Michigan Tech was terrible in the first half against Grand Valley State; Saturday at Northern Michigan was a completely different story in a 34-3 opening 30 minutes and 41-17 win over the rival Wildcats.
"I thought we played very well, especially the first half. One of our goals was to win (the Miner's Cup) three times in a row, and we did that - the first team to ever do that," Tech coach Tom Kearly said.
But, exactly the opposite of the previous week against GVSU, the Huskies struggled to finish strong.
"I thought we got a little sloppy in the second half, but I think that's going to happen," Kearly said.
"It's just hard to hold a big lead, you want to take clock, you want to not give up big plays, there's just a tendency to get a little bit sloppy."
Those kinds of errors are perhaps excusable in a 24-point win over a now-0-5 team, but in the bigger picture the Huskies are fighting in a five-way first-place tie in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
GVSU lost by 16 points, 40-24 - in Allendale - against what was previously a 2-2 Ferris State team.
Just like that, GVSU, Saginaw Valley, Wayne State, Hillsdale and Tech are all 4-1 in the lopsidedly difficult GLIAC North Division.
Other than the Wildcats, the North has a 26-9 conference record, while the South Division has struggled to a 14-26 record, including five teams that are 1-4 or 0-5.
Tech faces Northwood this weekend, which is 3-2 in the North, with its only losses by 10 points or less to Saginaw Valley and Wayne. After that the Huskies face Ferris, who took down GVSU; Saginaw Valley, Hillsdale and Wayne State, with all but the Hillsdale game on the road.
Obviously Tech has plenty of reasons to focus on sharpening up its play for a full 60 minutes.
"I think we have to get tighter. We have periods where we get a little bit sloppy. We have to eliminate some mess, or debris, or whatever you want to call it," Kearly said.
He pointed specifically to four special teams penalties at NMU; a 77-yard touchdown pass allowed in a game where the Huskies otherwise allowed just 186 yards of total offense; and keeping the ball for nearly 20 minutes in the second half but failing to score an offensive touchdown.
"We weren't really, really sharp. Like I told our team, we don't ever want to sit down on a Monday having gotten beat because we made one mistake that we've made before. We've got to clean the mistakes up," Kearly said.
He said the solution to that problem is to simply mentally challenge players to focus more.
"We're in a hunt now, we're in a battle and we're going to play all the other teams in that battle the next five weeks," Kearly said.
"It's going to be the team that makes the fewest mistakes and executes and plays the best football that five weeks from now is going to be in pretty good shape."
Stephen Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/steander.