UND football treating South Dakota matchup like the playoffs – Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — With two weeks left in the regular season, the UND football team has a little wiggle room when it comes to a berth in the FCS Playoffs.

The No. 19 Fighting Hawks host South Dakota at noon Saturday at the Alerus Center with a seventh win on the line.

Seven NCAA Division I wins has typically been the benchmark for inclusion in the FCS Playoffs, although not always as the Hawks learned in 2015.

“We treated last week like a playoff game, and we’re treating this week like a playoff game,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. “We just have to be locked in to what you can control and take it one day at a time. I’m really proud of our team and how we come to the meeting rooms and practice field and then how we apply that on Saturday. This is a huge game for us. We have a lot of respect for our opponent.”

USD enters with a 3-6 record, although the Coyotes have won two of their last three including home wins over then-No. 14 Southern Illinois and Missouri State.

The Yotes, who are 0-5 on the road this year, haven’t won in Grand Forks since 1985 — span that includes some wild back-and-forth games with UND.

“It’s a big emphasis in November,” UND’s Quincy Vaughn said. “Going into this game, everyone realizes what’s at stake. Getting this done at home is really important.”

The Yotes’ running game is a two-headed attack with Travis Theis and Shomari Lawrence.

UND struggled in a 20-13 loss at South Dakota last season as Theis ran for 138 yards.

South Dakota has made a change from last season at quarterback.

After seven games this year, USD made a change to redshirt freshman Aidan Bouman.

Bouman, an Iowa State transfer and son of former NFL quarterback Todd Bouman, has thrown for 609 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in his three games.

Bouman, at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, can also extend plays with his frame and athleticism.

“I’m really impressed with the way the Coyotes play,” Schweigert said. “We need to do a better job defending the run this year. Bouman has given them a real boost, and they have really quality receivers.”

The Yotes have struggled against the run this year, giving up 191.1 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 10th in the Missouri Valley.

South Dakota has also had trouble protecting the quarterback. The Yotes have given up 31 sacks, which ranks 10th in the Missouri Valley.

After South Dakota, UND closes out the regular season at No. 4 North Dakota State.

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