The Dakota Marker is the trophy awarded to the winner of the annual football game played between the rival Division I Championship Subdivision North Dakota State University Bison and the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits. Both schools are members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
The trophy is a model replica of the quartzite monuments that marked the border between North and South Dakota when Dakota Territory was split into 2 states along the Seventh Standard Parallel (45°56'07" N). The monuments were seven feet tall and ten inches square at the top, and were mined and inscribed near Sioux Falls. 720 markers were placed at half-mile intervals along the border by Charles Bates in the summers of 1891 and 1892. The monuments were inscribed with the initials "N.D." on the north side and "S.D." on the south side.
The trophy itself was proposed by Adam Jones, then-President of the NDSU Chapter of Blue Key National Honor Society, and was unveiled to the public on April 21, 2004 at a ceremony just outside Hankinson, North Dakota, a community near the North Dakota/South Dakota border.
The inscriptions include: N.D., S.D., and 190 M (the distance between Fargo, ND and Brookings, SD along Interstate 29). The trophy weighs nearly 75 pounds and is commonly carried around the field immediately after the game's conclusion by the winning team.
NDSU and SDSU had regularly played each other for several decades as members of the Division II North Central Conference. In 2004, the move by both schools to Division I FCS prompted the creation of the trophy, as both schools lost their primary in-state rivals (NDSU/UND and SDSU/USD) who both remained in Division II at the time. Both teams became members of the newly formed Great West Football Conference, and the annual NDSU/SDSU game took on more importance from a regional bragging rights standpoint as the "closest neighbor" football rivalry. The series continued when both teams joined the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2008.
The Dakota Marker series currently stands in favor of NDSU 8–5. SDSU is currently in possession of the trophy after winning the latest game in the regular season series (a 19–17 victory in Fargo on 10/15/16), although the Bison own the latest win, a 36-10 playoff victory in December 2016. Prior to the recent win by the Jackrabbits, NDSU had won the last six trophy meetings (and the last eight games against SDSU overall). Since the inception of the series, the home team has won eight of the thirteen Marker games.
The two teams have now met 106 times in their history, and the Bison lead the overall series 60–41, with 5 ties. Their 100th meeting was the first time they met in the playoffs (2012), with the Bison claiming a 28–3 victory. Overall, the Bison are 36–14 vs SDSU in Fargo with 3 ties (including the playoff victories in 2012, 2014 and 2016), and the Jackrabbits are 27–24 against NDSU in Brookings, with 2 ties. The series includes 17 straight wins by the Bison from 1976–1992.
NOTE: The Marker was not at stake in the December 1, 2012 playoff game, a 28–3 NDSU win in Fargo, or in the December 6, 2014 playoff game, a 27–24 NDSU win in Fargo, or in the December 10, 2016 playoff game, a 36–10 NDSU win in Fargo.