The team stomps into Saturday with the stakes being higher than ever headed into gameday
The Minnesota State Mavericks (13-0) will be back in action this Saturday, this time with the stakes at its highest it’s been all-season long, and maybe it’s toughest opponent this season.
The Mavericks will square off against the Ferris State University Bulldogs (14-0) in the 2018 NCAA Division II National Semifinals this Saturday at home in Mankato, Minnesota. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Blakeslee Stadium on the MSU campus, and will be broadcasted live on ESPN3.
Saturday’s game will represent the first-ever series’ meeting against Ferris State.
Ferris State will be making its third-ever national semifinal appearance and its second in the past three seasons. The Bulldogs hold the nation’s best record (59-7) over the past five years in Division II football.
On the other side of the map, Minnesota State is coming off a huge win, defeating Tarleton State 13-10 at Blakeslee Stadium last Saturday. This is the fourth time in team history that MSU has won 13 or more games in a season and the third time in program history that it has advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs are currently a school all-time best and nation-leading 14-0 overall this season and claimed the GLIAC Championship with an 8-0 mark.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks have been ranked No. 1 in the country most of the year and are presently 13-0 this season. They won the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with an 11-0 record.
The four remaining teams following last week’s DII National Quarterfinals were reseeded, and FSU drew the No. 3 seed with Minnesota State at No. 2.
The other national semifinal will feature No. 4 Notre Dame (Ohio) at No. 1 Valdosta State. The two winners will meet in the DII National Championship Game Dec. 15 in McKinney, Texas. All four remaining teams are unbeaten this season
Both teams will also have a shot at doing something they’ve never done before, and that’s winning the National Championship.
The key for the Mavericks in this matchup is the same it’s been all-season long, and that’s to stop the run, get 3 & outs on offense, and take control of the time of possession clock.
This recipe worked well for the team last weekend when they played Tarleton State, holding the ball for a total of 40 minutes 19 seconds, compared to the Texans’ 19 minutes 41 second possession time, doubling their opponent’s possession time.
The Mavericks will look again to also lean on their power attack, while also attacking strategically through the air.
Junior tailback Nate Gunn is coming off a record game for the Mavericks, rushing for a school record 50 attempts, for 262 rushing yards and a touchdown on the day.
Junior wideout Shane Zylstra scored another touchdown Dec. 1 making it a total of 14 total touchdowns on the season for the talented wideout this season, who’s also now scored in all but one game this season for the Mavericks.
On the other side, the Ferris State Bulldogs possess a lot of talent on offense as well.
Dual-threat quarterback for Ferris State, Jayru Campbell, has caused problems for opponents all-season long. Campbell has accumulated a total of 44 touchdowns on the year for the Bulldogs, running for 20 of those touchdowns, while passing for 24 more. Campbell has also accumulated a total of 3,816 all-purpose yards, rushing for 1,235 of those yards, and passing for 2,581 total yards.
If the Mavericks are able to stabilize Campbell on offense, the Mavericks will have the upper hand in the game.
The Mavericks look to sneak by their last test of the season, and have a chance of playing for a championship this season. The Mavs will take it one game at a time though, as they look to prove to the nation who the best team is in DII.
Feature photo by Mansoor Ahmad | MSU Reporter.