The FCS Champion North Dakota State Bison will kick off their limited 2021 spring season hosting the Youngstown State Penguins in a Missouri Valley Football Conference showdown Sunday at the Fargodome.
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The game (3:30 p.m. ET start time) will be televised locally on NBC North Dakota, but if you don’t have that channel or you don’t live locally, anyone in the US can watch Youngstown State vs North Dakota State football live on ESPN+ right here:
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ESPN+ will have coverage of most Missouri Valley, OVC, Southern, Big South and other FCS football games this spring, as well as live college basketball, UFC, international soccer, Australian Open tennis, dozens of other live sports, every 30-for-30 documentary, and additional original content (both video and written) all for $5.99 per month.
Or, if you also want Disney+ and Hulu, you can get all three for $12.99 per month, which works out to about 31 percent savings:
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You can also watch on your computer via ESPN.com.
Youngstown State vs North Dakota State Preview
With quarterback Trey Lance gone after declaring for the NFL Draft, as well as stalwart offensive lineman Dillon Radunz, who is a projected pick in the early rounds, the NDSU offense will look very different this season. Still, North Dakota State has won 38 straight games, and the team would love nothing more to continue the dominance that has brought them eight FCS championships in the last nine seasons.
Iowa State transfer Zeb Noland will take over Lance, with many eager to see how well he’ll fill the future first-round pick’s shoes in limited action this spring.
There has been reasonable concern that a shortened spring season coupled with a new one in the fall may pose health risks for the players involved, but most are just eager to be playing again.
“I know there are some concerns about the amount of games being played in a certain months’ span but, in my opinion, we’re here to play football and I would rather play too many games than not enough,” North Dakota State junior linebacker Jackson Hankey said. “Going a fall without it for the first time in however many years it’s been since I’ve done that makes you grateful for the games you play.”
“We’re trying to work smarter than harder,” said North Dakota State coach Matt Entz said about his team’s limited opportunities. “We’re trying to have a real good understanding of the workload because we’re going to try to put two seasons in a calendar year.”
On the other side, Youngstown State will be trying to improve upon a 2-6 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2019. The team has a new head coach in Doug Phillips, who has worked as an assistant at Cincinnati for the last four years.
Joe Craycraft and Mark Waid have been competing for the starting quarterback job, and both could see time this spring, particularly considering their head coach’s current philosophy.
“That’s where I challenged our offensive and defensive staffs,” Phillips said. “Find 24 guys who can play on offense and 24 guys who can play on defense. We’re not going to make excuses, we’re going to find players who can go out and contribute.” Thus, whichever young signal-caller clicks most will likely see more snaps on an offense that should, as it has in recent years, rely heavy on the run game.
When these teams last met in 2019, the Bison handed the Penguins a 56-17 defeat.