Schnepf: For at least one day, NDSU-UND game was the biggest thing in the state again

Fargo It was fun while it lasted. Now the state of North Dakota will have to wait another four years until it can hold its Super Bowl-you know, North Dakota State University playing football against the University of North Dakota. Saturday in fro...
University of North Dakota fans, from left, Jessica and Sean Foss, Thomas Loegering, Chad Ward and Courtney Ceroll react to a penalty call during the North Dakota State University game at the Fargodome on Saturday, September 19, 2015 in Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Fargo

It was fun while it lasted. Now the state of North Dakota will have to wait another four years until it can hold its Super Bowl-you know, North Dakota State University playing football against the University of North Dakota.

Saturday in front of 19,044 extremely loud fans in the Fargodome, these two longtime rivals played each other for the first time since 2003. For the first time since 2000, NDSU won this game-handily, 34-9-proving that UND still has a ways to go to catch up to the Bison during this Division I era.

Now, the state will have to wait until Sept. 7, 2019, when the two rivals are scheduled to play again in the Fargodome. That might be a good thing for UND, a program that is obviously still in the rebuilding stage.

It was a good thing to see this rivalry renewed. The number of tailgaters doubled, with officials turning away vehicles 2½ hours before kickoff. The dome-at least early in the game-was as loud as it has ever been. And for a change, the dome remained full after the Bison built a big halftime lead.

Whether you care or not, none of this will occur again until 2019. It seems so far away.

"Yeah, it does," said UND head coach Bubba Schweigert, who made it known that he thinks this game should be played every year. "Some might disagree, but somehow I would like to see it played every year-even though I don't feel very good right now."

His hope, of course, is to have a program that can compete with NDSU by 2019.

By then, West Fargo could have a third high school, Fargo could still be looking at ways to fund the diversion, Craig Bohl could be retired on his ranch in Wyoming and Chris Klieman could be coaching the Iowa Hawkeyes.

By then, our country could be enduring the third year of President Donald Trump. Say that three times-President Donald Trump, President Donald Trump, President Donald Trump. That sounds as odd as saying UND Sundogs-although the latter is a little more palatable.

By 2019, UND could be the Sundogs, the Roughriders, the Fighting Hawks, Nodaks or North Stars.

Change like that is good, but it is also a hard thing-which not only holds true for UND's nickname controversy but to a certain degree, this NDSU-UND rivalry.

Yes, it's hard for countless UND supporters to say goodbye to the Sioux nickname. Some have even threatened to quit donating to UND athletics if the school adopts a nickname. But they must remember it's not cheap funding an athletic program that has to travel to the West Coast for its conference games-not to mention initiating its new cost-of-attendance allowance for the athletes.

If UND loses any financial support because of a new nickname, it could take even longer for the football team to catch up to the Bison.

And what about this football rivalry that started way back in 1894 and became one of the nation's longest matchups?

Yes, it's hard-especially for those like Schweigert who have experienced this rivalry-to not see this game played every year. But it isn't going to happen until the two schools are playing in the same conference again.

Who knows, maybe by 2019 they will be. The changing landscape of college football could possibly make that happen. Maybe, just maybe, NDSU and UND could be in a league with the likes of South Dakota State, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

In the meantime, savor the moments when these two teams play.

"It's really special," said Schweigert, who grew up in Zeeland and played college football at Jamestown. "That was part of our culture and our tradition for so long. It was the single biggest sport event in the state."

On Saturday, it was again. And in 2019, it will be again.