No. 4 Minnesota State faces Upper Iowa on road

The Maverick football team has been coasting so far, with another tough matchup ahead

No. 4 Minnesota State University Mavericks take their talents to Fayette, Iowa on Saturday to take on the Upper Iowa Peacocks. Upper Iowa comes into the contest boasting a 4-2 record while the Mavericks come into the game undefeated and would like to boost their playoff resume’ with a road win against a good opponent.

Upper Iowa comes into the game playing their best football in years. This team has not always been the most competitive in the NSIC, but this year they are playing every team tough and even blowing some teams out. The Mavericks cannot afford to overlook them and head football coach Todd Hoffner had a lot of praise for the Peacocks coming into the game.

“I think Upper Iowa is a very talented team at 4-2. They are playing very good football and are very well-rounded team compared to years past,” Hoffner said.
For the Mavs this season, two offensive players have been filling up the stat sheet. Sophomore running back Nate Gunn has been everything MNSU has hoped for this season, plus more. The 6’2”, 215-pound back from Minooka, Illinois has averaged 157 yards/game while finding the end zone ten times. He tends to play at a high level against good teams as he ran for 229 yards on the road against Minnesota Duluth. If he continues his current hot streak, Gunn will surpass the 1,000 yard mark this weekend. Coach Hoffner had some nice things to say about Gunn this week heading into this weekend’s matchup.

“Nate has played aspiring football through six games,” Hoffner said. “Our offensive staff puts him in spots to succeed. He is very talented and he has a very good supporting cast around him.”

Wide Receiver Shane Zylstra is coming off a week in which he was named the NSIC Offensive Player of the Week. He hauled in ten receptions for 147 yards and tied a career-high with three touchdowns. Zylstra, much like Nate Gunn, comes up huge when the most is asked out of him. Earlier this year against Minnesota Duluth, Zylstra racked up eight receptions for 204 yards and three touchdowns, which at the time set his career high in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Coach Hoffner mentioned him as well this week.

“Although a lot of the passing game is determined by how the game goes, Shane has been having a good year for us. He has been finding voids in the coverages and has been running great routes,” Hoffner said.

This has become an unexpected key game on the Mavericks’ schedule for the season, as the Peacocks are surpassing preseason expectations. But there should not be a scenario in which the Mavericks lose. Prediction: The Mavericks take the victory back to Mankato with them, 34-17.

Minnesota State’s final four games are tough as two top-25 teams lurk around the corner. On Oct. 28, the No. 13 Winona State Warriors come to Mankato and in the last game of the season, MNSU travels to Sioux Falls to take on the No. 18 Cougars. It should be an exciting finish to the season.

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