UND Football lost against a tough Washington Huskies team on Saturday evening in Seattle. While the score was not close (45-3), nobody could have expected the Fighting Hawks to come out on top against the 9th ranked team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and many outsiders predicted it to be worse.
UND’s defense played well and held a high-powered offense full of NFL talent to just 17 points in the first half. The final point differential of 42 was even enough to cover the spread in most Las Vegas sport books, so those who had enough faith to gamble on the Hawks were rewarded.
Despite the loss, UND is still in good shape as losses to FBS schools usually do not hold too much weight against smaller schools in the rankings.
Moving forward, this Saturday’s matchup against the Sam Houston State Bearkats could be the most important game of the year for UND.
“We’ve had this one circled on our calendars,” stud linebacker Jake Rastas said.
Sam Houston State is currently ranked 4th in the nation in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and a win over the Bearkats would skyrocket UND in the rankings.
Keep in mind, since UND is acting as an independent team this year, they must receive an at-large bid to qualify for the playoffs since they cannot win a conference championship. This means they need to prove themselves to voters, and what better way to do that than to upset a perennial powerhouse on the road.
A win is definitely not out of the question either. Star running back John Santiago’s production thus far has been on par with the high expectations for him. Even in a big loss on Saturday, Santiago rushed for 139 on just 18 attempts, averaging 7.7 yards per carry.
Santiago is also looking forward to Saturday’s game as an opportunity to prove that this year’s team has the talent necessary to take their game to the next level. Although many fans were impressed with UND’s effort against the Huskies, he saw the game as more of a stepping stone to getting where the team should be on a weekly basis.
“Just looking at it from a captain’s perspective, we played hard but didn’t play to our potential,” Santiago said in a postgame interview. “We didn’t get the result we wanted.”
Aside from the offense’s potential, the defense has been playing relatively well and might even see senior defensive tackle Tank Harris return to the lineup after missing the Washington game due to injury.
Overall, the Washington game could be beneficial to UND even in a loss. Playing against the size and speed of the Huskies on the road was a great way to prepare for a very good, but not better, Bearkats squad.