North Dakota, Southern Utah are no strangers

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 4:11 PM

Tom Miller

GRAND FORKS, N.D.— Most of the University of North Dakota football team’s 2012 schedule has featured unfamiliar opponents as the green and white fight through their first season getting accustomed to the Big Sky Conference.

This week’s opponent, Southern Utah, however, provides some recent history — a history both teams discussed leading up to their matchup Saturday afternoon at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

During UND’s weekly media day, players and coaches focused on Southern Utah’s 2-0 record in the Alerus.

On the Big Sky’s conference call, Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb reminisced about last season’s defeat to North Dakota in Cedar City.

"I think that could provide extra motivation," he said. "They beat us up physically. We had been riding pretty high with a national ranking and coming off an FBS victory. North Dakota came in with a better game plan. They played lights-out on offense and defense.

"That’s fresh in the minds of our players," Lamb said. "It’s rare for a game to carry over from year to year, but in that case it was a game I believe propelled North Dakota to a conference championship and really damaged our psyche."

UND won last season 26-20 at Southern Utah behind Jake Miller’s 163 yards rushing and two touchdowns. In a losing effort, Southern Utah quarterback Brad Sorenson threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns.

Lamb said this year’s North Dakota team is quite different from the 2011 version.

"They certainly have more emphasis on throwing the football," he said. "They have a more creative passing attack with more ability to throw the ball downfield with their quarterback."

Lamb also noticed the difference in UND’s defense, a maligned group that gave up a school-record 695 yards of total offense in Montana State’s 55-10 rout last Saturday.

"They had some veterans on defense graduate; they were stout a year ago," Lamb said. "But they still have the same aggressive philosophy."

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