Mankato vs. Pueblo showdown puts pulled pork, green chili salsa on the line

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The lads from Mankato will use their skills with the pigskin to protect their pulled pork.

MSU Mankato will meet Colorado State-Pueblo on the football field Saturday with a national championship on the line. But that's not all at stake.

Mankato Mayor Eric Andersen announced Thursday that a "friendly challenge" has him putting up a supply of pulled pork from southern Minnesota against a case of Pueblo green chili salsa on the outcome of the Division II national championship.

Andersen accepted the challenge of Pueblo Council President Steve Nawrocki, who's no stranger to Mankato. Nawrocki attended Mankato State in the 1960s before graduating from what would become CSU-Pueblo in 1971. He tells the Pueblo Chieftan (which dug up Nawrocki's graduation photo at right) it seems a little bizarre that he went to both of the schools playing in Saturday's title game.

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That salsa Nawrocki is wagering is made from chilies that are known to aficionados around the world, according to Pueblo's website. Grown on a mesa east of town, they are the inspiration for Pueblo's Chile and Frijoles Festival, held annually in September.

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Perhaps the salsa would pair well with the smoked pulled pork from Compart Family Farms that Mayor Andersen put up in the bet – sorry, "challenge" (no wagering here).

The championship game will be played in Kansas City. The 3 p.m. kickoff means Mavericks fans don't necessarily have to spring for a hotel room, if they catch one of the 6 a.m. fan buses that will return to Mankato Saturday night, the university says.

Otherwise, fans can catch the telecast on ESPN 2.

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MSU Mankato is undefeated in Coach Todd Hoffner's return season. It's been a turbulent couple of years for Hoffner (right), who fought to get his job back after child pornography charges were filed against him and later dismissed by a court.

Colorado State-Pueblo Coach John Wristen revived the university's dormant football program in 2007 and the ThunderWolves have lost only once this season.

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