UND football: Coyotes ready for a rematch
UND and South Dakota are transitional Division I siblings. UND, however, has been the Big Brother since the two schools announced they were moving up to Division I FCS competition. The Sioux beat South Dakota the last two seasons -- both wins com...
UND and South Dakota are transitional Division I siblings.
UND, however, has been the Big Brother since the two schools announced they were moving up to Division I FCS competition.
The Sioux beat South Dakota the last two seasons -- both wins coming at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. Both wins were decided on the last play of the game.
South Dakota, it appears, has bulked up. The Coyotes no longer want to play the role of little brother as UND prepares to host South Dakota on Saturday in the Great West Football Conference opener for both teams.
The Sioux, however, have won 12 of the last 13 meetings against South Dakota and have not lost to the Coyotes in Grand Forks since 1985.
But South Dakota is 3-1 this season and coming off its first true FCS win -- a 44-13 pounding of Southeastern Louisiana of the Southland Conference. South Dakota's success is based largely on quarterback Noah Shepard, a four-year starter who has produced some big numbers this season.
"We just keep feeding Noah," South Dakota coach Ed Meierkort said. "I think he's one of the best players at that position in the country. He takes that personally. We give him a lot of responsibility each week."
Shepard leads an offense that averages 38.7 points and 445 yards per game. His pass efficiency rating is 157.82 and he's also a major threat to run as the 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior scored five rushing touchdowns against Drake earlier this season.
But Shepard has never defeated the Sioux, about the only thing he hasn't accomplished during his career.
The Coyotes appeared to have cleared a mental hurdle in last week's win against Southeastern.
South Dakota led the Lions 14-13 at halftime but outscored the Louisiana program 30-0 in the final two quarters, allowing Southeastern only 15 total yards of offense in the process.
"I had the feeling that we played FCS games not to lose instead of playing to win," Meierkort said.
But that attitude changed in the final two quarters.
Both UND and South Dakota have dealt with similar scenarios this season.
South Dakota was routed 66-7 by No. 3 Northern Iowa in early September. Last week, Stephen F. Austin downed UND 65-31.
"That game took a lot out of us," Meierkort said of the Coyotes' trip to UNI. "We beat Drake the next week, but I still had the sense that our defense hadn't recovered."
Whether UND -- particularly its defense -- can recover from last week's loss will be one question that will be answered Saturday during the Sioux homecoming game.
But Meierkort said one-sided games shouldn't come as a surprise to either South Dakota or UND, as both programs continue to transition to full FCS status.
"Those kinds of games will happen at this level for a couple of years," Meierkort said. "Every now and then, a team will get whipped. If you play tight at the level we're playing at now, teams will take advantage of you quickly.
"You just have to react."
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Who: South Dakota at UND, 4 p.m.
Where: Alerus Center.
Radio/TV: The Fox (96.1 FM), 3 p.m. pregame show; FSSN (Channel 23, GF).
Records: UND 1-2; South Dakota 3-1.
Of note: South Dakota has played three of its four games at home.