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The University of Northern Colorado will face Lamar University in its home opener on Saturday, and things should favor the Bears.

UNC and Lamar both have a 1-1 record, but the Bears’ performances were more significant and expected to carry them to a win.

With the limited body of work and huge swings in final statistics of Lamar’s two games, however, it’s hard to tell exactly what the Cardinals will look like when they take the field Saturday. But it’s safe to guess that Lamar will be somewhere in the middle.

The Cardinals opened the season against North American, 47-3, in week one. That doesn’t say much, though. North American is an NAIA team out of Texas that is only in its second season, so it’s still a developing program.

Then, Lamar fell to the University of Texas-San Antonio last week in a 54-0 shutout. This wasn’t an impressive loss, either. UTSA has long been an OK program, but it’s not a powerhouse by any means.

Still, the Roadrunners ran away with the game in San Antonio. Lamar gave up 427 total yards on offense, including 321 yards through the air. The Cardinals final offensive production was just 122 yards.

Lamar relies on the run game, averaging 145.5 yards per contest in 2020. The team has rushed for 243 and 89 yards, respectively, in the first two games of this season.

The Cardinals have historically been a team in the bottom or middle of the league, previously they were with the Southland Conference, minus its 2018 season. Lamar made the first round of the FCS Playoff before falling to Northern Iowa. That year, the team put up big offensive numbers — averaging 431 yards each game and nearly 242 yards on the ground — but it hasn’t repeated a season like that.

Defensive back Anthony Ruffin leads the team with 12 tackles on the year and was a preseason All-WAC selection.

Lamar struggled on its third down conversions in the game against UTSA, going just 3-of-12. In the team’s opener against North American, the Cardinals were still just 3-of-13 but went 5-of-5 in the red zone.

If the Bears defense can keep the opponent from getting good field position, it’s strong enough to prevent Lamar’s third down rate from improving. On the other side, UNC has enough offensive weapons that it can put points on the board quickly.

“Come to the game on Saturday. It’s going to be a good one,” junior tight end Darren DeLaCroix said. “I think it’s going to be really exciting over there and there are going to be a lot of people there. We’re excited to play in front of fans, and we really need y’all.”

Northern Colorado can still purchase tickets at or watch the broadcast on ESPN+. Kick off is set for 2 p.m. at Nottingham Field.

This content was originally published here.