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UND FOOTBALL: After loss to No. 6 SDSU, UND now focus on No. 11 Montana

Monday was an off day at Memorial Stadium for UND football players. It was time probably spent recovering from a physical football game against No. 6 South Dakota State two days earlier. And it also was a day to start thinking about what's ahead ...

UND sports logo

Monday was an off day at Memorial Stadium for UND football players.

It was time probably spent recovering from a physical football game against No. 6 South Dakota State two days earlier. And it also was a day to start thinking about what's ahead -- another game in the early season UND gauntlet.

Montana, ranked No. 11 in this week's national FCS poll, will take on UND on Saturday at the Alerus Center. The Grizzlies, who were off last week, opened the season with an impressive 30-6 win against Appalachian State two weeks ago.

"It doesn't get any easier," said UND coach Chris Mussman.

Montana likely still remembers last season's game against UND -- also at the Alerus.

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UND turned in a record-breaking performance in a 40-34 win over the Griz. Receiver Greg Hardin set Big Sky Conference and UND single-game records, catching 12 passes for 333 yards. And quarterback Braden Hanson threw for 660 yards, also a school and conference record.

The Grizzlies had an off season in 2012, finishing 5-6. Losing records are not acceptable in Missoula, which has been one of the power bases in the FCS for a number of years.

Though the programs are in the Big Sky, Saturday's game will be a nonconference matchup. This will be a return game by the Griz, who hosted UND in 2010 when North Dakota was not a member of the Big Sky.

Through the first two weeks of the season, it's becoming clear that Big Sky teams can score, quickly and often.

Three Big Sky teams -- Portland State, Eastern Washington and Idaho State -- rank 1-2-3, respectively, in FCS total offense. Portland State is averaging 612.5 yards per game, while Eastern Washington is at 611.

And both have played Pac-12 schools, with Eastern beating No. 25 Oregon State and Portland State pushing Cal to the limit.

UND ranks eighth in FCS total offense, while Montana is No. 9 -- meaning making key defensive stops will be critical by both teams in Saturday's game.

Against Montana, UND also will be looking to clean up its game and hang on to the ball. North Dakota committed 10 penalties for 107 yards and committed three turnovers in its 35-28 loss to the Jacks. The turnovers led to 14 SDSU points.

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Another thing to watch this week will be who starts at quarterback. Ryan Bartels started against the Jacks, but Joe Mollberg sparked a fourth-quarter comeback that had SDSU on the ropes in the closing minutes.

UND returns to practice today.

"We have to get over it because we have another good team coming to our house," said Hardin.

Up next

Who: Montana at UND.

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Alerus Center.

TV/radio: MidcoSN (Channel 27, GF); The Fox (96.1 FM).

Records: UND 1-1; Montana 1-0.

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Of note: Montana is ranked No. 11 in this week's FCS poll.

Nelson reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1268; or send e-mail to wnelson@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: UND FOOTBALL
Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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