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Southern Utah hopes to exact another ghost

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Last week Southern Utah took sole possession of first place in the Great West Conference with a 20-7 victory over then-No. 13 Cal Poly. The Thunderbirds had lost their previous nine games to Cal Poly.

On Saturday, against South Dakota, the Thunderbirds will look to reverse another negative trend.

Although Southern Utah appears poised to capture its first Great West title, the Thunderbirds must first defeat a South Dakota team which has dominated them in each of the last two years.

In 2008, South Dakota recorded its first-ever FCS win with a 42-20 victory over the Thunderbirds.

Last season, the Thunderbirds owned a 2-1 conference record and appeared to be headed for a share of the Great West title until they suffered a 45-21 defeat at the hands of South Dakota.

"They've absolutely owned us offensively and defensively," Southern Utah head coach Ed Lamb said. "It's definitely a game from the beginning of the year we wanted to use as a measurement."

Key to South Dakota's dominance has been the running game. In 2008, three Coyotes ran for more than 100 yards. In the series, running back Chris Ganious has rushed for 360 yards and four touchdowns.

"What they've done to us is still fresh in everybody's mind," Lamb said. "It creates a lot of pressure on our defense."

This year, though, the Southern Utah defense is allowing just 133.3 rushing yards per game and appears poised to finally shut down the South Dakota attack.

10/22 16:07:09 ET