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UND football primer: How to watch, injuries to know and matchups for No. 10 Fighting Hawks against No. 5 North Dakota State

UND and North Dakota State kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Alerus Center.

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UND running back Otis Weah celebrates his 74-yard touchdown run in the first period of the Missouri Valley Football Conference football game against the N.D. State Bison at the Fargodome on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

How much can change in less than 200 days?

That's the question for No. 10 UND and No. 5 North Dakota State to answer when the teams meet Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Alerus Center -- the first rivalry meeting in Grand Forks since 2003.

The Bison beat the Fighting Hawks by 21 in the March matchup in Fargo.

UND says experience was gained in the first rivalry game of the Missouri Valley Football Conference era.

"I think a lot of the younger guys that were newer last year didn't really know much about the rivalry," UND nose guard Jalen Morrison said. "I think this year guys are more fired up."

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Fighting Hawks coach Bubba Schweigert said his team needs to draw from that experience.

"We think we're a little more mature," Schweigert said. "Hopefully, we've also developed some depth in the first three weeks that can help us here in the conference opener against a team we know has a lot of depth and can keep bringing a number of guys at you."

UND takes a 12-game home winning streak into Saturday. The streak is the third-longest active home winning streak in the FCS, behind only James Madison and Eastern Washington.

The game is a sellout, with more than 12,000 fans expected to fill the Alerus. Although UND saw more than 12,000 fans in two games early in the 2017 season, the atmosphere Saturday might not be something Grand Forks has seen since the 2003 UND-NDSU game.

Both UND and NDSU are coming off bye weeks. North Dakota State has won 34 straight games after bye weeks in the regular season and postseason. The streak includes 19 home games, seven road games and eight national championship games in Frisco, Texas.

In order to challenge the Bison, UND wide receiver Garett Maag said the Hawks need to be more physical.

"I believe that if we play physical, we can come out with the 'W,'" Maag said. "We have to play a clean game and do what we do best and our best is good enough."

Playing more physical was a common phrase used by UND players and Schweigert this week. NDSU, notorious for a powerful offensive line, ranks No. 1 in the FCS this week averaging 348.3 rushing yards per game. The Bison are the only team in the FCS averaging over 300 yards per game on the ground and also lead all of Division I with 7.92 yards per carry.

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UND gave up more than 300 yards to the Bison in the March meeting in Fargo.

"We've got to play better," Schweigert said. "You have to play physical and know your assignments. The better prepared you are, the faster and more physical you can play and our guys have to be up for that challenge."

No. 5 North Dakota State at No. 10 UND

Kickoff: 2 p.m., Saturday.

Where: Alerus Center.

TV: WDAY (GF Channel 8), Dom Izzo play-by-play, Kyle Emanuel analyst; Midco Sports (GF Channel 27), Alex Heinert play-by-play, Ryan Kasowski analyst.

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

Streaming: ESPN-Plus .

Betting line: North Dakota State -10.5, per 5Dimes and SportsBet.

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Injuries: With the help of a bye week, UND should enter the game pretty healthy. One injury to watch is wide receiver Garett Maag, who pulled up on a deep ball at Idaho State in Week 1. He's battled that hamstring against Utah State and Drake. He's been effective but perhaps not his usual explosive self. At quarterback, Quincy Vaughn, who routinely takes snaps behind Tommy Schuster each game, was shaken up on an upper-body injury after he fumbled against Drake two weeks ago. Vaughn is expected to be available against the Bison. Another long-term injury UND fans have been monitoring is center Peyton Lotysz, who was the starter at the beginning of fall camp but has been sidelined all season with an injury. Lotysz is unlikely to play against NDSU.

The Fighting Hawks will win if the Alerus Center magic can tilt the scales from what we've seen in the Fargodome in the Division I era. UND will need to start fast to engage the Grand Forks sell-out crowd. In the last few years, the Bison have dominated at the line of scrimmage and UND will have to show it can stop the run first. That might leave UND exposed in the secondary, but the Fighting Hawks will have to take those chances if it wants to get NDSU to have to throw the ball a little bit. Offensively, UND is going to have to play better up front than it has through three weeks. The interior of the offensive line will likely dictate the outcome. UND offensive coordinator Danny Freund is known for his creativity but there's only so much trickery that can overcome a deficiency on the offensive line.

The Bison will win if they continue to dominate the line of scrimmage against UND. Defensively, NDSU will look to expose UND's inexperience on the interior of the offensive line and make it difficult for the Hawks to gain traction with UND's most explosive player, running back Otis Weah. On the other side of the ball, the Bison ran for more than 300 yards by almost exclusively running their fullback against UND in the spring. If that's not scary enough, NDSU is probably more complete this fall with a dual-threat quarterback in Quincy Patterson.

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