It's not a secret that Youngstown State is known for its offense. It's definitely not a fact that escapes the North Dakota State Bison.
"They are the best team we've seen all season," NDSU coach Craig Bohl said. "They've been impressive in all their wins. They are a really good football team."
But so is North Dakota State. The Bison are ranked No. 1 in the FCS. Youngstown State is right behind the Bison at No. 3. The two teams square off this Saturday in Fargo.
"Without question, it's going to be a great football game on Saturday," Bohl said.
The Youngstown State offense, led by quarterback Kurt Hess and running back Jamaine Cook, leads the Missouri Valley Conference in total scoring (42 points per game), total offense (484 yards per game) and passing offense (290 yards per game).
Hess has been the veteran, poised quarterback who led Youngstown State to a victory over the Bison last year. Through the first four games of his junior campaign, he's averaging 191.2 yards per game, and completing 66 percent of his passes, both which lead the conference. He's found the end zone eight times and most importantly, hasn't had an interception to date.
"One of things Kurt realizes is that we have a good group of guys around him," YSU coach Eric Wolford said. "He's very creative when he gets pressure, and that's a compliment to him. The way he approaches the game, he's a student of the game. We expect big things from him."
What makes the YSU offense so tough to defend according to Bohl is that the Penguins have both the pass and running game. Cook has rushed for 443 yards, averaging 110 per game, and has five touchdowns. He's complemented by Torrian Pace's 52.2 yards per game and four touchdowns.
"They have so many different weapons," Bohl said. "Their quarterback has thrown 66 percent, a lot of balls in the air with no interceptions. Cook is a great running back - explosive, good change of direction. I think they have an excellent offensive line that's hard nosed, physical and they create running lanes and protect their quarterback well. And they have a good stable of receivers. When you put all of that together, you have a very prolific offense and it's going to be a challenge for us to slow them down."
While the Penguins are leading the conference in most offensive categories, the Bison are leading in many of the defensive ones. NDSU has only allowed 8.8 points per game, and only allowed 204 yards per game.
One of the two will have to give come Saturday, and whether it be the Bison defense or the Penguin offense that shines, the winner will definitely be the front runner for the MVFC championship.
"You have two really good football teams and the game's going to have Missouri Valley implications but, more of a national implications," Bohl said. "It should be a classic matchup of these two really good programs."