The Dakota Marker trophy, established when South Dakota State and North Dakota State moved from the Division II North Central Conference to the Division I-AA (now known as FCS) level and turned to each other for a rivalry, has become one of the top rivalries in FCS football in short order.
Both teams are perennial contenders at the national level. The Bison are the gold standard, winners of eight national championships between 2011-2019, but the Jackrabbits probably play them tougher than anyone. They beat them last year in Fargo, bringing the Marker back to Brookings.
NDSU leads the Dakota Marker series 10-7 (playoff games don't count toward the trophy total).
Here's a look back at those 17 meetings:
2004: SDSU 24, NDSU 21 in Brookings
Brad Nelson hit Chris Molitor for a 22-yard touchdown with 39 seconds left to lift the Jacks to the win in the first battle ever for the Dakota Marker trophy.
2005: NDSU 41, SDSU 17 in Fargo
After SDSU scored on each of its first two possessions to take a 14-7 lead, NDSU finished the game on a 34-3 run, led by Kyle Steffes’ 141 yards and three touchdowns rushing.
2006: NDSU 41, SDSU 28 in Fargo
A back-and-forth game that decided the Great West Football Conference title, NDSU took control late, then put it away on an 84-yard punt return by Travis White.
2007: SDSU 29, NDSU 24 in Brookings
SDSU claimed the GWFC title with the win, going ahead on a 42-yard touchdown run by Cory Koenig after the Bison had stormed back from down 20-3 to take a 24-23 lead.
2008: SDSU 25, NDSU 24 in Fargo
The Jacks scored a late would-be game-tying touchdown, but on the road at the Fargodome, they decided to go for two and the win. Ryan Berry connected with Mike Steffen to stun the crowd silent and give SDSU their second straight win in the series.
2009: SDSU 28, NDSU 13 in Brookings
The Jacks scored their most convincing Division I win over NDSU against a rebuilding Bison squad (they’d go 3-8 that season). Kyle Minett rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns to give SDSU its third straight – and last – win over the Bison.
2010: NDSU 31, SDSU 24 in Fargo
The Bison picked off four Thomas O’Brien passes and returned two of them for scores, going up by 17 before the Jacks added two late scores, their comeback coming up short.
2011: NDSU 38, SDSU 14 in Brookings
The Bison sandwiched runs of 17-0 and 21-0 around a touchdown run by a freshman running back named Zach Zenner. Dale Moss caught seven passes for 111 yards in the loss.
2012: NDSU 20, SDSU 17 in Fargo
NDSU took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and held on in a defensive battle that saw the teams combine for less than 500 yards of offense. A late touchdown pass by Austin Sumner pulled the Jacks within three, but the Bison recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
2013: NDSU 20, SDSU 0 in Brookings
A punishing Bison defense held SDSU to -32 net yards rushing while picking up 262 yards on the ground themselves. Zach Zenner had eight carries for 1 yard.
2014: NDSU 37, SDSU 17 in Fargo
A Zach Zenner touchdown run early in the fourth quarter pulled the Jacks within a field goal at 20-17. NDSU would then close the game on a 17-0 run, highlighted by a pair of John Crockett touchdown runs. He ran for 152 yards in the game, while junior quarterback Carson Wentz ran for 100.
2015: NDSU 28, SDSU 7 in Brookings
In a battle of top-five teams, SDSU’s offense never got going against a punishing Bison defense in a game that was never close. Carson Wentz ran for 54 yards and a score and threw for another 183 and a touchdown, while the Bison defense held the Jacks to -4 rushing yards and got three sacks from Greg Menard.
2016: SDSU 19, NDSU 17 in Fargo
Taryn Christion's 2-yard touchdown pass to Jake Wieneke with one second left on the clock brought the Marker back to Brookings for the first time since 2009.
Though the Jacks needed a last-second score to win, they dominated much of the game, coming up empty in three red zone opportunities, which nearly cost them the game.
Christion was the catalyst, rushing for 141 yards and throwing for 303.
2017: SDSU 33, NDSU 21 in Brookings
The Jackrabbit defense pulled off a rare feat in this one — they made Easton Stick and the Bison offense look ordinary. SDSU picked off Stick three times, forced five turnovers and held NDSU to 337 yards of offense to keep the Marker in Brookings for another year with a convincing win.
SDSU salted away the win with a Bison-like drive, going 86 yards in 11 plays and running seven minutes off the clock before Christion connected with Dallas Goedert on a 19-yard touchdown that clinched the win.
2018: NDSU 21, SDSU 17 in Fargo
SDSU made a spirited effort to keep the Marker in Brookings for a third straight year, but Easton Stick and Co. would not be denied.
Trailing 14-7 at the half, the Jacks scored 10 straight points in the third quarter to go in front, with a 61-yard touchdown run by Isaac Wallace giving them the lead. But Stick would direct an eight-play, 80-yard drive and take in a 5-yard touchdown run to put NDSU back in the lead at 21-17, and the Bison defense made it stick.
2019: NDSU 23, SDSU 16 in Brookings
With ESPN’s College Gameday on hand for the pregame to hype the first sellout in the history of Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, the third-ranked Jacks and top-ranked, unbeaten Bison staged another classic.
SDSU led 6-3 at halftime on a pair of Chase Vinatieri field goals, but the Bison took control with a pair of third-quarter touchdowns – a 59-yard run by Ty Brooks and a 6-yard pass between future NFL’ers Trey Lance and Ben Ellefson.
The Jacks lost starting quarterback J’Bore Gibbs to what would prove to be a season-ending injury, however, and eventually had to turn to true freshman Keaton Heide, whose late touchdown run tied the game at 16. But an Adam Cofield 71-yard run with 2:32 to go proved to be the go-ahead score, and NDSU escaped with the win on their way to a 16-0, national championship season.
2020/21: SDSU 27, NDSU 17 in Fargo
A game that was delayed twice, first by the 2020 season getting pushed back to the spring by COVID-19, and later postponed a month due to positive cases in the Bison program, SDSU finally made the trip to the Fargodome on April 17, and the Jacks never trailed in earning a win that ultimately catapulted them to the No. 1 seed in the FCS playoffs and their first trip to Frisco for the national championship game (which they would lose to Sam Houston State).
With the teams tied at 17 heading to the fourth quarter, SDSU would take the lead on a 24-yard Cole Frahm field goal at the end of a 9-minute drive, then put the game away on a 5-yard score by Isaiah Davis with 2:50 to go, bring the marker back to Brookings, where it resides today.
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Dakota Marker games: North Dakota State leads South Dakota State 10-7