In July of 2008, the seeds of a future rivalry were planted in St. Louis.
North Dakota State's football team, off back to back 10-1 seasons was set to enter the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The league preseason poll voted the Bison the number one team over Northern Iowa. The Panthers the year before racked up a 12-1 record, losing in the FCS quarterfinals to Joe Flacco and Delaware.
UNI wasn't thrilled to see the Bison on top of the league poll without ever playing a conference game. The Panthers proved that in the first meeting between the schools, a 23-13 win over NDSU. The Bison won six games that season, while UNI reached the semifinals before losing to eventual national champion Richmond.
2009 was a lost season for Bison football. A historic flood derailed things before the season started. What followed was off the field trouble, arrests and lousy play on the field. NDSU entered its 2009 game with Northern Iowa with a mark of 1-4, and was showing signs of a defense that just wasn't clicking.
Things got so bad that year that sophomore running back DJ McNorton was moved to linebacker a week before this game after an injury to starter Matt Anderson. The Panthers took advantage of that and then some in this game putting up 395 total yards in the game.
NDSU played a game that typified that season. Silly penalties and missed opportunities plagued the Bison that day. They committed 14 penalties, missed two field goals and threw two interceptions. Despite all of that, NDSU had 514 total yards, but couldn't slow down the Panthers that day.
It was 35-20 UNI with over five minutes to go in the fourth quarter when things got crazy. NDSU was driving when quarterback Nick Mertens moved out of the pocket and shovel passed the ball to Pat Paschall. Paschall was driven out of bounds by UNI standout linebacker LJ Fort all the way thru the Bison bench and up against the Fargodome wall.
What ensued was pandemonium, an all out fight between the two teams where punches were thrown. Paschall was eventually suspended by the conference for throwing a punch, another blow to an forgotten year for NDSU football.
UNI would win this game, 42-27 en route to winning the first three matchups between the schools at the D-1 level.
Former running back DJ McNorton joins Dom Izzo and Jeff Kolpack to look back at the game that sparked a great rivalry.