dosch analyst, Paul Ralston sidelines)

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Streaming: WDAY Sports Plus and ESPN-Plus

Injuries: UND's latest injury came before last week's game against South Dakota when Peyton Lotysz went down during practice. That thrust Danny Carroll back into the starting lineup. Carroll started earlier this season until snapping issues plagued the redshirt freshman. Other season-ending injuries for UND include linebacker Caden White and safety Sammy Fort. Long-injured running back Luke Skokna has started to practice more and saw action on special teams the last two weeks.

The Fighting Hawks need to keep quarterback Tommy Schuster upright. The Hawks have given up 22 sacks this year, and it has only been an issue in two losses — Southern Illinois and South Dakota State. Schuster was sacked 12 times combined in those two games. Schuster is at his best when he's extending plays, so it's a dangerous line to toe for the Hawks' offense. Defensively, stopping the run against the Bison is always where you have to start because NDSU wants to establish the run first. Cam Miller is a capable passer and the Hawks will need their secondary to play their best game of the year. The defense struggled to get off the field on third down last week against South Dakota. If UND doesn't see the special teams bail the team out again this week, the Hawks defense needs to do better on third down this week.

The Bison need to force UND's secondary to tackle in space and not allow special teams to change momentum like UND has done against South Dakota and Youngstown State. NDSU receivers had 0 yards receiving in the tight win over UND last fall, and that'll need to be very different if the Bison are to be successful on Saturday. That's not to say the run game won't be important. The Bison may be a little beat up with injuries but NDSU can always lean on a dominant offensive line. While UND's struggles have come in the secondary, the Bison have a lot of experience up front and will test the UND front seven. Left guard Nash Jensen will start his 66th straight game on Saturday.

Related Topics: UND FOOTBALLUND SPORTS
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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