The Youngstown State Penguins will travel to the FargoDome on Sunday gor a matchup with the North Dakota State Bison. North Dakota State is the top-ranked FCS team in the nation, and it will enter as a heavy favorite over the Penguins.
For those doing some online betting, North Dakota State is listed as a 23-point favorite over Youngstown State. North Dakota State has not lost a football game since November 2017.
Youngstown State Preview
Not only are the Penguins facing the best team in the country, but they are returning just 25 players from their last game in November of 2019. Out of these 25 players, only six are returning starters.
This will be Penguins head coach Doug Phillips’ first game leading Youngstown State. Joe Craycraft will start at quarterback for Youngstown State. Even though he appeared in 11 games in 2019, his stats were still mediocre.
Craycraft completed 52% of his passes in 2019 for 893 yards. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was 8:3.
Backup quarterback Mark Waid may also see some time on Sunday. Waid is a redshirt freshman with limited game experience.
On defense, the Penguins are led by safety Zaire Jones, who recorded 60 total tackles and intercepted three passes, which included a pick-six, in 2019.
Youngstown State has not defeated North Dakota State since the 2011 season.
North Dakota State Preview
North Dakota State is currently on a 38-game winning streak. The college football odds believe that they will make it 39 games following Sunday’s home competition against Youngstown State. Quarterback Trey Lance carried North Dakota State in 2019.
Lance, who is only a sophomore, has declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. He is expected to be taken in the first round, so he will not compete for the Bison during the spring season.
This fact will make the quarterback position key to watch on Sunday. Zeb Noland will make the start for North Dakota State. Noland has game reps, but his live experience is relatively limited.
Zeb Noland transferred to North Dakota State in the spring of 2019 from Iowa State. He appeared in nine games for the Cyclones over three seasons.
His best game at Iowa State came against then-No. 5 Oklahoma, when he threw for 360 yards with two touchdowns.
Noland appeared in eight games in 2019, but he has only thrown 14 passes in a Bison uniform. I do not believe that this will be an issue on Sunday. Noland is a talented quarterback that can pick apart Youngstown State.
Noland would have never started at North Dakota State without this spring season because of Lance’s success, so I expect him to have a breakout first start.
Youngstown State is very inexperienced, and it will be playing the best team in the nation inside the most challenging venue in the FCS. Phillips could not have a more difficult task on his hands for his first game leading the program, one that would make all the college football news headlines if it won.
North Dakota State is favored by 23 points, and it can cover this spread with ease. Youngstown State is only returning six starters.
Youngstown State will have at least eight players with limited experience on the defensive side of the ball. This will allow Noland to have a significant statistical day throwing the football.
North Dakota State’s defense will overwhelm the Penguins in every area of the game. Craycraft and Waid will struggle to complete passes because they will be under duress all afternoon. Youngstown State’s offensive line will be a brand-new group of athletes, and it takes time for a group to mesh.
North Dakota State’s average winning margin in its 38-game winning streak has been 25.9 points. I like them to cover -23 on Sunday.
When making your college football picks, take the Bison.