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November 23, 2014

From the press box, a weekly look at the Northern Sun

The good, the bad, and the ugly, last Saturday’s football schedule had a little bit of it all. Records fell in Marshall, the rain turned one of the remaining grass fields in the conference into a mud pit, a coach got his first career win, and there were a few upsets mixed in.

All in all, it will be pretty tough to top what went down last Saturday in the Northern Sun.

Let’s start with the good, Southwest Minnesota State wide receiver Anthony Dean was named D2Football.com’s offensive player of the week. Dean had a career high 11 catches, for a conference record 308 yards and tied a school record four touchdowns. While his Mustang teammates broke a Northern Sun record for yardage, with 828 yards. Did I mention the Mustangs lost Saturday night? In fact, the yardage set an NCAA Division II record for most yards gained in a loss.

More good news, Minnesota Crookston coach Mike Fritze picked up his first win as head coach of the Golden Eagles, 16-14 over Bemidji State, and did so on a well, messy day in Crookston. Certainly the Golden Eagle win qualifies as an upset, it is the first time they have beaten Bemidji in the tenth “Battle for the Hubcap.”

Other notes, Minnesota State Moorhead picked up an upset win last week at Northern State, marking the first time the Dragons had won in Aberdeen since 2002.

There are some interesting story lines to watch this week though as well. Minnesota State-Mankato comes into Saturday’s game at Augustana ranked number two in the country in both the American Football Coaches Association Top 25 poll, and the D2Football.com poll. Valdosta State, this week’s number one, lost on Thursday night, meaning in Minnesota State wins, they will likely be ranked as the #1 team in division II football.

 

Augustana (2-3) at Minnesota State University Manakto (5-0)

The Vikings were beaten at home last week by Wayne State, they will have another chance at home this week, though the opponent is even tougher.

MSU won their 400th game in program history, beating Concordia 27-7 on Saturday.

The Mavericks with a win could become the new top ranked division two college football team in both polls, with Valdosta State’s loss.

Maverick quarterback Jon Wolf leads his team in rushing, but the good news for the Vikings is their defense is one of the toughest in the conference against the run, giving up just 100 yards a game, and the defense played well last week in their loss to Wayne State.

Saturday’s meeting is the 44th between the two schools, Minnesota State has won the last four home games against the Vikings, and won in Sioux Falls 52-14 last year.

 

Winona State (3-2) at Sioux Falls (3-2)

It’s a battle of two of the top freshman quarterbacks in the Northern Sun.

Cougar freshman quarterback Luke Papillion. He threw two touchdowns and ran for three more last week for the Cougars. He is tied for second in the nation in touchdowns to this point in the season.

The Warriors have won three straight since their first 0-2 start since 2002. Their own freshman quarterback Jack Nelson threw for a career best 333 yards and three touchdowns last week.

Sioux Falls’ defense is going to get another test, just a week after giving up all of those yards to Southwest, the Warriors will have to face a Winona team that has put up at least 49 points in their last three games, all victories.

 

Concordia (3-2) at Upper Iowa (3-2)

Seven times these two teams have met previously, and all seven times the Golden Bears have gotten the better of the Peacocks. Although the last few have been battles right down to the end.

Expect the same on Saturday in Fayette, Iowa because these are two of the most improved teams in the Northern Sun. While they are fairly similar defensively, the Peacocks have been a lot more explosive and a lot more consistent offensively. When they lose games its because they aren’t careful with the football, see last week’s loss at Winona State.

Concordia struggled to move the ball last week against Minnesota State. They were held scoreless until about the three minute mark. Upper Iowa’s defense is equally tough.

The key will be if the Golden Bear defense can force some turnovers. Zach Moore and company will need to get pressure on Cole Jaeschke.

The winner of this game, has doubled their win total from a year ago.