D2 powers UMD, MSU-Mankato open season in ESPN3 national spotlight


Football fans in Minnesota are in for a treat on the third day of September.

Not only are the Golden Gophers opening the season under the lights at TCF Bank Stadium against second-ranked Texas Christian University, but the top two Division II teams – Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State-Mankato – will go toe-to-toe in a rematch of last year's NCAA quarterfinal round.

UMD enters the season ranked No. 1 while the Mavericks from Mankato are ranked No. 2 in the preseason Sporting News Top 25 poll. The hype for the game increased significantly when ESPN3 announced it would make the matchup its national "Game of the Week," according to the Star Tribune.

In last year's DII playoffs, Minnesota State, ranked No. 1 in the country at the time, steamrolled the Bulldogs by nearly four touchdowns, 44-17. The Mavericks went on to the national championship game where it lost to Colorado State-Pueblo, 13-0.

UMD's athletics page notes that the two powers combined to go 27-2 last season – UMD finished 13-1, Minnesota State finished 14-1 – while tying for the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title.

Minnesota State and UMD finished 2-3 in the final D2Football.com Top 25 rankings last season.

Per the Star Tribune, UMD is riding a 19-game regular season winning streak; the school record is 23 straight regular season wins.

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MSU-Mankato season of triumph comes with pain

Their undefeated streak continued though their last game of the regular season. Saturday Minnesota State University-Mankato handily defeating Upper Iowa, 70-7. The season ends with an 11 and 0 record. Later today they learn who they face in the play offs. But WCCO reports that the team has gotten more attention for what happened off the field as it has for the streak of victories.