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Southern Utah ready for Alerus Center noise

GRAND FORKS -- The Alerus Center can take its toll on University of North Dakota opponents. Just as UC Davis coach Bob Biggs about the 2001 Division II playoff game between the Sioux and Aggies. The atmosphere was electric -- and loud. But there ...

GRAND FORKS -- The Alerus Center can take its toll on University of North Dakota opponents.

Just as UC Davis coach Bob Biggs about the 2001 Division II playoff game between the Sioux and Aggies. The atmosphere was electric -- and loud.

But there are times when UND's dome-field advantage at the Alerus isn't as electric or loud.

Just ask Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb.

Lamb and the Thunderbirds beat UND 15-14 at the Alerus Center in 2008, a game played before more than 7,800 fans -- approximately 3,000 fewer fans than UND averaged for its four previous home games that season.

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The Alerus was eerily quiet for a Sioux home game that night against Southern Utah.

"I don't think the atmosphere will be anything like it was two years ago," said Lamb as Southern Utah prepares for a return trip to the Alerus on Saturday for its Great West Conference game against UND. "We were coming off a disappointing start and North Dakota was playing well."

UND led 14-0 at halftime in 2008 before the Thunderbirds scored 12 fourth-quarter points to take the win.

Saturday game will be UND's homecoming, likely assuring a much bigger crowd than what SUU saw in 2008.

Lamb said his team is preparing for such an environment.

"The first thing we have to take into account is to make sure we can communicate on offense and defense," Lamb said. "And we can't be intimidated by the size of the crowd and the grandeur of the stadium."

The Alerus Center turf is another matter.

The home turf of the Sioux is becoming a relic in college football.

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Lamb said he hoped to have his team practice on a turf similar to the one in the Alerus Center to get a feel for the surface.

But a bigger crowd than the one that watched the UND-SUU game two years ago shouldn't be that much of a factor.

SUU has played road games this season at Wyoming, San Jose State and Texas State. More than 20,000 fans turned out at Wyoming, while San Jose State drew 16,739 and Texas State 13,742.

SUU lost the three road games by an average of 9 points per game.

"We're a good team but we have a lousy record," Lamb said.

Nelson is the Sports Editor for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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