No. 3 Minnesota State and No. 17 Augustana are both currently 7-0 and sit atop the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tied for first. Saturday’s game at Kirkeby-Over Stadium could be the toughest matchup both teams have faced this year as it will decide the outcome of who reigns over the NSIC in first place.
“They have a great team,” MSU head coach Todd Hoffner said. “It is one of, if not the, best I’ve seen out of Augustana since I’ve been here.”
On offense, the Auggies tally 36 points and 416 yards per game. Their game is exploiting defenses through the air as they average 262 passing yards per game. Quarterback Casey Bauman has thrown for 1,819 yards with 18 touchdowns so far.
Defensive back Khai West says it’s all about communication and focusing on themselves, not the opponent.
“Communication is one big thing we are focusing on this week,” West said. “We need to communicate more than we already do and then let everyone fly around and be relentless about it.”
“When you get to worrying about other things, things you can’t control is when you lose sight of the things you can do. As long as we focus on ourselves and everybody does their job we should be successful.”
On defense, the Vikings are a force all around. Peyton Buckley has 46 tackles, five of which were for a loss. Haden Wallace also has 36 tackles, 3.5 for a loss. Their defense only lets up 16 points and less than 100 yards rushing a game.
Both teams will be tested heavily as Augustana lets up very little rushing yards while the Mavericks main offensive attack is the rush with Shen Butler-Lawson who currently leads division II football in rushing yards. He also has 12 touchdowns on the ground.
“We need to put people in position to make plays, that’s our job as coaches,” Hoffner said. “Motivation comes from within. We need to put them in position and it’s the players job to want it more than the opponent.”
The Maverick defense is very similar to Augustana’s. MSU lets up 19 points per game and allows for 316 yards per game —13 more than the Vikings. The Mavs also have 19 sacks on the season and allow third down conversions only 32% of the time.
The defense is led by West who has three interceptions and Jacob Daulton who has 30 tackles.
This decision game could be a shootout or a defensive battle, the ending will determine who is on top.
“We’ve both had plus’s, we’ve had minus’s, we’ve had good halves, we’ve had bad halves. Playing a good 60 minutes is always the goal and playing it with energy, enthusiasm and excitement is always really important,” Hoffner said.
Header Photo: Every week, the Minnesota State football team seems to get better. Moving now up to no. 3 in Division II, what is the ceiling for the Mavs? (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
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