OUR VIEW: Maybe the SDSU-USD magic has been lost
We suppose University of Nebraska fans think it's cute that our entire state seemed so enamored with the renewal of the University of South Dakota-South Dakota State football game.
Nebraska regularly draws 85,000 fans or more to every game. The Cornhuskers have sold out their stadium for 320-plus consecutive games.
Meanwhile, the expected record-breaking crowd -- the great sea of humanity expected to overcome the Brookings campus of SDSU on Saturday -- numbered 15,278.
SDSU won 31-8 in a contest that was as exciting as could be expected when a 1-9 team (USD) plays on the road against a 7-3 team (SDSU).
We're glad that these teams have renewed their rivalry after a nine-year hiatus. This match-up is fun, and no doubt good for South Dakotans who have even a passing interest in football.
Yet we must note that the game attendance was only the seventh best ever achieved at SDSU, and only 312 fans more than the Jacks' homecoming game last month against a Pennsylvania team.
Was this otherwise nondescript rivalry game -- again, featuring teams with vastly different levels of success this year -- a product of simple media hype?
Do students not really care much about the rivalry? Keep in mind that the last time SDSU and USD played, SDSU's enrollment was less than 11,000.
Today, it's 12,583, and the game was the most-promoted South Dakota football game in years, yet it didn't break an attendance record. It makes us wonder why.
Has North Dakota State University really become SDSU's true rival? That would seem to be the case, given the excitement over the Dakota Marker trophy that the two teams battle for and the bets made between politicians in the states.
SDSU and NDSU made the Division I leap together and were without games against their in-state rivals in recent years, so the rivalry between the two schools grew.
Also, both schools have been highly successful in recent seasons, which adds to the atmosphere of the games. When they played this year, a conference title was up for grabs.
Maybe SDSU's facility is another factor. It's stretched to the limit, and there aren't many places to put additional fans once the crowd reaches 15,000.
Perhaps a new or improved stadium, which SDSU is seeking, would draw a bigger crowd.
It's likely, too, that the SDSU-USD rivalry will get better with time, and with improvement in USD's football program.
Or, maybe the magic that was the SDSU-USD Division II rivalry is lost forever, to be replaced or at least rivaled by South Dakotans' desire to show up their neighbor to the north on the national Division I stage.