McFeely: Entz dismisses job speculation as Bison heads to Arizona as potential frontrunners – InForum

FARGO — A national college football writer dropped the name Matt Entz on Sunday as a possibility to replace Scott Frost being sent off to Nebraska. ESPN’s Pete Thamel included North Dakota State head coach with risers, rock solids and retreads like Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell (lifter), Kansas State’s Chris Klieman (rock-solid) and Illinois’ Brett Bielema (retread) to be the next Cornhuskers coach.

It seems highly unlikely that a program that still considers itself a powerhouse in college football (even though it hasn’t been one in 20 years) would consider a coach from the football championship subdivision, even one who holds the winning percentage and Entz’s national title rings.

I asked Entz after his weekly press conference on Monday about Thamel’s speculation and how he intended to handle it.

“I’m not going to make it,” he said, sounding dismissive of the guesswork.

After a pause, he said, “It’s a compliment to the program.

So there’s your official reaction to Entz’s name being thrown on the wall for the Nebraska job.

Want to know what else is an add-on to the NDSU program? Offshore betting site 5Dimes has listed this Saturday’s Bison game at Arizona as a pick.

There is no staggering of points from Monday afternoon. In other words, bettors consider the Bison and Wildcats to have an equal chance of winning the game.

Depending on where the silver lands, the line could move during the week. It’s possible the NDSU will be favored over a Football Bowl Subdivision team playing in the Pac-12 conference by the time the game begins at 10 p.m. central time on Saturday.

Since online gambling sites don’t seem to archive odds from past years, we don’t know for sure if this would be the first time NDSU has been favored over a Power Five opponent. But that certainly didn’t happen much, if at all.

In its last FBS game, 2016 against Iowa, NDSU was a 14.5 point underdog. The Bison won 23-21.

In the 2014 game against Iowa State, NDSU was favored early but slipped to a 3.5 point underdog. The Bison won 34-14.

Sagarin’s computer ratings, which are heavily dependent on schedule strength, ranked NDSU 58th of all Division I football teams despite opening with wins over two weak FCS opponents. Arizona is ranked 65th after beating a strong Mountain West Conference team in San Diego State and losing to a strong Southeastern Conference team in Mississippi State.

The us-against-the-world locker room talk could be taken out of Entz’s arsenal. He says he doesn’t care if his team might be favored.

“Process,” he said. “Process. Don’t worry about the results or what other people think. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. We have to keep finding ways to do it better than we did last week.”

The Bisons will have to do better if they are to continue NDSU’s winning streak over FBS opponents, which has been six since 2010.

Arizona Wildcats coach Jedd Fisch speaks during Pac-12 Media Day at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles.

Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

Arizona surely isn’t Iowa State circa 2016 or Kansas State circa 2013. Maybe more like Iowa State in 2014. The Wildcats are still going to finish bottom of the Pac-12, but they’re not the putrid team head coach Jedd Fisch took over last year. This team finished 1-11. Last year’s Bison could have been favored by two touchdowns on this Arizona team.

But the jury is still out on where this Bison team will end up, especially with a young and inexperienced front seven. This situation was made riskier with the loss of preseason All-American defensive tackle Eli Mostaert to a broken leg against North Carolina A&T.

And Fisch hit the transfer portal and recruiting track hard. There is talent on the Wildcats edition, especially at offensive skill positions. If you stayed up late last Saturday and watched Arizona’s 39-17 loss to Mississippi State, you saw Laura’s quarterback Jayden running in scramble mode and receivers Jacob Cowing and Dorian Springer making games. The Wildcats have speed and athleticism.

The Bison missed 19 tackles against North Carolina A&T, according to analytics website Pro Football Focus. That won’t work against Arizona, which throws a lot of short passes and screens to give its receivers freedom to miss tackles.

It’s a different game for the Bison, compared to most of their previous FBS games. It won’t be Midwestern power against Midwestern power. Arizona is a resolutely West Coast team, built to pass the ball and defend the pass. NDSU is an A-gap power on offense, designed to stop the run on defense.

A clash of two worlds, played out in a convection oven after bedtime for many North Dakotans.

“I know our guys. One thing I can guarantee is that we’re going to play hard,” Entz said. “And it starts there.”

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