The No.8 Minnesota State Mavericks hit the road to play the No. 23 Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs on Saturday, September 16.
Despite the three-game winning streak the Mavericks currently hold over the Bulldogs, UMD is 20-16-1 all-time against the Mavs and this will be a tough road team to play. The Bulldogs were down 21-17 to Upper Iowa last week before they came back and won the game 33-21. The two-headed running back duo of Anthony Wood and Austin Sylvester combined for 162 rushing yards and a score.
“I don’t think we prepare different because I don’t think we let up in practice the last two weeks,” said Maverick running back Nate Gunn on the preparation for Duluth. “So I think we go in with the same game plan, run the football and those guys up front keep doing what they’re doing and it should be a good football game.”
While the running game played well last week, the offense tends to be more pass-heavy, with 262 of the 328 yards on offense that the team averages coming from the passing attack lead by Minnesota Duluth quarterback John Larson. On the other hand, the Mavericks will look to grind the game out, averaging 540 yards of offense per game, with 356 of those yards coming on the rushing attack. On the offensive side of the ball, the Mavericks just need to grind out scoring drives and slow the game down, putting pressure on the UMD offense to produce. Another game like last weekend’s 440 yards of rushing explosion would be just what the doctor ordered.
On the defensive side, the Bulldogs gives up 524 total yards on average to opponents and let up 23.5 points per game to the opposition. The Mavericks also let up their fair share of yardage, at 596 per game but stiffen up in the red zone, only allowing 13 points per game to their opponents. They have outscored opponents 91-26 in the opening pair of games and have outscored teams 57-13 in the first half of those games. This team comes out and hits their opponents in the mouth from the opening quarter, jumping out to a lead early which the team can use to their advantage against a Bulldog unit that will give up points.
“This will be a big challenge for us. [Minnesota] Duluth has been very impressive in the last eight to ten years to say the least and not very many people have been able to go into their house and take care of business,” said head coach Todd Hoffner. “Hats off to them, but now we are going to have to go up there and be very efficient on defense and go out and score.”
The Mavericks could very well be up in the first half of this game, and the important thing to remember is that the team stays on top of the Bulldogs, keeping them from another Upper Iowa comeback.