Another week and another win for Minnesota State University. The Mavericks remain as the number one team in NCAA Division II football according to both major polls.
This week there are not a ton of great match ups this week. The biggest is probably for MSU again as they get ready to host their rival Winona State.
Winona State (5-2) at MSU Mankato (7-0)
A combined 12 wins in a row is on the line when Winona State meets Minnesota State Mankato. The Warriors off their first 0-2 start since 2002 have rebounded to win five straight games. While the Mavericks once again showed just how good they can be last week as they beat up on Southwest Minnesota State to move to 7-0.
Saturday the two rivals will meet in Mankato. Neither team has lost a game in the NSIC South Division, so there's a lot on the line.
The Mavericks intercepted six passes on Saturday night in Marshall, as they built a 35-0 lead in the first half. Winona will have to figure out how to contend with that explosiveness on both ends of the ball. The MSU defense can change games, and even seasons with how they get after the quarterback.
With as tough as the Mustang offense is, Winona's is a bit stronger. The Warriors lead the Northern Sun in scoring at 43.7 points a game, and are 14th nationally. That will be a tough test for the Maverick defense which endorsed the bend but don't break approach last week, turning Southwest away on five drives that got inside the MSU 35.
The bigger challenge for Winona will be on the other side of the ball. The Maverick offense is about as simple as it gets in college football. MSU relies on their superior talent to make plays, and they do. Last week MSU ran for 383 yards in the game. Running back Conner Thomas ran for 153 yards while quarterback Jon Wolf ran for 112 yards, the two combined to score five touchdowns.
The Warriors will have to deal with that rushing attack a week after giving up 41 points and 520 yards to Wayne State.
University of Mary (4-3) at MSU Moorhead (1-6)
The annual Battle for the Paddle gets played this week in Moorhead.
The Marauders have never lost to the Dragons. MSUM has been in a lot of games this year, but haven't found a way to win very many. Of their six losses on the season, three of them have been by seven points or less.
The biggest problem for the Mavericks has been their defense, the Dragons are giving up an average of 306 yards a game on the ground, and 23 rushing touchdowns. They are also giving up nearly 44 points a game, which has been tough for even their offense to keep up with.
I don't know that I would expect a low scoring game this week either.
Despite falling to St. Cloud State last week, Mary out gained the Huskies, and like the Dragons likes to run a fast tempo, no huddle offense.
To win their eighth straight in the series the Marauders should focus on running the football. That will keep a little pressure off of their quarterback Craig Bagnell and Dariouse Gravely and Vince Ferrante an opportunity to run. So far on the year, Mary has rushed for only 527 yards.
Concordia St. Paul (3-4) at Wayne State (2-5)
The Wildcats have given up 100 points in the last two weeks. A 55-16 loss at home to Southwest Minnesota State and a 45-41 loss to Winona State last week.
That is good news for Concordia, who like the Wildcats have lost each of their last two.
Senior running back Ronald Zollicoffer had his first career 100 yard rushing game last week. The senior ran for 119 yards on 15 carries, including a 43 yard touchdown scamper.
Concordia's defense is going to have to play well, the Golden Bears have struggled to score points, and Wayne can be a little inconsistent offensively. Last week though Charles Davidson ran for 189 yards on 24 carries. Also junior wide receiver Adam Stark is the Wildcats deep threat, he had a career high nine catches for 162 yards and two scores.
Those two playmakers will be a challenge for the Golden Bears defense. That defense will have to play well to keep them in the game.