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UND, Northern Colorado both out to finish .500 in Big Sky

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college Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

GREELEY, Colo. -- The University of North Dakota will wrap up its first season in the Big Sky Conference this afternoon against a familiar opponent -- Northern Colorado.

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North Dakota doesn't have much history with the 11 other teams in the league, but Northern Colorado, a former conference opponent in the North Central Conference, is the exception. Nobody knows that more than UND defensive coordinator and associate head coach Mike Mannausau.

Mannausau's standout college career came to an end at Nottingham Field in 1998.

UND and Northern Colorado played back-to-back games to finish the 1998 season and the Bears were responsible for two of the team's three losses that season.

UNC won 14-9 in Grand Forks in the regular-season finale, then hosted North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs the following week.

The Bears routed UND in the postseason matchup 52-24, the final game for former UND coach Roger Thomas. The Bears then were coached by Joe Glenn, now the head coach at South Dakota.

The all-time series between UND and Northern Colorado is tied at 12-12, a series that dates back to 1980.

"It was my last college game, so there'll be some sentimental feelings," said Mannausau, a former UND linebacker. "But once the game starts, that's all over."

There may be a few more reminders of the past for Mannausau. Northern Colorado is honoring its 1997 Division II national championship team today. The Bears routed UND 34-7 on the last week of the 1997 season.

Lobato concerns UND

Corte McGuffey was Northern Colorado's quarterback during its tough run in the late 1990s against Mannausau and UND.

Current Bears quarterback Seth Lobato is moving up UNC's all-time list and chasing McGuffey's top marks.

Lobato needs just 138 passing yards to move into third on UNC's single-season passing list. Lobato is also fourth on the program's career passing yards list with 5,155 yards.

"When given time to throw the ball, I think (Lobato) is one of the best in the league," Mannausau said. "We need to try to pressure the quarterback. If he sits back with time, he's a lot like Southern Utah's Brad Sorensen."

UND hopes to end

on positive note

UND only has to look back to last season to see how a strong finish in the regular-season finale can affect the offseason.

UND is 3-4 in the Big Sky and 5-5 overall and wants to end its first season in the Big Sky with a .500 league record and an overall winning mark. UNC also is 3-4 and has won three of its last four.

North Dakota's come-from-behind last-minute win over South Dakota in the Alerus Center last season gave UND an 8-3 record, a share of the Great West Conference title and a good deal of momentum.

"I had a lot better feeling beating South Dakota for the next few months than I would have if we lost," UND offensive coordinator Greg Breitbach said. "It can propel you. Find a way to win and take it into the offseason into recruiting and spring ball."

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