USD, UND play for share of Great West titleGRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — The University of North Dakota football team hasn't lost a home game to South Dakota in more than 25 years. Coyotes head coach Ed Meierkort will do just about anything to end that funk.
By: TOM MILLER, Associated Press
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — The University of North Dakota football team hasn't lost a home game to South Dakota in more than 25 years. Coyotes head coach Ed Meierkort will do just about anything to end that funk.
"We might walk to the game this year just to change it up," Meierkort said. "It's time for this team to win this game. You get tired of hearing about it."
The No. 22 Sioux and the No. 24 Coyotes will meet for the 94th time Saturday at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, with a share of the Great West Conference title on the line — the winner will share the crown with Cal Poly. South Dakota hasn't won in Grand Forks since 1985, a string of 11 straight defeats.
"Lots of people don't think we can go up there and win," Meierkort said. "But playing the Sioux — our rival in the conference — for the title . what a great way to end this Great West tenure. We came hand-in-hand to the Great West, and we've always appreciated that rivalry."
The matchup has no shortage of storylines:
— The game marks the end of the NCAA Division I transition for both programs.
— It's the final Great West football game, as all of the conference's members have found new league homes beginning next season.
— The matchup is the end of the USD-UND rivalry for the near future, as the Coyotes will be moving into the Missouri Valley Football Conference and the Sioux will be joining the Big Sky Conference.
Even though his teams have struggled in Grand Forks, Meierkort said, that's where he wants to play the game.
"I'd rather it be up there," he said. "It's time for us to prove we can get a big win on the road. We've proven that we can win (at home). These seniors have accomplished everything they can, except win a conference title."
In scouting the Sioux, Meierkort said the glaring characteristic is UND's team play.
"It's not an individual," he said. "It's a very good team. They've had better players, and they've gotten some players hurt, but they find ways to get it done."
Meierkort also lauded the Sioux defense, particularly UND's ability to stuff the run.
"How many 14-7 games are played in this day and age?" said Meierkort, referencing UND's victory margin against UC Davis last week. "They just don't give up points. I think (Sioux coach Chris Mussman) has done a good job getting those guys to play together."
Meierkort said the Great West swan song is a perfect way to go out.
"If you would have told me before the season that you'd be playing the Sioux for the conference title, I would have said, 'Wow that's awesome,'" he said. "And here it is."