FCS Playoff First Round
Missouri State (5-4, 5-1 Missouri Valley) at North Dakota (4-1 Missouri Valley)
Site: Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota
Kickoff – 4 p.m. ET
TV Coverage – ESPN3
Series – Tied, 1-1 (last meeting: North Dakota won 34-0 at home on Sept. 9, 2017)
Coaches – Missouri State: Bobby Petrino (5-4, first season; 124-60 overall); North Dakota: Bubba Schweigert (41-33, seventh season; 62-54 overall)
3 Players to Watch – Missouri State: WR Damoriea Vick (40 receptions, 544 yards, 2 TDs), ILB Tyler Wiltz (75 receptions, 6 TFL), CB Jeremy Webb (34 tackles, 3 INTs, 6 PBUs); North Dakota: QB Tommy Schuster (100 of 153, 992 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs), RB Otis Weah (76 carries, 570 yards, 7 TDs), LB Devon Krzanowski (19 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 takeaways)
The Skinny – A scheduled conference matchup between these programs on April 3 was not played due to COVID-19 protocols at North Dakota. Both teams were surprising tri-champions in the MVFC, and North Dakota is the only school to hand a loss to the other champ, South Dakota State, which is the No. 1 playoff seed. Missouri State is making its first playoff appearance since 1990. Petrino can utilize two transfer QBs, Jared Johnson and Matt Stuck, who have both made three spring starts. Their receiving corps offers terrific size and depth. Both defenses like to go after the signal caller, with the visiting Bears already setting the school record with 27 sacks. UND, a first-year MVFC member, will be playing for the first time since March 20, but it owns a 10-game home winning streak. Weah and Luke Skokna form a superb 1-2 tandem on an offense that averages 206.4 rushing yards per game. Despite playing only five games, the Fighting Hawks have 16 players with 10 or more tackles.
Up Next – The winner will play either VMI or No. 3 seed James Madison in the second round on May 1 or 2.
Prediction – North Dakota 24, Missouri State 17