Decisive Week 4 In NSIC
by, 09-22-2011 at 12:20 PM (1813 Views)
Well continuing our look at the weekend ahead in the NSIC, there are still four matchups to preview.
Augustana (0-3) at Southwest Minnesota State (1-2)
Last Year: 53-21, Augustana
1991, that is the last time the Augustana Vikings started a season 0-3, on that year, the Vikings finished the season 0-10, and by the way, it included the Vikings last loss to Southwest Minnesota State.
There is no question that the most disappointing team so far in the Northern Sun has been the Vikings. I could understand the losses to Minnesota Duluth and Bemidji State, but to be shutout by the University of Mary in Week 3, I am at a loss for words. Just the week earlier, Mary gave up 48-points and over 500 yards and lost to Southwest Minnesota State.
Mistakes have proven costly to the Vikings in all three of their losses so far according to Vikings coach Mike Aldrich. Offensively, Augie has lost costly turnovers, made costly penalties, or in last week's case, missed some big and very makeable field goals. Aldrich says those miscues have the Vikings low on confidence offensively, especially when it comes to finishing drives.
For Augustana the problem I thnk really starts with what has been an inability to run the football. Through three games, Augustana has been averaging a meager 1.7 yards per carry.
On the other side of the ball, Southwest has some major problems defensively. The Mustangs gave up 437 yards on the ground last week against Bemidji State. The Beavers weren't tricky about it either, they ran the ball 60-times compared to just 14 pass attempts and basically told Southwest they were going to run all over them--and they did.
In fact, in looking at the numbers the last two opponents (Mary and Bemidji State) have put up over 1,000 yards of offense against the Mustangs. Its impossible to know how that will go between the Vikings run game, which has been ineffective and the Mustangs rush defense, which has been largely nonexistent the last few weeks.
Look for that to be the key that decides the game, but for the Mustangs there is more to be conerned about. Injuries have hit the offensive unit, and quarterback Tyler Peschong may be a game time decision for Southwest as he injured his shoulder against Bemidji. Peschong finished the game, but has been limited in practice this week. If he can't go, SMSU turns to redshirt freshman Charlie Kern to play quarterback.
With that hanging over the Mustangs offense, and a defense that has struggled, I don't see a victory over Augustana on homecoming. I think the Augustana will get the win over Southwest.
Extra Point: Augustana has won 13-straight in the series, including a 29-6 win over Southwest in 2009, the last time they played in Marshall, which ironically was on Homecoming.
St. Cloud State (2-1) at Mary (2-1)
Last Year: 30-14, St. Cloud State
Five turnovers in one half of football will cause a loss for just about any team in the Northern Sun, including one that was thought to be its best.
That is what happened to St. Cloud State last week on the road in Winona sparking the Warriors to run off 17 unanswered points in the second half and knock off the Huskies 29-16.
All of a sudden every game becomes very important for the Huskies who had goals of a deep playoff run on their mind in 2011.
On the other side of the ball, the University of Mary regained form after a loss at Southwest, in which they gave up 48 points to shutout Augustana at home. In fact, the Marauders are 2-0 at home and they have beaten some pretty good teams when you consider Chadron State and Augustana are the two teams they have beaten at home so far.
It will be interesting to see which Mary defense that Phillip Klaphake and the Husky offense will see. WIll they see the unit that gave up just 56-yards on the ground to Augustana last week, or the won that got buzzed for 550 total yards and 48-points against Southwest?
St. Cloud is going to be a tougher test for Mary at home though than either of their two home challenges. They have a very balanced running attack, and a balanced passing attack, and against Southwest they were hurt by 89-yards on the ground by Mustang quarterback Tyler Peschong. To me that shows a weakness, that could come back to cost them against Klaphake, who I think is right up near the top of the pack in NSIC quarterbacks.
With one loss in the books already for St. Cloud State and NSIC North Division games on the schedule between Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth remaining you had better believe this is a MUST WIN game for St. Cloud if they want to be thought of as contenders for the playoffs. It won't be easy for the Huskies but I think they will get the Marauders on the road.
Extra Point: Thumbs down to St. Cloud State's administration for the second straight year. Last year during the football season they talk about cutting the sport, and this week President Potter announced there would be no Homecoming. Seems to me like someone really hates football.
Minnesota State (2-1) at Concordia St. Paul (2-1)
Last Year: 28-26
Entering the day on September 18th of 2010, Concordia was 2-1 on the season, their only wins came over NAIA opponent Minot State and over a struggling Northern State program. They had to travel down to Mankato, and take on a Minnesota State team that looked thoroughly dominant in the NSIC South in 2009.
Surely, this was the week that Minnesota State would distance themselves from the rest of the division, right? Wrong! Instead it was a day, that Concordia used as momentum into the rest of the season, which ended in a trip to the Mineral Water Bowl.
Concordia scored 28-points in the second and third quarters combined and used that momentum to hold on to a 28-26 win over the Mavericks last season. Looking back at it, that was the game that let the rest of the conference know they had to look out for Concordia.
This year things might be a little different for Concordia, they host the Mavericks on Homecoming and expect to enter the game with redshirt freshman Jared Russo making his second career start at quarterback. Last week, in his first start, Russo shook off the five interceptions he threw against St. Cloud to rebound nicely, to throw three touchdowns against Northern State and help lead the Bears to a badly needed win.
After a week 1 loss to Northern Michigan the Mavericks have given up just 10-points in the last eight quarters. Yeah, you can do the math, that's impressive. The Mavreicks have been adequate against the rush, but here is the stat that should have Concordia and Russo concerned, they are allowing just 88-yards a game through the air.
The NSIC's Defensive Player of the Week Chris Schaudt already has four sacks on the year, in fact he leads a Maverick Defense which through three games has gotten to the quarterback seven times, and already has recorded 23 tackles for loss on the year.
That will make it tough for the redshirt freshman, Russo, he and the Golden Bears could be in for a long day. I am going to take the Mavericks.
Extra Point: Off his 4-touchdown pass performance last week Maverick quarterback Jon Daniels has eight touchdown passes on the season. Last year, no Maverick quarterback finished the season with more than 11.
Minnesota Crookston (1-2) at MSU Moorhead (1-2)
Last Year: 48-13, MSU Moorhead
Up until last week, Minnesota Crookston looked like they had made some big steps in their program, but lost handily to Minnesota State 42-0.
MSU Moorhead lloked to have been a little better than I had expected so far, as they gave Upper Iowa a pretty good fight last week, losing 45-31, but then I looked a little deeper apparently it was 42-17 at the end of three quarters.
Both clubs are under first year coaches who are trying to turn around habitual losing programs.
The Dragons are going to have a tough time stopping UMC's Richard Haley. He ran for nearly 90-yards in the loss last week to Mankato, and has rushed for 467-yards already this year. I think he will make the difference in a road win for Minnesota Crookston.