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Cedar City • Southern Utah finally gets a chance to pick on somebody its own size Saturday night at Eccles Coliseum.
After opening with losses against Utah State and California, the Thunderbirds open their home season against New Mexico Highlands. Outscored 84-34 by the Aggies and Golden Bears, Southern Utah should match up well against the Cowboys, who play in the Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
On the other hand, New Mexico Highlands is already 2-0 with wins over Eastern New Mexico and Fort Lewis by a combined score of 96-14.
The Cowboys have caught SUU coach Ed Lamb's attention.
"It's business as usual for us," he said. "As the weeks go along, it's every coach's job to prepare specifically for the task at hand. And all it takes is a little film study to see that New Mexico Highlands is a very good football team."
According to Lamb, the Utah State and Cal games did exactly what he hoped when they were booked.
Despite its 0-2 start, Southern Utah made "significant" improvement as a team, which will help during its first season in the Big Sky Conference.
"Our focus, from the beginning, has been conference play," Lamb said.
The rugged schedule will help future recruiting in addition to padding Southern Utah's bank account.
"It's become part of our recruiting philosophy," Lamb explained. "We let players know they're going to play the very best [opponents] we can find. ... To score a touchdown or have a tackle for loss in a Pac-12 stadium, those memories will last a lifetime."
N.M. Highlands vs. Southern Utah
P At Eccles Coliseum (Cedar City)
Kickoff • 6 p.m. TV • None. Radio • 91.1 FM
Records • N.M. Highlands, 2-0; Southern Utah, 0-2
Series • Southern Utah leads 20-15-1
Last meeting • SUU 55, NMH 25 (1988)
About the Thunderbirds • They have won all four home openers under coach Ed Lamb. ... After struggling in the season opener at Utah State, senior QB Brad Sorensen completed 31 of 45 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns last week at Cal.
About the Cowboys • They have beaten Eastern New Mexico (42-14) and Fort Lewis (50-0). ... They have piled up 1,010 yards of offense in two games.