Jeff Kolpack, Published December 08 2010
Screaming Eagles: Bison meet red-hot EWU team on heels of 8-game win string
But that’s about where the comparisons end.
NDSU entered the playoffs having been shut out in its regular season finale and barely scratching into the field of 20. The Eagles have ripped off eight consecutive wins – three of the last four by convincing margins – and the improvement has coincided with the progress of junior quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, a first-year starter.
“I like to break up the season in halves or thirds,” said EWU head coach Beau Baldwin. “We just were hoping he got better with each part of the season.”
Obviously, he did entering Saturday’s quarterfinal game against NDSU. The transfer from SMU is 21st in the FCS in passing yards with 2,761. He’s completed 231 of 392 passes for 59 percent with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
He’s tossed 10 touchdowns against two interceptions in the last four games and he’s completed at least 62 percent of his passes in the last three games.
“Things have slowed down for him and you can see it if you see game film on him from games one, two and three,” Baldwin said. “His comfortableness in the offense is night and day. The kid has all the tools and he’s fun to coach, too.”
He’s no ordinary transfer, either. Mitchell started all 19 games he played in at SMU in two seasons and threw for 4,590 yards. He had 36 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.
Mitchell made a recruiting visit to Eastern while in high school in Katy, Texas. At SMU, he lost his job late in the season because of an injury, according to a published report.
EWU is making its eighth appearance in the FCS playoffs and has a 6-7 record. Only 17 teams have made more postseason berths.
The eight straight wins is the third-longest longest streak in FCS. Jacksonville and Dayton from the non-scholarship Pioneer League have each won 10 straight.
Its seven-game streak to end the regular season was the longest among all playoff teams.
“There’s a reason why they’re the No. 1-ranked team,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. “They’re prolific on offense and they’ve gotten better during the year. This is a team that has been in the playoffs for a lot of years.”
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia