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Aaron Ziemer

Mavs and Bulldogs, Win Or Go Home

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Minnesota State (8-2) at Minnesota Duluth (8-2)
Last Year: 45-21, Minnesota Duluth

It is a playoff game a week early by the lake in Duluth. The conference leading Minnesota State University Mavericks have to go into Duluth to win the outright conference title from the former champions on their home field.

But the drama goes much deeper than that, the Bulldogs and Mavericks will also be playing for their playoff lives on Saturday as well. The Northern Sun will not have more than two teams in the Super Region 3 Playoffs, and with the Bulldogs and Mavericks matched up in the final week, at number six and number seven in the Super Region 3 Rankings, there is no doubting that the winner is in and the loser is probably looking at a Mineral Water Bowl appearence.

The Mavericks are coming off an impressive shutout win over Southwest Minnesota State, in which they controlled the game from the get go. Last week the Maverick ground game rushed for 274-yards led by Andy Pfeiffer and Jon Wolf, each were over 100 yards on the ground in the game. Those rushing numbers may be more of an indictment of the Mustangs struggles against the run this year though, than it is anything about what the Mavericks did.

They certainly are going to see a tougher challenge this week from the Bulldogs though. Minnesota Duluth is one of the top defense's in the Northern Sun so it is going to be much tougher sleddin for the Mavericks on Saturday. The Bulldogs are near the top in every meaningful defensive statistical category, so things are going to be a lot tougher for the Mavericks.

This is going to be a game people won't want to miss in Duluth, but I like the Bulldogs to get the win, and go into the playoffs.

EXTRA POINT: With 13-yards freshman running back Andy Pfeiffer will go over 1,000 yards on the ground this season. Upper Iowa's Chris Smith is already nearly at 1,200 yards, and Pfeiffer and Augustana's Dajon Newell could also join that club as well. Not bad for three freshmen.



MSU Moorhead (2-8) at St. Cloud State (8-2)
Last Year: 42-16, St. Cloud State

There's good news and bad news for St. Cloud State. The good news is that the Huskies still control their own destiny for getting into the playoffs, a win, and they should be in, and they welcome in a 2-8 Minnesota State Moorhead team who is rebuilding--again.

I use the word should because they are the 5th ranked team in the rankings, and they should win, however the win will decrease their strength of schedule, because it will come against a team who is 2-9. Unless you sit on the committee that determines these rankings and points, it is impossible to know how it will all turn out after all of the games are done.

The bad news, is that the Huskies had a chance to win the league on their own after their impressive win over Minnesota Duluth. However, they tripped last week against a Bemidji team who had just gone through the same thing, the two previous weeks. None of this would even be an issue, if the Huskies had beaten the Beavers, in fact, they probably have a chance to host the first round game.

I like the Huskies to beat the Dragons by the way.



Winona State (6-4) at Wayne State (7-3)
Last Year: 24-13, Winona State

Winona State clinched their 15th straight winning season last week as they went on the road and won in Bismarck. That is something a lot of other Northern Sun teams have had a very difficult time doing.

Rayon Simmons finally got that long deserved NSIC Offensive Player of the Week Award, all he had to do to get the award was to run for 539 yards and nine touchdowns in the last three weeks to accomplish that. Last week in Bismarck, Simmons erased anyone's doubts as he ran for 203 yards and four touchdowns in a hard fought 46-43 road victory for the Warriors over the Marauders.

Those kind of numbers have to make Wayne State's defense a little nervous, the Wildcats weak spot as we have discussed this year is against the run. Winona's offensive line is monsterous, and that will keep the Wildcat defense's paws full.

The only thing in my estimation that stops the Warriors this week is turnovers, the Wildcats are still leading the conference in turnovers forced with 28. That is the stat to watch this week, as I think if the Warriors don't fumble it away, they can go on the road and beat the Wildcats.

The Warriors ran for 337 yards in their win against the Wildcats last year. Since that time, the Warriors have run for 250 yards in a game four times. Also since then the Wildcats have given up more than 250 yards in a game three different times.

For that reason, I am going to go with the Warriors to hold on to the ball and get the win on the road.

We'll finish up the Northern Sun Matchups a little later tonight.

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Comments

  1. Quentin44's Avatar
    Strength of schedule is such a crazy thing, but so much better than pundits -- Minnesota State still has no votes in the AFCA poll yet is assured part of the NSIC title if not outright win after tomorrow. At least with SOS there is some consistent measure. Thanks for your postings all year.