Tiffin University traveling to Iowa to face South Dakota team

Tiffin University fans may be wondering why their team is traveling all the way to Iowa to play a non-conference game against a team from South Dakota in the middle of the season.

The answer begins with Notre Dame College.

Notre Dame was a football member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference a year ago, traveling to Tiffin and losing to the Dragons last fall.

Tiffin would have made a visit to Euclid this season, had Notre Dame not pulled out of the GLIAC after 2012.

With the Falcons leaving the conference, it created a vacancy on TU’s schedule.

“We had to find a game towards the end of the season like this because Notre Dame left the conference,” Dragons coach Gary Goff said. “I definitely want to play 11 games, not 10. The guys work too hard to only play 10.

“The only [school] we could find that doesn’t have a conference game was another Division II school, South Dakota Mines.

The full name of the Dragons opponent today is the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. A D-II independent, the program holds a 4-2 record, along with perhaps the coolest nickname in North American Collegiate sports – the Hardrockers.

“We shared the last three games [film], so we had to break them down,” Goff said. “It is a little bit different, because neither one of us knows anything about each other, but we do share film, so we do have a chance to break down their tendencies and they’ll do the same with us.”

That’s challenging enough, but then there’s the travel. Because of the distance between the two campuses, the schools agreed to meet what Goff said was “halfway.”

The teams will travel to Des Moines, Iowa., and compete at Drake University. It’s roughly a nine hour bus ride for TU.

On the bright side, it’s still not as long a trip as Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech, and those are conference rivals.

“It’s a challenge to overcome the trip, obviously,” Goff said. “You know everybody in the GLIAC pretty well. You don’t know someone on the other side of the nation.”

So what does Goff know about the Hardrockers?

“They’ve played two NAIA teams,” Goff said. “They’ve played a really good team in Colorado School of the Mines, I know the head coach out there.”

The Hardrockers lost that game 72-6.

“(The Hardrockers) are 4-2, they’re a team with confidence. I’m sure they’re looking at us, saying ‘Hey, we can’t wait to play them, because (Tiffin’s) not very good right now.’

“That’s not the case. I think we are still practicing good, we’re playing hard. We’re executing, and we’re kind of looking forward to getting out there and playing.”

Tiffin comes into the game 1-5.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m.