GRAND FORKS — Leading up to the University of North Dakota football’s Saturday, Sept. 9, matchup with Missouri State, the university and its fans were giddy about the new bells and whistles associated with the atmosphere in and around the Alerus Center.
On the field, though, there was one old staple of Bubba Schweigert and Eric Schmidt.
The No. 11 Fighting Hawks held Missouri State, a team that scored 43 points against Missouri of the SEC the week before, to 211 yards of total offense in a 34-0 Potato Bowl victory in front of 12,047 fans.
“We weren’t worried about their Week 1,” UND safety Chuck Flowers said. “That was the biggest thing. We pride ourselves on a tough, physical defense. As long as we do the little thing, I feel like we can’t be beat.”
UND drew more than 12,000 fans for the first time since 2009 and shut out an opponent for the first time since 2012.
UND, which improved to 1-1, rattled Missouri State starting quarterback Peyton Huslig, a junior college transfer who threw for more than 350 yards in his NCAA debut last week at Missouri.
Huslig finished 12-for-23 passing with one interception. He was sacked three times.
“We don’t compare to different opponents or from one week to the next,” Schweigert said. “We’ll enjoy it tonight and look forward to next week.”
UND built separation with a 21-point second quarter, highlighted by two Keaton Studsrud-to-Noah Wanzek touchdown passes.
Wanzek, a sophomore from Jamestown who caught touchdown passes of 13 and 3 yards, had a career day and finished with seven grabs for 117 yards.
UND’s run game, stifled a week ago at Utah, found its rhythm. Brady Oliveira led the way with 16 carries for 164 yards. John Santiago added 12 carries for 49 yards and a 19-yard touchdown, while James Johannesson saw his most extensive action of his career with 10 carries for 40 yards, including an impressive 19-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter in which the former Minnesota Gophers back carried a handful of defenders into the end zone.
UND took a 24-0 lead into halftime and any hopes of a Missouri State comeback were zapped on the Bears’ first drive of the third quarter.
On first-and-goal from the 8, MSU running back Jason Randall ran up the middle near the goal line. He was held up at the 1 when Flowers stripped the ball and teammate Tanner Palmborg recovered.
“Coming in, we had confidence (our defense) would do well,” said Studsrud, who threw for 273 yards. “Coach Schmidt did a great job with the game plan.”