After just slipping by with an overtime win this past week against Northern State, the Minnesota State football team is headed to Duluth, Minn. to take on the Bulldogs in their second game of the season.
The Mavericks and the Bulldogs are both ranked in the AFCA top 25 Poll, where the Mavs hold the No. 3 spot and the Bulldogs, No. 20.
This is the Mavs first top 25 matchup of the season and will be a great test to prove they are worthy of their top three spot in the rankings. With a loss, the Mavericks are undoubtedly going to drop several spots in the rankings, but with a win, Minnesota State could reclaim their No. 2 spot from the preseason rankings.
Going into only the second game of the season, there is not much we know about this Mavs team, but there is a lot of promise just based on the one game we have seen. Coming into the season the Mavs had positions to fill at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver.
It seems Minnesota State has found their answers at running back and wide receiver, where sophomore Kaleb Sleezer was the most dominant back for the Mavs, rushing for 148 yards and one touchdown against Northern State.
Jalen Sample, who led the team in targets, yards, and touchdowns at wide receiver, seems to have taken control of the number one wideout spot going into game two.
The quarterback position still has not been quite answered yet. JD Ekowa entered the game as the QB1 for the Mavs, but did not necessarily have the better performance.
Hayden Ekern came into the game several times as the backup to Ekowa, going 8-11 on passing attempts including a 71 yard touchdown pass to Jalen Sample on the second play of his first drive. It will be interesting to see if the Mavs use situational quarterback play this season or if they stick to one over the other.
We do not know much about this No. 20 Duluth team either. The Bulldogs won their first game of the season handily, defeating Upper Iowa 41-14.
Minnesota-Duluth put together a monster second quarter in their first game, putting up 27 points in their rout to a win against the Peacocks.
Quarterback John Larson was the undoubted MVP for the Bulldogs in their first game, throwing for 447 yards and six touchdowns.
Wideout Armani Carmickle was on the receiving end of the bulk of Larson’s big game, hauling in five catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns.
The Mavericks secondary is going to have a lot on their plate this weekend if the Bulldogs keep it up.
Duluth’s defense also played very well in their first game of the season, totalling six sacks and two interceptions. After many question marks have come up for the Mavericks at the quarterback position in the first game, this Bulldog defense might cause some issues for the Mavs.
Minnesota-Duluth did however, give up 134 rushing yards in their game against the Peacocks.
Kaleb Sleezer was a monster in the running game for the Mavs in game one, so he should look to pick apart the Bulldog defensive unit to start the game.
The game this Saturday should be an exciting one to watch, as it is going to be televised locally on KEYC.
Coming into this game, Duluth leads the overall win loss category over Minnesota State with a 20-18-1 record.
Although the Bulldogs have the edge in the all-time record, the Mavs have dominated the Bulldogs in recent history. The Mavericks have won the last five contests between the two teams, including a 52-7 victory in the 2019 season.
Minnesota State looks to come one game closer to evening out their historical record against Minnesota Duluth, as well as regaining their No. 2 spot in the AFCA Poll this Saturday.