Football Preview: UNC at Montana State

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The University of Northern Colorado football team heads to Bozeman, Montana for a cold and possibly snowy showdown with the Montana State Bobcats.

To say there have been significant struggles from UNC this season would be an understatement.

Supposed to be star Collin Root has struggled all season long at kicker and punter, Jacob Knipp had his third season ending injury, play calling either shines or stinks, Marshaun Cameron went down for the season days before McNeese and the Bears top heavy schedule of ranked opponents for the majority of their schedule have brought them to a 2-8 season so far.

The seniors tried their hardest senior day, but there is only so much a battered and disorganized team can do with mounting mistakes and lingering injuries.

UNC has had a statistically poor season, but there have been moments of greatness. For the seniors and fans alike a win at Bozeman could be one last high note to end the season on and re group for next year.

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What to Expect

While the Bears have not had a balanced or evenly matched game in a while this game looks to be competitive. The Bobcat defense is very balanced, but not necessarily good at stopping points.

UNC needs to utilize their running back duo (Hall and Riek) and their receiving trio (Wesley, Fairman and Warren) evenly, with some blocking and receiving action from Theron Verna at tight end.

The Bears will need all available weapons firing at full strength to pull off the Bozeman upset Bears fans are hoping so desperately for.

What can the defense do? Stelzner, Nelson and Morris need to be on rushing and coverage duty of scramble quarterback Troy Anderson all day long.

If the Bears can eliminate Anderson or Isiah Ifanse from running away from the defense then Boyd and Swopes should have an easy time deflecting and intercepting the lesser passing offense. 

Big Sky Recap

Weber State continued to stay in the top of the conference with a 12-point win over Sacramento State 26-14 in Ogden, Utah.

Dalton Snead and the Griz slaughtered the SUU Thunderbirds 57-14 in Cedar City, Utah with five touchdown passes.

UC Davis raced past the struggling Lumberjacks as they celebrated a home win of 42-20 and an 8-1 record with no conference losses yet.

Cal Poly made Montana State work for their win via the success of Freshman running back Isiah Ifanse in a 49-42 win in Bozeman, Montana.

Idaho beat former Big Sky foe North Dakota by a blocked punt and fourth quarter spark of success leading to a 31-27 win and a 4-0 home record.

Idaho State had some trouble stomping out the Portland Vikings, but Gueller’s five touchdowns helped propel the 48-45 narrow road win.

Other Important FCS Games

  1. No. 15 Towson 6-3 at No. 8 Elon 6-2
  2. No. 6 UC Davis 8-1 at No. 5 Eastern Washington 7-2
  3. No. 2 Kennesaw State 8-1 at Monmouth 7-2
  4. Sacred Heart 6-3 at Duquesne 6-3
  5. No. 13 Delaware 7-2 at No. 16 Stony Brook 6-3

The Mirror’s Keys to the Game

Defense:

  1. Stop the Run: While it is a broken record, the Bears must be vigilant about the run as the Bobcats are a run heavy team.
  2. Third and Fourth Downs: The Bears need to emulate the bend part of “bend don’t break” defense.
  3. Force them to Pass: If the Bobcats are restricted to passing the game will be low scoring and an interception or two could win the game.

Offense:

  1. Get Wesley Yards: With this his last game and it rare to have such a talent on a team Wesley deserves one last big game since 31 yards against EWU was disappointing.
  2. Give Trae and Milo Options: Mix up the run game, but do not abandon it.
  3. Score Early: The Bears confidence has boded much better when they were scoring early and often.

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