GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The Fighting Hawks are embarking on their 10th season as a Division I football program in 2017, but UND has never played a top 25 FBS opponent. That will change with Thursday's season opener at Utah as they arrive in Salt Lake City to face the 25th-ranked Utes (FBS Coaches' poll) at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Kickoff between the two teams, who both won nine games at their respective levels of college football a season ago, is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and will air on the Pac-12 Networks.
• The Fighting Hawks, who are coming off a 9-3 season and a share of the Big Sky Championship, enter a season ranked in the top 10 of the preseason polls for the first time during its Division I era (since 2008-09). UND will arrive in Utah's capital ranked No. 8 in the STATS FCS Preseason Poll and No. 10 in the FCS Coaches’ Poll.
•This marks the second straight season UND appeared in the national preseason polls. Last season, the Fighting Hawks were 19th in the STATS poll and 21st in the coaches’ poll before ending up 12th in both final polls.
• UND holds a 5-4 record in season openers at the DI level. The Fighting Hawks picked up their first DI season-opening road win in 2015 at Wyoming and the 24-13 victory over the Cowboys was the program’s first win over an FBS foe.
• The 2016 season opener at Stony Brook marked the first time during UND’s Division I era that the team started on the road against an FCS opponent. The four previous season-opening road contests were against an FBS opponent (at Texas Tech, 2009; at Idaho, 2010; at San Jose State; 2014 and Wyoming, 2015).
• This will be UND’s sixth time playing in the Beehive State and first of two games there this season. The Fighting Hawks also play at Southern Utah (Nov. 4). They are 2-3 all-time in the state of Utah.
• The Utes, who were 9-4 in 2012 and posted a 5-4 league mark in Pac-12 action, are the first Power Five program UND will face since opening the 2009 season with a 38-13 loss at Texas Tech. Current outside linebackers coach Joel Schwenzfeier tied a UND single-game record with three interceptions against the Red Raiders.
• The Fighting Hawks are 1-8 all-time against FBS opponents with three of those losses decided by single digits, including 27-26 loss at Bowling Green last year.
• Utah will be the third current Pac-12 program that UND has faced, but first in 67 years. UND and Oregon played to a 0-0 tie in 1931 and Arizona State posted a 30-12 victory over the then Fighting Sioux in 1940.
• UND will play another Pac-12 school next season in week two when the Fighting Hawkst travel to Seattle to take on Washingon Sept. 8.
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
TV: Pac-12 Network/Pac-12 Mountain (Guy Haberman, Yogi Roth, Jill Savage)
UND Radio: 96.1 FM (Grand Forks)
Live Stream: Pac-12 Networks Live | Pac-12 Now Mobile App
Live Audio Stream: www.UNDSports.com and UND Sports Mobile App
Live Stats: www.UtahUtes.com
ABOUT THE PAC-12 NETWORK
For more information on the Pac-12 Network and a list of cable providers visit Pac-12.com/networks. For more information on the Pac-12 Now mobile app visit pac-12.com/pac-12-now. If your cable provider does not offer Pac-12 Networks, a non-cable streaming option is the Sling TV app (www.slingtv.com). Dish Network also carries the network in its extended sports packaging.
UND will play Missouri State on Saturday, Sept. 9 in the program’s home opener at the Alerus Center. The clash with the Bears is also the 52nd-annual Potato Bowl USA game. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. CT. UND blanked Idaho State 41-0 in the first Potato Bowl USA game back in 1966 and now owns a 40-11 all-time record after rallying for a 47-44 double-overtime win against South Dakota in 2016.
The Potato Bowl USA was created in 1965 by then UND Athletics Director Len Marti, head coach Marv Helling, assistant football coach Jerry Olson and sports information director Lee Bohnet.
The North Dakota football team will have two repeat captains in 2017 in seniors Cole Reyes and Keaton Studsrud. That duo will be flanked by clasmmate Jake Disterhaupt and junior running back John Santiago to form head coach Bubba Schweigert’s quaret of captains this season.|
Besides appearing in the national polls, the North Dakota football team has also seen several of its players receive preseason accolades from various media outlets and organizations.
Senior safety Cole Reyes and junior running back John Santiago each found their names on multiple Preseason All-America teams. Reyes was named to the STATS FCS and Athlon
Sports Preseason All-American First Team. He was also named the Big Sky Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and landed on the Preseason All-Big Sky Team.
Santiago was pegged to the same two Preseason All-America squads as a kick returner and was a unanimous selection on the Preseason All-Big Sky Team at running back. Reyes and Santiago were joined on the Preseason All-Big Sky Team by cornerback Deion Harris, running back Brady Oliveira and offensive guard Demon Taylor.
Senior Cole Reyes and junior John Santiago appeared on a number of watch lists released in the lead up to the 2017 season. Here’s a look at the lists where those two found their names:
Buck Buchanan Award Watch List (FCS Defensive POY)
Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List (One of 31 FCS players listed)
College Football Performance Awards Performer of the Year
SANTIAGO VS. THE FBS
Junior All-American John Santiago has 13 100-yard rushing games to his credit and he has gone 2-for-2 in that category against previous FBS opponents. He rushed 24 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut at Wyoming. The true freshman helped UND to the program’s first win over an FBS opponent as the team knocked off the Cowboys 24-13. In last year’s 25-24 loss at Bowling Green, Santiago rushed 18 times for 119 yards and a touchdown. In two career games against FBS foes, the Andover, Minn., native is averaging 133.5 ypg and 6.4 ypc.
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