Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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When talking college football in Utah, BYU and the University of Utah command nearly all of the attention. Southern Utah? "Most of the high school coaches in this state still think we're a Division II program," said Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb. Not anymore. Not after SUU's convincing 41-16 win at UNLV on Saturday night, a win that accentuates SUU's label as the preseason favorite to win the Great West Conference. SUU opens Great West play Saturday at home against UND. How the 3-1 Thunderbirds -- ranked No.
At halftime, UND was firmly in control, holding a 30-7 lead over Black Hills State. The Sioux players, however, had to wait a minute or two before heading to their locker room. They had to listen to a tongue-lashing from UND coach Chris Mussman. At the 50-yard line, Mussman had his team huddle and it was obvious he wasn't congratulating his team on a 23-point advantage. "We jumped them at halftime," Mussman said. Statistically, the first half belonged to UND.
On the first play, UND's Broc Bellmore stripped the ball from Black Hills State running back Trent Butler. Sioux linebacker Johnnie Daniels scooped up the ball and ran 28 yards for a touchdown. That was the only break UND needed against overmatched Black Hills State, a team making the transition from NAIA to Division II.
Justin Belotti went to Sioux Boosters this afternoon thinking he and his fellow UND senior teammates would be recognized by UND fans. He believed a quick recognition and a thank you to Sioux fans would be the extent of his involvement at the noon luncheon. Instead, Belotti was on center stage at the Alerus Center. To his surprise, the senior safety from Kenosha, Wis., received a standing ovation after he was recognized for being named to the elite 2011 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team -- a national college football award given to student-athletes who make outstanding contributions in the areas
A week ago, UND had Fresno State on the ropes before falling 27-22 against the Football Bowl Subdivision program from the Western Athletic Conference. In the following days, UND was praised for its effort and also earned a No. 21 ranking in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches' poll -- a first for the transitioning Division I program. On Saturday, the Sioux will play Black Hills State in the 46th annual Potato Bowl. Black Hills also is a transitioning program, making the jump from NAIA to Division II.
Since joining the UND football staff this summer, Luke Schleusner has been reminded about "The Catch" perhaps once a week. This week, he's heard a lot more about the catch he made in 2001 -- a play that is one of the biggest in Sioux history. "I probably heard about that play about once a month when I was coaching in Mankato," Schleusner said of his six seasons with the Mavericks.
Mitch Sutton's availability for UND's Potato Bowl game against Black Hills State on Saturday is questionable. The starting Sioux tailback didn't practice today after suffering a pulled hamstring last week against Fresno State. But Sutton's backup -- Jake Miller -- answered a lot of questions with his performance at Fresno. Specifically, the durability of the 5-foot-11, 168-pound sophomore running back from Bismarck High no longer is in question. Miller rushed for 145 yards on 21 carries against Fresno in UND's 27-22 loss. It was the breakout performance of his career.
FRESNO, Calif. -- The expected Fresno State blowout never materialized. Instead, a breath of fresh air has been blown into UND's season. Heavily favored Fresno couldn't exhale until Robbie Rouse's 18-yard first-down run in the final minute sealed the Bulldogs' 27-22 win over the Sioux on Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium, where the hometown team heard a loud round of boos because of its inability to put away the stubborn Sioux. "We came into a pretty hostile environment and didn't bat an eye," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "I'm really proud of our guys and their effort.
FRESNO, Calif. -- On film, Fresno State appeared to be the best opponent UND has faced since the program moved up to Division I. On the field, the Bulldogs did little to change UND's thoughts as Fresno controlled the early going against the Sioux. "In my opinion, they are -- by far -- the best team we've played," UND assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Mike Mannausau said. But the Sioux, after a slow start, rebounded and had Fresno on the ropes before falling 27-22 late Saturday night. Before the game, UND was concerned with Fresno's running ability.
FRESNO, Calif. _ UND is still looking for that breakthrough win as a Division I football program. That win nearly arrived on a beautiful night for football in California. Fresno State, a program that prides itself on playing anyone, anywhere and at any time, had all it could handle from UND. But the Division I FBS school, fresh off a strong performance at No.