The bottom-two teams in the Great Plains Athletic Conference are coming off bye weeks, with one losing streak ready to be snapped at 1 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field.
Dakota Wesleyan University (1-8, 0-7 GPAC) fell 69-0 to No. 1 Morningside (Iowa), extending its losing streak to seven games heading into its bye week. Meanwhile, Jamestown (N.D.) has dropped three straight, including a 28-point loss to Midland (Neb.) in its last game.
Here are three things to watch for when the Tigers and Jimmies hit the gridiron.
Tigers have upper-hand in the series
Jamestown is in the midst of its second season in the GPAC, compiling a 3-13 conference record. While one of the Tigers’ two wins — and only conference win — last season came against the Jimmies (41-21), DWU’s success against them dates back prior to Jamestown’s inception.
The Tigers took down Jamestown comfortably in 2017 (49-12) and 2016 (55-17), too. Still, DWU coach Ross Cimpl doesn’t look too much into its past success.
“I don’t know if that comes into play,” Cimpl said. “We had another week to improve and get better, and that’s what we really need to do. We need to get better and we have to improve, and hopefully we did that.”
Healing up over the bye week
DWU received its first bye week of the season, and it allowed it to heal and return key offensive starters against Jamestown.
Mitchell native Kiel Nelson is back from a shoulder injury, which kept him out the past three games. He’s completed 42.3 percent of his passes for 732 yards, four touchdowns and eight interceptions this year. Backup Zachary Lester is also available after missing DWU’s loss to Morningside.
On the offensive line, Logan Busch is slated to start at center and downfield threat Garrett Determan, who has a team-high five receiving touchdowns, gives Nelson a healthier receiver group.
“Bye weeks at the end of the season aren’t traditionally great, but we needed it,” Cimpl said. “... Having all of those guys back is a huge deal. Maybe even get a guy like Lukas Chase on the field. A guy that hasn’t played all year.”
Despite intercepting Morningside quarterback Joe Dolincheck three times, DWU still sits ninth in the GPAC in turnover margin at negative-seven. Jamestown’s minus-eight turnover margin sits at the bottom of the conference.
Forcing turnovers won’t come easy, though, as only Northwestern and Morningside turn it over less frequently than the Jimmies.
“We have to keep attacking the ball at all times,” Cimpl said. “Guys attack the ball when they’re flying around and doing their job. … We need to have the consistency and have more guys around the football. If we can do that, we have a shot at turnovers.”
Jamestown’s poor turnover margin is largely due to few takeaways, but DWU’s 15 interceptions are a conference-high.