Mavericks face Augustana on homecoming weekend

No. 5 Minnesota State puts a 5-0 record on the line this Saturday at Blakeslee Stadium

The Minnesota State Mavericks have reached a ranking of No. 5 and now have the chance to go 6-0 this weekend against the Augustana Vikings over homecoming weekend.

The team is remarkably good on a weekend that holds numerous festivities and has so many distractions for the team. They hold a 49-33-2 all-time record on homecoming, along with a 5-0 record against the Vikings on the day. However, the Vikings have a 24-23 record against the Mavs, which makes this the biggest test of the Mavericks’ season. The Vikings are out, not only to ruin the five-game streak that the Mavs are on, but also wreck the six-game winning streak that the Mavericks have on homecoming that dates back to 2011.

The Vikings roll in with a 2-3 record, looking to rebound from last weekend’s loss to Wayne State 16-13. The Vikings have averaged 351.8 yards per game on offense and have a solid duo in the backfield. Running backs Ryan Bradberry and Rudolh Sinflorant have a combined 520 yards along with three rushing touchdowns on the season.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings have looked solid as well, only allowing 299.4 yards per game. The problem is that the offense has not scored nearly enough touchdowns, and have been forced to settle for field goals as opposed to touchdowns, only averaging 18.4 points per game.

“We started out last weekend with two three-and-outs which was crucial to starting out for our defense,” said Mavs head coach Todd Hoffner of the defense. “But every team is different and Augustana could pose some problems with that big offensive line.”

While the line may cause some problems, the Mavericks front seven has spent the majority of their time in the opponent’s backfield and should be able to throw a wrench in the offense of the Vikings, which already has problems finishing drives. The strategy of the Mavericks’ “bend but don’t break defense”, as coach Hoffner calls it, is what will make this team tough for the Vikings to beat out.

“Ryan is doing the things we ask him to do, I think J.D is doing the same,” said coach Hoffner on the offensive balance. “The quarterbacks are working through the system and just doing the things they need to for us to move the football and score touchdowns.”

While the offense was definitely one-sided last weekend, as the Mavs ran for 482 yards to 99 passing yards. The ground game that is led by Nate Gunn and an impressive line looks to be enough to roll over the competition with ease.

“We’ll do what the defense gives us, if they give us one-on-one matchups on the perimeter, we have to take advantage of that,” said Hoffner. “But if someone is going to sell out on stopping the pass then we’ll run, but I think a balanced attack is important moving forward.”

Prediction: The Mavericks win 45-20 on homecoming and Nate Gunn rushes for 105 yards and two scores.

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