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UND has yet to establish its identity this season on the football field. Northwestern State of Louisiana has yet to truly identify the nature of its team as well. The answers won't come Saturday when the teams meet at the Alerus Center. But the Sioux and Demons should get a better indication as to where they're headed. The game will be UND's first against a Division I FCS program this season.
UND won't begin practice for Saturday's game against Northwestern State of Louisiana until today. But the Sioux still won't know if one of their top two tailbacks will be ready for their second home game of the season. Mitch Sutton is dealing with a possible concussion and the Sioux sophomore running back is questionable for the Northwestern game, UND coach Chris Mussman said Monday. "Mitch was doing better (Sunday)," Mussman said. "But you just don't know with a head injury.
Seconds after Mitch Sutton was hit, it was obvious the Sioux running back wouldn't be back. UND's tailback picked up 5 yards on his third carry of the day. But the sophomore was hit high by Northeastern State's Nick Dobler. Sutton got back on his feet, took a few steps then hit the turf. "He got hit pretty good," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "He couldn't stay on his feet. It doesn't take a doctor to figure out he probably has a concussion.
UND doesn't know much about Northeastern State of Oklahoma, today's opponent in the 45th annual Potato Bowl. What the Sioux know is that the NCAA Division II RiverHawks are 1-1 and haven't had a winning season in nine years. The Division I FCS Sioux also know that if they don't take care of business they'll again feel the sting of losing to a lower-level opponent -- the same kind of pain they felt last season when NAIA member Sioux Falls stunned UND in the Alerus Center. "Everyone remembers Sioux Falls," UND defensive lineman Ross Brenneman said.
The race season at River Cities Speedway wrapped up Friday night. Casey Mack certainly didn't want to see it end, even if it was the coolest night of the season. The East Grand Forks driver captured the 25-lap sprint feature, his fifth win of the season at the quarter-mile track. But Mack has won four of his features since Aug. 13. "Everything is clicking right now," Mack said. "The crew has done an awesome job with the car.
UND and Northeastern State play at different levels but there is a common thread that links the programs. Both are dealing with their own forms of transition. Northeastern State, an NCAA Division II team that will play UND on Saturday in the 45th annual Potato Bowl, is headed for a new home in 2012. The RiverHawks also are playing teams from the Division I FCS level this season and next, a significant change from the way things have been in Tahlequah, Okla. The RiverHawks will join the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in 2012.
There have been a number of times this season when Bob Martin has had to maneuver his way through heavy lapped traffic on the high-banked, quarter-mile track at River Cities Speedway. In Martin's path has been his son, Rayce, a 15-year-old who is one of a handful of rookie drivers in the RCS sprint class this season. "I want to drive my race but when I'm lapping (Rayce) I'm extra cautious because he's my kid and it's my equipment," Martin said. There may have been more moments of caution than usual this season in the sprint field at RCS, considering the number of young rookies racing this s
Broc Bellmore has no plans to change his first name. A few of his teammates, however, already have a new name for the Sioux defensive lineman from West Fargo, N.D. His teammates say Block is more fitting first name, considering Bellmore's ability to alter opponents' field-goal and extra-point kicks the last two seasons. Bellmore blocked a Northern Illinois field-goal attempt last week, a play that helped UND make a fourth-quarter run at the Huskies. It was the fifth blocked kick for Bellmore in UND's last 13 games. "We do our block party every week in practice," Bellmore said.
UND players addressed the media Tuesday before Sioux coach Chris Mussman. They knew what to say even though practice for the week had not yet begun. The players said there is no looking past NCAA Division II Northeastern State of Oklahoma, the team that will meet the Sioux on Saturday in the 45th annual Potato Bowl in the Alerus Center. The Sioux learned a harsh lesson last season after their home loss against the University of Sioux Falls, the eventual NAIA national champion.
The Great West Football Conference was formed in 2004 for a handful of Division I FCS programs that needed a home. The league's future now is shaky at best as two of the five Great West members -- Cal Poly and UC Davis -- are moving to the Big Sky Conference in 2012. UND and South Dakota also are seeking long-term homes for their football programs, adding to the league's uncertainty. But the Great West stood firm last week, one that will be remembered regardless of what happens to the league down the road. Great West members South Dakota and Cal Poly pulled off head-turning wins Saturday.