GRAND FORKS, N.D. - For the first time in series history, North Dakota and Montana will matchup on the gridiron as conference foes as the Griz venture to Grand Forks for the first time since 1973. The “Black Out” kickoff is scheduled for 2:40 p.m. CT and UND fans are encouraged to wear black as the game will be broadcast nationally on ROOT Sports.
• This will be the first meeting between the teams as conference foes in a series that dates back to 1915 when the teams played to a 10-10 tie in Grand Forks.
• The Griz have not to played on UND’s home field since a 31-10 loss in 1973. Montana owns a slight 4-3-1 edge in the eight games played on UND’s home field.
• The teams have met only once since the 1973 contest, playing in 2010 when Montana held off an upset-minded UND team 27-17 in Missoula.
• Both squads currently own identical overall (3-4) and Big Sky records (1-3) entering what will be their 20th meeting in the all-time series. Montana holds an 11-7-1 edge in those first 19 contests.
• The Griz were poised to be the fourth straight ranked opponent on UND’s schedule this season, but Montana dropped out of the FCS polls for the first time since the 1998 season (195 straight appearances) following a 32-26 loss to Eastern Washington on Sept. 29.
• Montana is one of the perennial powers in the Big Sky having won or shared the league title in 13 of the last 14 years. However, at 1-3 in league play, UM could lose four Big Sky games in a season for the first time since going 4-4 in 1990.
LIVE FROM GRAND FORKS
Fans wanting to follow all the action from Saturday’s “Black Out” game with Montana can do so in a variety of ways.
TV: ROOT Sports (DirecTV 239, 683 or 687 and Dish Network 414 or 426)
Radio: UND Radio Network (96.1 FM — Grand Forks) - pregame show at 1:30 p.m.
Audio: UND Radio Network broadcast also available at www.UNDSports.com
Chat: Director of New Media Matt Schill will chat live at www.UNDSports.com
Stats: Live stats will be available at www.UNDSports.com
Twitter: For live scoring updates and game notes follow @UNDFootball
LAST TIME OUT
No. 16 Northern Arizona quarterback Cary Grossart threw four touchdown passes and led an offense that amassed a season-high of 568 total yards in handing North Dakota a 45-38 Homecoming loss on Saturday. It was the third straight Homecoming setback for UND, who also saw its overall losing streak reach three games. After falling behind 14-0, the home team found its way back into the lead in the third quarter behind a trio of touchdown passes by senior Braden Hanson. The left-hander was making his first start under center since the season opener vs. SD Mines and finished 19-for-29 for 233 yards. The Lumberjacks had an answer, however, to the tune of 21 straight points as they won their fifth straight game. UND receivers Greg Hardin and Jameer Jackson both caught a pair of touchdown passes in the loss. Jackson also posted the first 100-yard receiving game of his young career as the redshirt freshman caught six passes for 105 yards. Senior Mitch Sutton added his ninth rushing touchdown of the season and had 10 carries for 62 yards.
MAGIC CARPET RIDE
• UND is 64-14 in 11 seasons at the Alerus Center, including a 10-0 mark in the DII playoffs.
• Head coach Chris Mussman is 18-7 all-time at UND’s home facility and improved to 3-0 in season openers at the Alerus thanks to the 66-0 victory over SD Mines on Aug. 30.
• In those 18 home wins under Mussman’s guidance, UND is averaging 32.0 ppg and the team is 16-2 at home when scoring 20 or more.
CAMERON, LEWIS HONORED BY CFPA
Senior Brett Cameron was named an honorable mention National Punter of the Week and junior Will Lewis earned the same distinction for National Defensive Back of the Week following their efforts vs. No. 16 Northern Arizona. Cameron averaged 43.5 yards on four punts, including a long of 50 yards. He also pinned two inside the 20-yard line. Lewis recorded a pair of interceptions, which were the first of his career, against an NAU team that had not turned the ball over since its season opener at Arizona State (four games). With those two picks, Lewis now leads the team.
RED ZONE SUCCESS
The North Dakota football team has ventured into its opponents red zone 28 times already this season and has come away with a touchdown on 21 of those occasions. The offense is scoring 92.9 percent of the time (also has five field goals), which is the third best mark in the Big Sky. The unit has come up empty only twice.
NEW LOOK DEFENSIVE LINE
Before the Northern Arizona contest, the last time defensive end Ross Brenneman and nose guard Devin Benjamin did not start along side each other during a game was the 2010 regular-season finale at South Dakota State. It was a span of 17 straight games for the senior duo, who missed their respective starts this past week due to injuries. Brenneman did not play at all, snapping a streak of 33 straight appearances and 21 straight starts. Benjamin did play in a reserve role, but saw his starting streak come to a close as well.
BY LAND OR AIR
After scoring 14 of its first 20 touchdowns through the air, the UND offense then went to the ground for seven of its next nine scores. The unit went back to the air to account for four of its five touchdowns in the 45-38 loss to NAU. The record for team passing touchdowns in a season was set in 2007 when UND accounted for 26 aerial scores — current running backs coach Danny Freund threw 24 of those, which is the individual single-season mark.
DID I HEAR A NINER IN THERE?
Senior Mitch Sutton and junior Greg Hardin share the team lead with nine touchdowns a piece. Sutton’s career-high nine rushing scores are tied for the Big Sky lead with Cal Poly running back Deonte Williams. Hardin’s nine receiving scores lead all Big Sky receivers and is tied for third in the FCS. He also had nine receiving touchdowns as a freshman in 2010 and has 21 for his career (third most in UND history).
YEAH, THAT WAS A NINER
Sophomore nose guard Ben Henson made the most of his first collegiate start, registering a career-high nine tackles vs. Northern Arizona. He shared team-high honors in that department with cornerback Chavon Mackey, who also established a new career-high. Henson’s previous career-high was three stops. He had five solo tackles in the contest to go with four assisted takedowns. The Lumberjacks gave the UND defenders plenty of opportunities for tackles in the contest, holding an 82-52 advantage in plays and a 39:05 to 20:55 advantage in the time of possession.
SUTTON SETS NEWS STANDARD
Senior Mitch Sutton scored six rushing touchdowns and added one receiving score in 2009, but over the next two seasons, the rugged running back only found the end zone twice. His fortunes have changed in his final collegiate campaign as Sutton has already produced nine rushing touchdowns through seven games. Sutton’s career-high rushing scores are tied for the most by a Big Sky back this season. Sutton has scored at least one rushing touchdown in five straight games, which is the longest such streak of his career. He had a career-high three rushing scores in the Big Sky opener vs. Sac State.
JAMEER CATCHING ON
A week after recording a career-high nine catches at Eastern Washington, redshirt freshman Jameer Jackson posted the first 100-yard receiving game of his career at home vs. Northern Arizona. Jackson finished with six catches for 105 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. Jackson is emerging as one of the top rookie wideouts in the FCS this season. Here is where he ranks among his fellow freshmen nationally:
35 Sean Hill, Appalachian State
33 Jameer Jackson, North Dakota
27 Spearmon Robinson, Western Carolina
488 Sean Hill, Appalachian State
453 Jameer Jackson, North Dakota
398 D.J. Ward, Stephen F. Austin
6 Sean Hill, Appalachian State
6 Jameer Jackson, North Dakota
THAT’s OUR SPECIALTY
North Dakota’s special teams unit blocked three kicks against Portland State on Sept. 8 to pick up where it left off from last season after leading the FCS with 10 blocked kicks.
Since moving up to the Division I level in 2008, the UND special teams have a total of 31 blocks.
Offensive lineman Shea Walker has added two more blocks to UND’s 2012 total since the Portland State game. UND is now tied for fourth nationally with five. Walker blocked a 52-yard field goal at Sac State and deflected an extra point at Eastern Washington.
STILL RUN FIRST
Despite racking up nearly 1,900 yards through the air in the first seven games, the UND offense has still attempted more runs (250) than passes (223) this season. That should come as little surprise for a program that has never attempted more passes than rushes in a season. What is surprising is the passing touchdown to rushing touchdown ratio through the first seven games. UND’s two fifth-year senior quarterbacks have thrown 20 scoring tosses, while the ground game has accounted for 13. Last season, junior Jake Miller led a ground unit that posted 19 rushing scores to only 12 scores by the UND signal callers.
Junior linebacker Dominique Bennett had 1.5 of the season-high four sacks the UND defense registered vs. Northern Arizona. Bennett has at least one sack in back-to-back games and now has a team-leading and career-high 3.5 sacks on the season. UND has totalled 14 sacks so far in 2012. Senior Ross Brenneman and sophomore Myles Jablonski each have two. For Brenneman, he now has 16.5 career sacks, which is tied for third on UND’s all-time charts.
HEAVE IT TO HARDIN
Junior Greg Hardin moved into a tie for second place on the UND’s regular season charts for career touchdowns and needs only 105 yards to become just the third receiver in UND history to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark for regular season receiving yards.
Here is a look at his 2012 season:
• Has 34 catches for 610 yards and ranks first in the Big Sky and in a tie for third in the FCS with nine receiving touchdowns.
• His 610 yards are the most by a Big Sky receiver in 2012.
• Hardin’s 87.1 receiving yards per game average is third in the Big Sky (20th in the FCS).
• Registered a career-high 190-yard receiving game vs. Portland State (Sept. 8), which was the seventh highest single-game receiving total in UND history and is the highest by a Big Sky receiver this season.
• All of Hardin’s 1,895 career yards have come in the regular season, which puts him seventh on the all-time chart and fourth on the regular-seaosn chart.
• The 100-yard receiving game against the Aztecs was the seventh of his career. He opened the season with three-consecutive 100-yard receiving games, marking the first time in his career he had achieved that.
• The three-touchdown contest against San Diego State was the third of Hardin’s career and second in a row. As a redshirt freshman, Hardin hauled in a trio of touchdown passes vs. Northwestern State. Hardin owns three of the eight three-touchdown receiving games in UND history.
• Hardin has equalled his career-high of eight receptions twice this season (at San Diego State; Sept. 15) and vs. Northern Arizona (Oct. 13).
NO. 84 makes espn’s top plays
Hardin made a 27-yard circus catch in the second quarter of the Portland State contest that led to one of five first-half touchdowns for his team. Hardin climbed over a six-foot-four PSU defensive back to make that grab, which was voted the No. 2 play on Sports Center’s Top Plays of the Day.
PETERS HONORED BY CFPA
Sophomore Ben Peters was named an honorable mention National Linebacker of the Week by College Football Performance Awards on Oct. 7. Peters collected a career-high eight tackles, registered half a sack and a tackle for a loss, plus forced a fumble at Eastern Washington this past Saturday. Peters is the 10th UND player to be honored by the organization this season.
QUITE THE DEBUT
The North Dakota football team went out to California’s capital city looking to make a statement on Sept. 22 and the team wearing all white uniforms did just that. UND defeated Sacramento State 35-13 in its Big Sky debut behind the powerful running of senior Mitch Sutton and a defense that forced three Hornet turnovers and stopped the Sac State offense on fourth down twice. The 22-point margin of victory was the highest-ever by a league team in its first Big Sky game dating back to the league’s inception in 1963. Sutton rushed for 162 yards and saved the first three-touchdown game of his career for a historic day on UND’s football timeline.
HEY, I KNOW YOU
North Dakota is the not the only newcomer on the block in the Big Sky this season. The league added both UND and Southern Utah as all-sport playing members this past summer, while Cal Poly - today’s opponent - and UC Davis were added as football-playing only members. All four of those teams spent the last four seasons playing in the Great West. Southern Utah and Cal Poly also won their Big Sky debuts last Saturday. The Thunderbirds rallied from an 18-point deficit to defeat Portland State 49-42, while the Mustangs also rallied from a double-digit deficit to knock off UC Davis 28-20 on their home turf.
Former North Dakota great and Minnesota Viking standout Jim Kleinsasser became the 98th football player in school history to be inducted into the UND Letterwinners Athletics Hall of Fame to the kickoff with Cal Poly on Sept. 29. Kleinsasser wrapped up his impressive career at UND in 1998 before being drafted by the Vikings in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He retired in 2011 after 13 seasons with the Purple and Gold and still remains the highest-drafted player in UND history. He was inducted into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
CAMERON HONORED BY CFPA
Senior punter Brett Cameron became the third North Dakota football player to earn national recognition from College Football Performance Awards this season after the organization named him its National Punter of the Week on Sept. 23. Cameron joined quarterback Marcus Hendrickson (Sept. 9 vs. Portland State) and wide receiver Greg Hardin (Sept. 9 vs. Portland State) in being named the top player at their respective positions in a given week. He averaged 47.4 yards per punt on five attempts, pinning three inside the 20-yard line and booting two of 50-plus yards.
HENDRICKSON, HARDIN MAKE HISTORY
Senior Marcus Hendrickson threw for 434 yards in the 49-41 loss to San Diego State, which was the second highest single-game total in UND history. He also became the first quarterback in school history to throw 10 total touchdown passes in back-to-back games. Three of his four touchdown passses went to junior Greg Hardin, who became the first player in school history to register back-to-back games with three touchdown receptions. Hardin now has 19 career receiving touchdowns in just 23 games, which is tied for the third most by a UND player in program history. Hardin equaled his career-high with eight catches and finished with his third straight and seventh career 100-yard receiving game (142 yards). He currently leads the FCS with seven receiving touchdowns and 42 points scored.
A week after netting the College Football Performance Awards National Quarterback and Wide Receiver of the Week, the duo were honorable mention honorees this week for those same awards following their efforts at San Diego State.
HENDRICKSON, HARDIN IN THE NAT’L SPOTLIGHT (WEEK 2)
Senior quarterback Marcus Hendrickson and junior wide receiver Greg Hardin shared the national spotlight in the FCS ranks following their record-breaking efforts in a 45-37 victory over Portland State (Sept. 8). Hendrickson was named the National Performer of the Week and Quarterback of the Week by College Football Performance Awards. He was also named the ROOT SPORTS Big Sky Co-Offensive Player of the Week and The Sports Network Co-Offensive Player of the Week. He was also named a Natioanl All Star by The College Sporting News. In his first career start, the right-handed signal caller went 16-for-25 for 294 yards and tied the UND single-game record with six touchdown passes. Five of those came in the first half. He also led the team with 50 yards rushing. Hardin was named the Wide Receiver Performer of the Week by College Football Performance Awards and also earned the NCAA.com Offensive Player of the Week accolade.Hardin equaled his career-highs in receiving touchdowns (three), while eclipsing his career-high with 190 receiving yards (six catches).
DOWN RIGHT OFFENSIVE
• The North Dakota offense churned out a school record 653 yards of total offense last Thursday in the team’s 66-0 season-opening win over South Dakota School of Mines. It was the most lopsided victory in program history since a 69-0 victory in 1972 over Morningside in North Central Conference play.
• Only Old Dominion, who totalled 723 yards in a 57-23 victory over Duquesne, had more yardage at the FCS level in week one.
• Four different running backs churned out 370 yards on the ground, which was the fifth most by a FCS team in the opening week. Junior Jake Miller led the quartet with a 178-yard effort on only 12 carries. He averaged 14.8 yards per tote, which was second among FCS running backs with double-digit carries (Indiana State’s Ezayi Youyoute, 14.9/c; 11 for 164).
• Redshirt freshman P.J. Sparks rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown in his collegiate debut. He reeled off the longest play from scrimmage for UND with a 45-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
• Eight players accounted for the nine touchdowns scored by UND with senior running back Mitch Sutton being the only one to score twice.
• The 66 points were the most in the Division I era by a UND team.
The quarterbacking duo of Braden Hanson and Marcus Hendrickson combined to put up the most efficient passing game in UND football history in the season opener versus South Dakota School of Mines. The fifth-year senior duet went 18-for-20 for 283 yards and four touchdowns to post a combined passer rating of 274.86. Hanson started things off by connecting on 13 of his 14 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. His only incompletion was on a throw away to avoid a sack. Hanson’s passer rating of 252.80 was the best single-game effort at the FCS level in week one. Hendrickson relieved Hanson midway through the second quarter and also only missed on one of his passes (six attempts). He finished with 95 yards, including a 44-yard scoring strike to Greg Hardin that was the first of his career. He added an 11-yard scoring toss to Blair Townsend to cap a 31-point second quarter.
Seniors Ian McGurran and Ross Brenneman will serve as the permanent team captains for the 2012 season. Both players were voted captains of the 2011 squad at the conclusion of the season as well. What made the designation even more special for McGurran is that his father, John, also served as a football captain on the 1982 UND team. The McGurrans become just the second father-son tandem to serve as UND captains after Glenn “Red” Jarrett and his son, James, were both captains as well. The elder Jarrett was a captain on the 1930 team, while James served as a captain for the 1959 team. McGurran is the only player on the 2012 roster to have started all 34 games since the start of the 2009 season. Brenneman has started 32 of 34 games.
FIRST TIME STARTERS
There were several veterans in the starting lineup on both sides of the ball in the season opener versus South Dakota School of Mines, but there were also a handful of first-time starters on those units. On offense, senior quarterback Braden Hanson, left guard Brandon Anderson and wide receiver Jameer Jackson all made their first career starts. While, defensively, middle linebackers Ben Peters and Brian Otto and safeties Baylee Carr and Will Lewis all made their first career starts. Three more players made their first career starts against Portland State (Sept. 8). Junior Garrison Goodman got the nod at middle linebacker and was impressive with a career-high 12 tackles. Strong safety Erik Mersereau also started his first game, while, on offense, fifth-year senior Marcus Hendrickson got a turn behind center and flourished in his first career start. At San Diego State, two more UND players made their first career starts for the Green and White. On offense, wide receiver Kenny Golladay started in the four-wide receiver set, while on defense, Clordion Kennedy got the nod at free safety. Sophomore Shea Walker made his first career start at left guard vs. Cal Poly in place of the injured Emmett Lynch.
NEW FACES, OLD PLACES
UND will be in a new league this season and with that usually comes new opponents, but the Green and White have actually played eight of the nine Big Sky teams on its docket. The only new opponent in that bunch is Eastern Washington - the 2010 FCS National Champion. There are two more new opponents on the schedule, but SD Mines and San Diego State are both non-conference tilts. Portland State, who is a Big Sky member, is the other non-conference game, but UND has played the Vikings twice before. Montana and Montana State are old North Central Conference rivalries that will be renewed with the membership in the BSC. UND has played Montana State 28 times and Montana 19 times before on the gridiron. The UND gridders will play those schools on back-to-back Saturdays in October this season.
COACHING STAFF SHUFFLE
Head coach Chris Mussman’s assistant coaching staff stayed in tact for the most part with only three new additions being added to the fold. Wes Nurse will coach the cornerbacks and joins the staff after one season in the same role at UC Davis. Jeff Richter, a former UND defensive lineman, will begin his first season in 2012 as the team’s tight ends coach. Kyle Myers, who was a volunteer assistant in 2010 returns in a paid capacity and will assist with the linebackers. Mike Mannausau will have a new title to work with in 2012 as he was promoted to associate head coach and will be the sole defensive coordinator this season. Josh Kotelnicki was named assistant head coach during the summer and has added that title to his role as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. Luke Schleusner will coach the position he played at UND as he moves over from coaching the tight ends and fullbacks to directing the wide receivers.
BIG TIME TURNAROUND
North Dakota made its final season in the Great West a memorable one as the team flipped its record from 2010, improving by five games to finish 8-3 overall and finish ranked in a national poll for the first time in its Division I history (No. 23; Sports Network/Fathead.com Poll). It was the third best turnaround in program history. Head coach Chris Mussman earned GWC Coach of the Year honors and was also a finalist for the Liberty Mutual and Eddie Robinson FCS Coach of the Year Awards.
BIG TIME TURNAROUND - ROAD TRIP STYLE
UND went winless on the road in 2010, dropping all five games away from the Alerus Center. However, in 2011, the story was a little different away from home as UND went 3-2 with all three of those wins coming against current Big Sky members (Northern Colorado, Southern Utah and UC Davis).
UND captured its 25th football conference title in program history when it defeated South Dakota 38-37 to earn a share of the Great West crown in last year’s season finale. The league title was the team’s first at the Division I level after winning 24 North Central Conference titles at the Division II level.