No One Is Perfect As We Move To Week 5
by, 09-28-2011 at 02:17 PM (1005 Views)
There are no more unbeaten teams as we move into Week 5 of the Division II college football season.
Although there aren't a ton of marquis matchups on the schedule this week, there is no question there is more parity in the conference than there ever has been. The Elite Powers (Minnesota Duluth, Augustana) don't appear to be quite as strong as they have been. St. Cloud State and Bemidji State have certainly closed the gap on those, and it looks like Minnesota State is back in the mix near the top as well, plus after disappointing week one performances Wayne State and Winona State are back in the mix as well.
There is no question it is going to be an interesting finish to the NSIC football season, with most everybody in must win situations, to qualify for the playoffs.
Let's start this week looking at one of those teams looking for a run to the playoffs.
Northern State (1-3) at St. Cloud State (3-1)
Last Year: 42-10, St. Cloud State
St. Cloud State opened up the ground attack last week in Bismarck rushing for 354 yards in the game against the University of Mary. The Huskies had two running backs over 100-yards last week for the first time since 2009. Dante Steward rushed for 134-yards, while sophomore Michael Walker ran for 101-yards, additionally though the Huskies had a third right on the cusp of it as well as Brandon Geiss ran 12 times for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns as well. In all the Huskies averaged nearly 7-yards a carry on the day.
That came at a good time for the Huskies who came off of their loss to Winona State the week before. It was time to get back to basics for St. Cloud as they got back to running the ball with effectiveness.
For Northern the Wolves literally handed the game last week to Wayne State. Six turnovers, including four lost fumbles on the afternoon in Aberdeen is what cost them the game against the Wildcats. That kind of afternoon makes winning virtually impossible. Coach Tom Dosch did get a little tricky on the afternoon though, putting linebacker Mike Bogdanovich into the game as a running back. The Senior scored the only touchdown of the games for the Wolves, a four yard touchdown run for his first career touchdown. Certainly a positive highlight on what was a down day for the Wolves.
It's going to take a lot more than gimmicks like that though if the Wolves want to beat the Huskies, who are hungry for another playoff run. Northern is going to have to hang on to the football first and foremost. If they don't correct that after last week, there is no other stat or info we need to look at, no one has been better at taking the football away than St. Cloud's defense over the last year and a half.
If they do that, they'll also have and figure out how to stop St. Cloud State. Just when you think you have the Huskies figured out, they find a new way to beat you, as evidenced by the ground attack last week.
More importantly, the Wolves are actually going to have to force turnovers and mistakes if there is any hope for them, and that's not something I am sure they can do against St. Cloud.
Basically for St. Cloud it is about making sure they aren't looking past this one with the big homecoming...err ummm...I mean with the game against Minnesota State on the horizon next week.
I will take the Huskies to start their homestand with a victory.
Extra Point: St. Cloud State has won 11-straight in the series between the Huskies and the Wolves, Northern's last win came back during the 1947 season.
Concordia (2-2) at Augustana (1-3)
Last Year:22-16 Augustana
Augustana got the win they needed on Saturday beating Southwest Minnesota State 37-24 in a game in Marshall.
However, from what I saw, this is not the Vikings team from last year that physically dominated opposing teams. This year's team is much different and instead of being physically dominant like last season is much more prone to mistakes, whether its silly or foolish penalties, turnovers, or what have you, they don't have the margin of error and need to play more disciplined.
The Vikings took advantage of a few miscues that Southwest made and turned those mistakes into points. First it was a blown coverage that led to a 64-yard touchdown strike from Josh Hanson to a wide open Sam Holsen. Then it was a bad snap and illegal kick penalty on Southwest that set Augustana up on first and goal from the Mustang two yard line, resulting in a Viking touchdown on the next play, and thirdly it was an interception return by Dan O'Keefe that really allowed the Vikings to put the game away.
Those mistakes by Southwest were enough to overcome 12-penalties for 121 yards in the game by Augustana. In fact, though when looking at what has been going on with the Vikings this season, you have to look no further than things like that penalties, Augustana has been penalized 31-times for 285 yards through four games this season. That's far too many for Coach Aldrich, and even he readily has admitted that mistakes doomed them during their 0-3 start.
This week, they will take on a Concordia team, who's defense let them down last week in a 57-34 loss to Minnesota State. The Golden Bears are still meandering their way through injuries at the quarterback position, but Jared Russo is quickly becomming seasoned. The red shirt freshman has played in all five games this season, and has seen significant playing time in four of them. He is expected to start his third career game on Saturday against the Vikings. Russo is coming off his first career 300 yard passing game last week as well.
The tough part about this game is that both of these defenses will take chances, they like to blitz and shut down the run and get after the quarterback. That can create a few big plays defensively, it also can allow the offense bigger play opportunities.
Throughout the last few years this has been an even series, Augustana has won just four of the seven meetings, and there's no question that the Golden Bears like playing Augie.
Expect a battle, but if they have to score more than 30, I would probably take Augie, but I have a sneaking suspicisou that Concordia is going to pull this one out. I will take the Golden Bears.
Extra Point: Something has to give, Augustana has won the last three in the series over Concordia, but is winless at home.
Bemidji State (2-1) at Upper Iowa (2-2)
Last Year: 51-12, Bemidji State
Last week Upper Iowa's defense gave up 677 yards of total offense, they gave up 376-yards rushing, and 301-yards in the air, and Winona State, put up 72 points on the Peacocks as well.
That's a nightmare, for any coach, well if that was a night mare, I almost shutter to think about what might happen this week when Bemidji State makes the roadtrip this week to face the Peacocks.
While things got a little tougher for on the ground for Bemidji last week when they took on the University of Minnesota Duluth, rushing for just 141 yards instead of the 437 they rushed for against Southwest, I have a feeling the loss is only going to serve as motivation for the Beavers.
I am not saying that Bemidji is going to run for 437 yards again, or even rush for the 376 that Upper Iowa gave up last week, I am simply saying that I don't think this is going to be super enjoyable for the Peacock defense, having to try to stop that Bemidji rushing attack.
I am going to take Bemidji.