Vermillion, SD--Northern Iowa and South Dakota used to play each other in football all the time.They were both in the North Central Conference from 1934 to 1978.But they haven't met since 1982, and now the Coyotes, our team of the week, have joined the Panthers in Division one, and they play Saturday in the UNI-Dome.
This is the first year at the D-1 level for the Coyotes and they're expected to have some struggles against top competition like the Panthers, who are a top ten team.
USD is 1-0, but that 52-0 win was over Saint Ambrose, an NAIA school. The Coyotes know they won't be the favorite in Cedar Falls, but they know a win would let them know they've arrived at the big time.
"UNI's a great team," says USD quarterback Noah Shepard. "I'm not going to take anything away from them but we're going to give them everything we have. That's a big stage we've been waiting for. We're finally going to get to walk up that stage and now it's time to perform."
"It's a daunting task," says USD head coach Ed Meierkort. "But when we came into division two level we were trying to catch the North Dakota's and Omaha's also, so everything is relative. Eventually we'll be alright. It's going to take a few years to be a Northern Iowa. They've been good a long, long time."
UNI is a little banged up after losing to #16 BYU last week, 41-17. Quarterback Pat Grace, a Heelan grad, was knocked out of the game on this hit to the head.He's listed as questionable for Saturday's game with the Coyotes, but coach Mark Farley says he's pretty confident Grace will play.
Starting center Austin Steichen, from Remsen St. Mary's is a big question mark after a groin injury last week.
The game starts at four o'clock on Saturday at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls.
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