Teams that force a lot of turnovers meet in Missouri Valley Conference action when the No. 20 South Dakota Coyotes take on the host No. 4 North Dakota Fighting Hawks on Thursday. The Coyotes (1-0), who finished sixth in the MVC at 4-4 and were 5-7 overall in 2019, forced seven turnovers, including four interceptions in last week's win over Illinois State. The Fighting Hawks (2-0), which were 7-5 as an independent last season, have forced eight turnovers and blocked one punt this season. This will be the first meeting between the schools since No. 23 South Dakota beat No. 10 North Dakota 45-7 in 2017.
The game is slated to start at 6 p.m. ET at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. South Dakota registered 300 total yards of offense in the opener, while North Dakota is averaging 365.5 yards per game. The Fighting Hawks are seven-point favorites in the latest South Dakota vs. North Dakota odds from William Hill Sportsbook, while the over-under for total points scored is set at 47.5. Before making any North Dakota vs. South Dakota picks, you'll want to see the latest college football predictions and betting advice from SportsLine's Emory Hunt.
Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis of all levels of football since 2007, and a former running back at Louisiana-Lafayette. He knows the game from a player's perspective, and is a specialist when it comes to picking all levels of college football. He enjoyed a dominant 2019 season, going 116-79 against the spread while returning nearly $3,000 to $100 bettors.
- South Dakota vs. North Dakota spread: North Dakota -7
- South Dakota vs. North Dakota over-under: 47.5 points
- South Dakota vs. North Dakota money line: South Dakota +220, North Dakota -270
- USD: Has five wins against top-10 teams over the past five-plus seasons
- UND: Will look to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2008
Why North Dakota can cover
The Fighting Hawks have won the last 13 home games in the series with South Dakota. Junior wide receiver Garrett Maag has been a big part of the Fighting Hawks' success. He has eight receptions for 127 yards and a score. Last year, he saw action in all 12 games, making 11 starts. He finished second on the team with 59 receptions and five touchdowns. His 610 receiving yards were third on the team.
Defensively, North Dakota is led by redshirt freshman Josh Navratil, who leads the team with 12 tackles, including five solo. He has registered 1 ½ sacks for eight yards. In 2019, he saw action in two games, making his debut against Northern Colorado. He finished with three tackles, recording his first career stop against the Bears. He followed that up with a pair of solo tackles vs. Southern Utah.
Why South Dakota can cover
Despite that, the Fighting Hawks are not a lock to cover the South Dakota vs. North Dakota spread. That's because the Coyotes appear to be on the right track. They won two of their last three games in 2019, including a 24-21 upset of South Dakota State in the season finale, before winning the spring opener on Saturday. Carson Camp became the first true freshman quarterback to start a season opener, completing 20 of 35 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once, but had a 123.3 efficiency rating. He also rushed nine times for 20 yards and a score.
Defensively, the Coyotes forced seven turnovers against Illinois State and turned them into 24 points. True freshman cornerback Myles Harden had two of the team's four interceptions. Harden registered four tackles, including two solo, with four pass breakups. South Dakota finished the game with five sacks, including two which forced fumbles.
How to make South Dakota vs. North Dakota picks
Hunt has studied the matchup and found a critical X-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the spread. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins South Dakota vs. North Dakota? And what crucial X-factor causes one side of the spread to hit hard? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread you need to jump on, all from the proven expert who specializes in picking all levels of college football.