Valparaiso (0-0) at North Dakota (0-0)
When: 7 p.m. today.
Where: Alerus Center, Grand Forks, N.D.
Radio/Internet: WVUR-FM (95.1, Valparaiso); valpoathletics.com.
Valparaiso will win if: The Crusaders aren't likely to pull off the upset against the full scholarship North Dakota program. The key for Valparaiso will be to limit turnovers on offense, big plays on defense and come out of the game healthy. The Crusaders have had problems in recent years with key contributors being lost in the first game of the season.
North Dakota will win if: The hosts have prolific senior receiver Greg Hardin who could cause fits for the Valparaiso secondary. Hardin finished last season with 14 touchdowns and 1,145 receiving yards. North Dakota will be led by redshirt freshman QB Ryan Bartles. If Bartles finds early chemistry with Hardin, Thursday night could be a long night for the Crusaders.
Notes: The Crusaders won the only meeting with North Dakota in series history, a 20-10 victory on Nov. 25, 1920 in Gary. ... Valparaiso is opening the season in August for the second straight year and the Crusaders are 0-3 all-time in August games. ... North Dakota was formerly known as the Fighting Sioux, but is currently without a nickname. ... Valparaiso junior Eric Hoffman is expected to start at quarterback for the third straight season. — Paul Oren