(STATS) – Don’t go trick or treating at the Fargodome – the North Dakota State Bison might be stingy with handing out the Halloween candy.
The top-ranked defense in the FCS doesn’t give away much. On Saturday, the No. 2 Bison allowed only 157 yards, forced five turnovers and had six sacks to beat rival Northern Iowa 30-14.
Safety Robbie Grimsley returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown and NDSU (8-0, 5-0) scored 17 points off turnovers to take another step toward a possible seventh straight Missouri Valley Football Conference title.
Told the win was the Bison’s 100th this decade, coach Chris Klieman said, “We’ll try to go 1-0 next week.”
South Dakota State hopes to match up better offensively than UNI (4-4, 3-2), which was bidding for a third straight win over a top 10 opponent but lost for the fourth straight time and seventh time in the last eight meetings against the Bison.
The Bison defense has been dominant all season even though coordinator Matt Entz’s unit lost All-America defensive end Greg Menard to a season-ending injury in the preseason and All-America linebacker Nick DeLuca for several games in September.
DeLuca is back and he manhandled UNI for a team-high seven tackles, two sacks of Eli Dunne and two forced fumbles. Levi Jordheim recovered all three UNI fumbles, and Caleb Butler had a pair of sacks.
“We thought we could get after (Dunne) because we didn’t think he was going to scramble,” Klieman said. “Nick DeLuca is an NFL kid. He made play after play. And great (pass) coverage. So happy for our guys. Great team win.”
The Bison are surrendering 10.1 points and 188.3 yards per game – the national low in both categories.
While their offense was sluggish without starting running back Lance Dunn, who has a hip injury, it drove 75 yards to open the second half and go ahead for good 14-7 on Ty Brooks’ 22-yard touchdown run.
North Dakota State pulled within 26-25 of UNI in the all-time series.