GRAND FORKS — In the University of North Dakota football team's win last week over then-No. 3 South Dakota State, head coach Bubba Schweigert said he was most proud of his team's physical toughness.
Perhaps that's why UND football fans have experienced two incredible second-half performances to start the program's first year in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
UND is outscoring opponents 49-10 in the second half through two games, which includes a 21-3 edge against the Jackrabbits and a 28-7 advantage against Southern Illinois.
No. 4 UND will look to keep that second-half momentum going Thursday at 5 p.m. against No. 20 South Dakota at the Alerus Center.
"We really challenged our opponent to stop us," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said of a second-half mentality against SDSU. "We can still get better at that but our guys really responded to that challenge."
UND's halftime adjustments have been notable, especially considering the team is under a second-year offensive coordinator in Danny Freund and a first-year defensive coordinator in Brett Holinka.
"It was a good job by the coaches to give us a good plan at halftime, and the guys have to come out and execute," Schweigert said. "I thought at the beginning of the game we were maybe too hyped up. That can hurt you at times. We were in a better emotional spot in the second half."
Big pass plays were the issue early against the Jacks, which led to a 14-7 halftime deficit.
"We just had to eliminate the big plays," Schweigert said. "They have good personnel and beat us a couple of times in 1-on-1. We had to help in that area. They hit on one more, but really, after that there were no more big plays, and we tackled well."
No. 4 UND vs. No. 20 South Dakota
Kickoff: 5 p.m.
Where: Alerus Center.
TV: MidcoSN (Alex Heinert on play-by-play, Ryan Kasowski analyst)
Radio: 96.1 FM (Jack Michaels on play-by-play, Tom Dosch analyst)
Streaming: The game will be available on ESPN-Plus.
Betting line: North Dakota -7.0, over-under 47.5, per Bovada.
Injuries: Other than a preseason injury to wide receiver-quarterback Brock Boltmann, UND has remained mostly healthy through two weeks. Boltmann is expected to miss his third-straight game. UND made minor changes in a Week 1 to Week 2 depth chart and has made no changes on the depth chart from Week 2 to Week 3.
The Fighting Hawks will win if: UND continues to limit offensive mistakes against a team that forced seven turnovers at Illinois State the week before. Freshman quarterback Tommy Schuster continues to limit interceptions (one this year) and stay upright (zero sacks this year). Defensively, UND adjusts from the South Dakota State game where the Fighting Hawks' secondary was gashed in the first half before tightening up in the second half. The short week comes at a terrible time for the Coyotes, who traveled to Normal, Ill., on Saturday before turning around and driving to Grand Forks.
The Coyotes will win if: the Fighting Hawks get comfortable and content with 2-0. UND plays more like its first-half versions this season and less like the second-half versions. South Dakota quarterback Carson Camp builds off his first career start last weekend and begins to find his niche in college football. Camp takes advantage of a secondary that provided a glimpse of weakness on long passes against the Jackrabbits the previous week. UND doesn't flip a script with remarkable special teams like it did against SDSU.