Young Bison go east (to Delaware)

The Associated Press
North Dakota State University versus Delaware. Saturday, September 22, 2018 in Fargo, N.D
North Dakota State University versus Delaware. Saturday, September 22, 2018 in Fargo, N.D

(STATS) - Fifth-ranked UC Davis is waiting in the wings for North Dakota State next week, but don't consider the Bison's visit to Delaware a trap game.

The owners of two straight FCS national titles and a record seven in the last eight years overlook an opponent less often than they play near the East Coast.

Even the Butler opener was probably considered dangerous.

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The top-ranked Bison surely are focused on Delaware and only the No. 18 Blue Hens this week as they get set to play east of Ohio for the first time since 2006 and the sixth time overall. Both teams are 2-0.

"You can go up and down the teams in their league and they've all had their run of success," NDSU first-year coach Matt Entz said. "It's going to be a huge challenge for us to go out there and win at their place. We're excited to play 'em. I know (Delaware) being a CAA team immediately garners respect from our football team."

Delaware is the first of four straight NDSU opponents which are currently in the STATS FCS Top 25 (UC Davis will be followed by Illinois State and UNI in Missouri Valley Football Conference games). The Bison have beaten 11 straight nationally ranked opponents as part of their 23-game winning streak which is the longest active run in Division I and the fifth-longest in FCS history.

The winning streak includes a 38-10 smashing of Delaware in their first meeting last September, when NDSU found the end zone on its first drive and linebacker Jabril Cox followed with an interception return for a touchdown on the Blue Hens' first play from scrimmage. NDSU's young squad returned only seven starters this season, but many of the newcomers, including redshirt freshman quarterback Trey Lance, have far surpassed their experience level.

"We got pummeled up there last year," Delaware coach Danny Rocco said. "To ask me what we have to do different, we have to do a lot of things differently. We have to get some first downs, we have to control the ball, we have to get stops on defense, we have to force some punts, we've got to get off to a fast start."

Delaware is 3-10 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams and 3-9 against defending national champions. The Blue Hens' 44-38, triple-overtime win at Rhode Island last Saturday was the 700th in program history, which allowed them to join NDSU (727) as the only non-Ivy League programs among the seven in the FCS to reach the milestone. Pat Kehoe tied the Blue Hens' single-game record with five touchdown passes at URI and is tied for the national high with seven.

North Dakota State is 45-3 (.938) in road and neutral-site games since the start of its first FCS championship season in 2011.

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