North Dakota State post-game analysis: Blue Hens not quite ready for the best of FCS

Sarah Boekholder/THE

Redshirt freshman Will Knight carries the ball downfield for the BLue Hens.

Managing Sports Editor

Delaware knew it had a tough task ahead of it when No. 1 North Dakota State came to visit. And a tough task it was for the then No. 18 ranked Blue Hens as the Bison came to Newark to stomp the home team on the way to a 47-22 win.

North Dakota State mustered 490 total yards on offense while Delaware only managed 261. The Bison’s run game was particularly dominant as it racked up 295 yards on the ground.

The Bison are the premier team in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) as they have won seven out of the last eight FCS Championships. They have beaten Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Power Five teams on the road such as Kansas State, Iowa State and, most recently, No. 13 ranked Iowa in 2016. They have now won 24 straight games dating back to 2017 after their lone loss to South Dakota State. It’s safe to say that when it comes to the FCS, they are the undisputed king.

“As I have said for quite some time, that is the model, that is the program that you want to emulate,” Delaware Head Coach Danny Rocco said.

They were just too much for the Blue Hens to handle, especially in the first half. The past two games, the Blue Hens have not put together a full 60-minute game. They were down 13-0 at halftime in their triple overtime victory against Rhode Island last Saturday and found themselves in a 27-5 hole versus the Bison. The Blue Hens are going to have to stop getting themselves in big holes if they want to compete for a CAA championship.

Should we be alarmed by the outcome of this game? No. The Bison are just THAT good. Their 24-game win streak and winning seven out of the last eight championships speak for themselves. A lot of people say they should be in an FBS conference, but they seem to be content being atop the FCS ladder. This game showed that Delaware is not quite there yet, even with the No. 18 ranking. There is still a big gap between North Dakota State and the rest of the FCS.

This game did show potential from Delaware. The blocked punt to start the game and the offensive firepower displayed in the second half gave the fans some excitement. Backup quarterback Nolan Henderson showed he can play with the best as he threw for 125 yards and two touchdowns, perhaps cementing his role as the future quarterback for the team.

There were 14,489 spectators in attendance Saturday in the contest against the defending national champions, and students showed up in numbers.

As for the rest of the schedule, the Blue Hens should find themselves with much more favorable matchups going forward, except for the Sept. 28 showdown against the defending Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Champion University of Pittsburgh. ESPN gives Delaware a 4.2% chance to win.

With Delaware securing a victory against Rhode Island last week, it is already 1-0 in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play. The Hens avoid playing 2016 FCS Champion James Madison and defending CAA Champion Maine. While the result on Saturday was not what they wanted, CAA play is what really matters most throughout the season, and the Blue Hens should be in a position to do some damage in the conference, just don’t expect a run at the FCS Championship. That seems to be in the hands of North Dakota State for the foreseeable future.

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