Haskell Indian Nations University's football team can claim back-to-back victories if it can beat No. 19 McPherson tonight for the first time since 1999. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Haskell Stadium.
Accomplishing that feat would take a huge weight off their shoulders, said HINU coach Eric Brock, whose team came close to defeating the Bulldogs on the road in each of the past two seasons.
McPherson spoiled Brock's debut with the Fightin' Indians (1-1) with a 24-23 overtime win in 2002, and last year the Bulldogs eked out a 20-13 victory.
"This would be the biggest game since I've been here if we get a win," Brock said. "That would prove to our guys that they can play at that level. They've played some close games before and beat some good teams, but nobody that was ranked 19th, and nobody that's just across the street in Kansas.
"There's been some close games in the past, and they know they have a great chance to win."
Besides home-field advantage this time around, Brock said HINU's greatest advantage might be that it already had played two games. Today is McPherson's season opener.
"I'm definitely glad we had two games in front of this one to work out any snags," he said. "I think it's an advantage. Some of the guys are starting to feel more comfortable in their positions, and it helps a lot with special teams, too."
Haskell appeared to have worked out any kinks from its 7-6 season-opening loss to Waldorf when it responded last week with a 57-0 shellacking of Trinity.
"From now on, things are only going to go up," Brock said. "It's just a matter of how many steps we take each time. Hopefully we'll take a big step (today)."