No. 9/7 Beavers set to host No. 4/5 Minnesota State in Top 10 Meeting for Homecoming
Set to be first top 10 meeting between teams in Bemidji since AFCA Poll was established
With both teams off to 4-0 starts overall and in conference play, this Saturday’s matchup will feature a top 10 meeting between the No. 9/7 Bemidji State University Football team and the No. 4/5 Minnesota State University Mavericks with kickoff set for 2 p.m. at Chet Anderson Stadium. Since the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Poll started for NCAA Division II in 2000, this will be the first top 10 meeting in Bemidji.
This won’t be the first time Minnesota State has been in Bemidji nationally ranked. During the 2018 season, the Mavericks were the top team in the nation entering that game in Bemidji. During the 2016 season, Bemidji State traveled to Minnesota State when the Mavericks were ranked sixth nationally and claimed the 45-17 win. That stands as the last win in the series for BSU, with Minnesota State winning the last three games in the series. MSU has won the last four meetings in Bemidji, with the last win for the Beavers happening in 2005 (28-23). Last year’s game went right down to the wire after BSU surged back with 21 unanswered to take the lead at 34-30. A touchdown with 1:38 left pushed Minnesota State to the 37-34 victory in the season opener for both teams.
Both teams have similar numbers across the board. The offensive lines have protected the quarterbacks with MSU leading the nation in sacks allowed (0.25), while BSU is 23rd nationally (1.00). BSU leads the nation in team sacks per game (5.0), while MSU ranks 24th nationally (3.0). MSU’s rushing attack averages 283 yards per game to rank third nationally. BSU’s defense allows just 69.8 rushing yards per game, good for 13th nationally. BSU’s passing attack averages 261.8 yards per game to rank 30th nationally, while MSU’s defense allows just 135.5 passing yards per game to rank 11th nationally. Turnover margin has been a big factor with MSU at +1.75 to rank ninth nationally and BSU at +1.25 to rank 21st nationally. Both offenses have put the points up with MSU ranking 10th nationally averaging 44.8 points per game and BSU ranks 18th nationally averaging 40 points per game. BSU’s defense ranks third nationally in points allowed per game (11.8), while MSU’s defense ranks 44th nationally in points allowed per game (18.8).
Holding the 20-10 halftime lead at UMary last week, the Beavers scored the only 21 points in the second half to take the 41-10 victory. The defense limited the Marauders to just four net rushing yards and 187 total yards. The offense posted 400 yards, passing for 255 with Brandon Alt throwing for four touchdowns for the second straight week. Alt has now thrown 96 touchdowns passes in his last 30 games alone. He enters this week with 9,604 career passing yards.
Dhel Duncan-Busby brought in a pair of receiving touchdowns against UMary for the second straight game and third time this season. Duncan-Busby is third nationally and leads the NSIC in receiving touchdowns with six.
Defensively, it was another six-sack game for the Beavers, having posted at least four sacks in all four games. BSU now leads all of NCAA Division II in team sacks per game at 5.0. Marcus Hansen leads BSU with 5.5 sacks, while Max Buduris and Stephen Hoffman add 2.5 apiece. Hansen is fifth nationally in sacks and ranks fourth nationally in tackles for loss with 10.5. Buduris was named NSIC Defensive Player of the Week after coming away with 11 tackles, 10 solo, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack in the win at UMary. Princeten Harris has four passes defended this season to rank first in the NSIC and 17th nationally.
Special teams are led by Marko Jovisic making five field goals and 15 extra points. Elliott Lowny is averaging 35.53 on 15 punts, but had a career long of 66 last week against UMary and averaged 50.67 yards. In the return game, De’vonta’ Roberts has six kickoff returns for 161 yards, with a long of 53. Jake Hill has five punt returns for 37 yards.
Bemidji State held steady at No. 9 in the AFCA Poll and No. 7 in the D2Football.com Poll.
Minnesota State holds a 33-15-2 overall series record and have won the last three meetings. Minnesota State is 16-9 against the Beavers in Bemidji. Last year’s matchup saw the Mavericks jump in front 30-13 before the Beavers surged back with 21 unanswered to take the 34-30 lead in the fourth quarter. Minnesota State tallied a touchdown with 1:38 left to claim the 37-34 victory. It was the season opener for both teams last season.