Football looking for success against Mustangs

With a loss this past weekend against Sioux Falls, the Minnesota State football team now finds themselves out of playoff contention for the first time since 2016. It was a good three season streak for the Mavericks who found themselves with one loss in every one of those seasons.

This season has been quite the disappointment, not only for the fans but also for the players and coaching staff. The Mavs are now in unfamiliar territory as they head to Marshall, Minn. to face the Southwest Minnesota State Mustangs this Saturday, with a 5-4 overall record.

MSU will head west in the hopes of maintaining their pride against a struggling Mustang team, who has not won a game since Oct. 2 when they defeated Upper Iowa 20-14. The Mustangs have lost four straight games and currently enter the game with a 2-7 overall record.

Minnesota State has done particularly well against teams who have been struggling this season, previously defeating bottom half conference opponents handedly earlier in the season. The Mavericks have outscored bottom half NSIC opponents 184-20, a list that includes Concordia-St.Paul, Upper Iowa, and Minot State.

The Mustangs find themselves in the bottom half as well, currently sitting at No. 11 in the NSIC, while the Mavs are No. 8.

It has been an interesting season to say the least for MSU, which has seen the team come close in nearly every game unless the opponent is particularly struggling to play good football. The question must arise if there is internal distress within the locker room that causes the team to always lose closer games to top half opponents but win convincingly against bottom half.

Despite difficulties, the Mavericks will surely be ready for their first of two last road games of the season. 

The Mustangs are no stranger to the Mavericks, and have been a very nice addition to the schedule every year the teams have played each other since 1971. The Mavs have not lost to Southwest Minnesota State since 1971, which grants them an 18 game win streak against them. 

The contests have not been particularly close over the history between the two teams, with the Mavericks holding a significant edge. MSU averages nearly 40 points per game against the Mustangs, while SMSU only averages 15. 

The Mustangs come into the weekend with one of the better running backs in the NSIC in junior Jesse Sherwood, but struggle to have any amount of decent quarterback play. Sherwood has been outstanding for SMSU, averaging nearly 90 rushing yards per game and has six touchdowns on the season. 

On defense the Mustangs take pride in their junior linebacker Onte Burns, who leads the team in tackles by a landslide with 86 total. The next closest player is senior Gage Roberson with 67. 

SMSU should be a great test for the struggling Mavs, as Minnesota State will use this game as a test to their commitment to finishing out the season strong despite missing the playoffs. If the Mavericks can get the job done in Marshall, they will look to end the season with a win against Winona State on away turf. 

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