|Senior quarterback Jon Wolf leads #2 Minnesota State into|
into Saturday's game at #7 Minnesota Duluth
Certainly a game of this importance this early in the season is unusual on a number of levels.
Minnesota State, which has never been rated higher than third in the American Football Coaches Association poll prior to this year, carries a 13-game Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference winning streak into this weekend.
The Mavericks, who are off to a 2-0 start this year, haven't lost a regular-season game since the end of 2011 season when they dropped a 31-19 decision at, you guessed it, Minnesota Duluth. Prior to that contest, D2football.com had the Mavericks rated 24th and the Bulldogs tenth.
I've expounded on this before, but in 1993 Minnesota State was rated eighth heading into Homecoming Weekend when #1 North Dakota State visited Mankato. The underdog Mavericks, who had never beaten the Bison at Blakeslee Stadium, prevailed 28-27 in an exciting come-from-behind victory. MSU moved into a tie for third in the nation following the win, then dropped to #11 after falling at North Dakota (20-9) the next weekend.
The 1992 campaign saw MSU get off to a 4-0 start and a #7 ranking on Sept. 28 before a 7-0 loss to St. Cloud State dropped the Mavericks to #11.
In 2009 the Mavericks were rated in the top 25 for the entire season, peaking at #4 after winning its first ten games. MSU lost its 11th game of the year (26-21 at unranked St. Cloud State) before hosting a NCAA play-off game vs. Hillsdale. The final poll that season had the Mavericks ranked 14th.
Minnesota Duluth has won two national titles in the last five seasons and Minnesota State, which went 13-1 last year and played in the national semi-finals, is no longer flying under the radar.
So, yeah. This is Saturday's game is big. There have been big regular-season games before. Perhaps this one is the biggest.
It's great to be a Maverick.