In this week’s My Thoughts Exactly, Daniel “Pinto” Gunderson takes a look at what was more impressive on Saturday, October 20. North Dakota State University’s defensive domination of the University of South Dakota or the University of North Dakota’s passing game against the University of Montana?
Who was more impressive on Saturday? Was it the North Dakota State University Bison’s defense in their 54-0 win over the University of South Dakota? Or, was it the 660-yard passing from the University of North Dakota in their 40-34 win over the University of Montana?
Simple question put forward, but the answer is not as easily found. In my mind, there are two schools of thought when it comes to trying to determine what is more impressive. So, let us explore both of those and then come to a conclusion. First, I’m going to give the stats from both sides.
For NDSU, their defense resembled a brick wall that the Coyotes continue to run or throw into throughout Saturday night’s contest. The ‘Yotes threw for 59-yards in four quarters. Not in one quarter. Not in one drive. Not in one play. They did it in one, entire 60-minute game.
Running was an even more treacherous venture. USD ran the ball 27 times for 17-yards. For you math whiz kids out there, that is an average of 0.6 yards per carry. I’ll give everybody a second to let those numbers sink in.
For UND, it was the senior Braden Hanson to junior Greg Hardin show. The Grizzles are still seeing these two players playing catch in their dreams. Hanson threw 61 times, completing 42 of those throws. Of those 42 completions, 12 went to the Hardin.
Hardin completed another 30 passes to get his total yardage up to 660-yards. Over half of those yards were collected by Hardin, who had 333-yards receiving. Hardin averaged 27.8 yards per catch, Hanson averaged 15.7 per throw. All of this included a 32-yard game winning touchdown pass between the two.
If you look what NDSU has been doing all season to every single team, their performance is more impressive. Why? Well, when you’re in game seven on the season, there is enough tape out there for teams to get an idea of what you are doing.
You’re also doing this without your top two strong safeties. Junior Colten Heagle is the one missed the most by this defense because of what he brings to the run defense and his experience. Still, we see NDSU and this defense yet to give up 100-yards rushing to any team, and have yielded one offensive touchdown in the last 12 quarters.
I don’t care what kind of talent you are playing against, this is still something you look at as jaw dropping. This might end up being their most complete and dominating performance they have all season. It just does not get any better.
If you look at what can happen in just a 60-minute game and not compare it to anything else, than UND’s performance is more impressive. How? Well, you have to know that Hanson had already thrown for 410-yards and Hardin already had 243-yards receiving by halftime. An entire game’s worth of damage done in 30-minutes of play.
Hanson had only 46-yards passing in the third quarter, meaning he threw for 204-yards in the fourth. Hardin had 90-yards receiving the rest of the second half, but he did have the game-winning 32-yard touchdown catch with 12 seconds to go.
To do all of this against a talented, all be it not your typical Montana team, makes it that much more impressive. In the Big Sky Conference, where offense is expected and defense seems to be frowned upon, UND broke records.
To the rest of the nation, UND’s performance makes headlines where what NDSU did makes an under the fold story.
In my opinion, it is more impressive what UND did than NDSU. I’ve given my reasons, but another one, just to add another log to the fire, is that what NDSU did doesn’t catch my eye. It doesn’t make me go “WOW.” UND did.
NDSU is the better team and will be in the national championship talk all season long. This is probably going to be UND’s only highlight all season long. Still, it was impressive enough to warrant my vote for best Saturday night performance by a North Dakota college.
Daniel “Pinto” Gunderson is the producer of the Mike McFeely Show, which can be heard 2-5 p.m. every weekday on 790 KFGO. You can follow him on Twitter @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook.