When the Minot State University football team hosts the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) at 2:30 this afternoon at Herb Parker Stadium, it will be a battle of the newest members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
Both programs transitioned from the NAIA and are in their first season in NCAA Division II and the NSIC.
That's where the similarities stop.
Minot State University junior Glyn Borel eludes a Minnesota State University-Mankato tackler during a kickoff return Aug. 30 at Herb Parker Stadium.
USF, a former NAIA powerhouse that appeared in five straight national championship games from 2006-2010, has moved seamlessly into the new conference and division. The Cougars (2-0) already boast a marquee win over then-No.16 St. Cloud State University (Minn.) and are receiving votes in the national top-25 poll.
"I think our kids were pretty dialed in all summer, knowing that they could go in and they could handle this conference," USF coach Jed Stugart said. "I think that's what they wanted to prove."
The Beavers (0-2) are still searching for their first win of the season, having lost to Minnesota State University-Mankato and Wayne State College (Neb.).
"It's been a tough stretch," MSU coach Paul Rudolph said. "We've played some good football teams for a while now and we probably haven't played up to par, but we all like to be successful. We need to overcome some obstacles and see if we can get a 'W' one of these days."
Stugart said the Beavers won't be taken lightly. The teams met twice last season, with USF winning 38-23 in Minot and 29-10 in Sioux Falls.
"We played 'em twice last year and both games were very physical," Stugart said. "They're hungry. They have confidence. They're not intimidated about the University of Sioux Falls because we've played them in the past."
Rudolph said the Beavers need to limit junior receiver Carrington Hanna, who leads the Cougars with 13 catches and 201 receiving yards.
"We gotta put points on the board, that's the number one thing," Rudolph said. "It's vital that we stay on the field because they're a pretty potent offensively."
USF senior quarterback Taylor Perkins tossed six touchdowns and just one interception in his first two games.
"They're gonna come out and sling it against us," MSU senior safety John Denne said. "They got a pretty good receiving crew, pretty much the same guys we played last year, and they're gonna come out and challenge us. We're looking forward to it."
The Beavers, who have scored just 16 points in their first two games, will have the aid of a homecoming crowd.
"Homecoming is always fun," Denne said. "It gets everybody pretty jacked up and ready to play."