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2012 Football Opponents: Eastern Washington
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Updated: Friday 07/12/2012 16:25:59 (ET)
by UNDsports.com
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Throughout the summer, the UNDSports.com staff will take a deeper look into the 2012 opponents for the North Dakota football team as it embarks on its first season in the Big Sky Conference.

By the time Oct. 5 rolls around, there is a good chance the members of the North Dakota football team will know what to expect when they arrive at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash., for their customary pre-game walk through.  

If not, they'll be in for a big surprise as a red artificial playing surface will greet them as they file out of the team buses. Hopefully, the novelty of such a rare field will wear off quickly during the brief time at the stadium and the focus can return to the Eagles, who will be the opponent awaiting UND the next day at 7:05 p.m. CT.

It will also be an opponent that is only a year removed from a 2010 FCS National Championship, but fifth-year head coach Beau Baldwin and his Eastern Washington squad missed out on the playoffs last season after finishing 5-3 in the Big Sky and 6-5 overall. Four straight losses to open the season were what cost the Eagles in the end as they won six of their last seven.

But what made the year even more disappointing was that senior quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell put together a good enough statistical season to win the Walter Payton Award, which is given annually to the best player in the FCS. He threw for 4,009 yards and 33 touchdowns as the Eagles' offense churned out 82.3 percent of its Big-Sky leading 447.4 yards of total offense per game through the air.

The tall task will be for Baldwin to replace the signal caller, but the head coach will not have to worry much about the dynamic trio that quarterback will ultimately have on the receiving end. Three current EWU receivers have garnered some form of All-America honors during their career. 

Senior Nicholas Edwards is coming off a record-breaking season where he caught a school-record 95 passes for 1,250 yards and a FCS-leading 19 touchdown passes. He was named a first team All-America by seven different organizations and a second team honoree by two others.

Junior Brandon Kaufman is back after missing last season due to an injury. He was a first team All-American in 2010 when he helped lead the Eagles to the national title with 76 receptions for 1,214 yards and 15 scores. Edwards (first team) and Kaufman (second team) were both named pre-season All-Americans by The Sports Network.

Not to be overlooked is senior Greg Herd, who was a second team All-Big Sky selection in 2011 after catching 67 passes for 1,022 yards and seven scores. He was a Beyond Sports College Network honorable mention All-American as well.

Defensively, the Eagles were sixth in the Big Sky a season ago, allowing 30.2 ppg and 411.9 yards of total offense to their opponents. Junior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin is the team's top returning tackler after registering 85 stops last season (t-12th in the Big Sky).

EWU will also have to replace senior placekicker Mike Jarrett, who made 16-of-18 field goal attempts in 2011.  

Did You Know?
This will be the first meeting between Baldwin and UND's Chris Mussman with both serving as their respective team's head coaches, but they have been on opposing sidelines four previous times.

In 2000, UND defeated Central Washington 52-7 in the season opener at the Alerus Center with Mussman serving as the offensive line coach and Baldwin as the Wildcats' quarterbacks coach.

In 2001, Mussman had been elevated to offensive coordinator, while Baldwin remained the quarterbacks coach in a 17-14 victory for UND on the road.

In 2002, Central Washington would take its only victory in the all-time series (UND leads 6-1) with 43-7 win as both coaches served in the same capacity as the year before.

In 2007, Baldwin returned to Central Washington as the head coach following a four-year post at Eastern Washington as the Eagles' offensive coordinator. It would also be Mussman's final season as the O-coordinator before he took over as head coach at UND in 2008. The Sioux would hand the Wildcats a 35-28 setback in a season that saw both teams lose to Grand Valley State in the Division II playoffs.

UND has traveled to the Evergreen State four different times and came away victorious each time.

All-time results in Washington

2001 at Central Washington (17-14)
2005 at Central Washington (44-20)
2006 at Central Washington (28-14)
2007 at Western Washington (63-42)

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