YOUNGSTOWN - It's not many times a quarterback can come into a game and have better numbers than Youngstown State quarterback Kurt Hess, or numbers anywhere close to the veteran signal caller.
But the similarities between Hess and North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen are nearly identical - making Saturday's showdown at the Fargodome that much more intense.
Hess has been stellar this season. He's completed 66 percent of his passes (55 of 83) for 765 yards and eight touchdowns. He's averaging 191 yards per game and most importantly - no interceptions through four games.
"They have so many different weapons," North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl said. "Their quarterbacks has thrown 66 percent, a lot of balls in the air with no interceptions. 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."
Then there is Jensen.
The junior, through four games, has passed for 841 yards, has a 70 percent completion rate (69 of 98) and has eight touchdowns. And like Hess, he hasn't thrown an interception this season.
"He's a good quarterback, I think he is even better than we was last year," YSU coach Eric Wolford said of Jensen. "He does a great job of managing the football game. I think they are creative on offense. They have a lot of weapons. They have balance. Anytime you have a team that has balance you can do good things."
Hess brings to North Dakota an efficiency rating of 175.5. Henson's is 169.43. The similarities even stand out to Wolford.
"I think they are obviously two great quarterbacks," Wolford said. "They do a great job of managing the game. They are very similar. Brock is a good player, Kurt is a good player. At key times and in big games, you need to make something happen when the heat is on, and I can see both of these guys doing it."
When the two faced off last year, Hess statistically had the better game - as well as led his team to victory. He was 20 of 24 for 237 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed in one score. Jensen was 11 of 22 for 133 yards, but no touchdowns.
But this is a new year, and both quarterbacks are ready to lead their team to victory. And being a new year, Hess and the Penguins have a different attitude going in to this year's contest.
"It's a little bit of a different mindset from last year," Hess said. "We kind of had our backs against the wall, we were about .500 going in there, trying to make the playoffs, and we had our backs against the wall. This year, same story for North Dakota State, they have gone nothing but wins the entire season and that's a tribute to how well they prepare in the offseason. But we're at the same level this year. We had a good offseason and a good start to this season."