Fall is here: Hockey rankings, Otto in Owatonna and look ahead to big BSU-Augustana football matchup

Back in the office after Labor Day. Here’s some items I’m catching up on.

The College Hockey News has released their preseason top 10 list with a few added teams to watch. There are three WCHA Teams in the top 10: North Dakota at No. 2, St. Cloud State at No. 6 and Minnesota-Duluth at No. 9. Those also happen to be the three teams Bemidji State opens the 2010-11 season with next month.

Another hockey item to note: Ben Otto is playing for the Owatonna (Minn.) Express in the North American Hockey League.  Ben is the son of Joel Otto, the BSU standout who won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames. In another BSU-Owatonna news item, alum Pat Cullen has left his head coaching position with the Express to be an assistant coach at St. Olaf College this season in Northfield.

The BSU soccer team started the season 2-0 last weekend with wins over North Dakota on the road and Viterbo University at home. Senior Ashlee Ellefsen scored two goals in the wins and was named the NSIC Offensive Player of the Week.

NSIC Football Picks: Week 2
After a rough first week in picking, I nearly had a perfect run in week two and picked five of the six games correct.

My picks right in green, wrong in red
Sept. 2
Northern Michigan 6, at MSU, Mankato 7
Mayville State 6 at UM-Crookston 37
Northern State 24 at Southwest Minn. St. 28
Sept. 4
St. Cloud State 23 at Augustana 32
Minot State 17 at Concordia-St. Paul 38
Upper Iowa 10 at Texas A&M Commerce 33

Last week:5-1
Season: 8-3

The one game I picked wrong was Augustana-St. Cloud State. I knew it would be a close one and it was. SCSU had a 23-14 lead with over nine minutes remaining, but a botched punt allowed Augie to get back into the game and the Vikings went on to win.

SCSU receiver Fred Williams had an eye-popping 236 yards receiving in the loss. He’s one of the best route runners and possession receivers I saw in the NSIC last season and he’s off to a solid start.

As for Augie, one player I took notice of was Joe Clark. He ran for 85 yards and a pair of touchdowns. For me, Clark is a familiar name. I remember watching him run over Owatonna when I covered high school football in southern Minnesota. Clark, who played at Rochester Century, was one of the best running backs I’ve watched play high school ball in Minnesota.  He was a back of the fast and elusive kind.

I’m looking forward to watching him match up against Bemidji State’s defense in this week’s home opener at Chet Anderson Stadium. BSU was off last week following a 24-7 season-opening win over Minot State. In that game, BSU set school records for first downs allowed (3) and total yards allowed (80)

This is a big game for both teams. BSU and Augie both finished with identical 7-3 NSIC records in 2009 and were fringe national playoff teams. As far as early season matchups go, this one is big and could have national playoff implications when selection time comes at the end of the season if both are contending.

The BSU-Augie game is also this year’s Shrine Game, something I know the BSU football program takes a lot of pride in.  Here’s a Shriner story from the Pioneer about Logan Hemp and his family, who will be cheering on the Beavers Saturday afternoon.

That’s all for today. I’ll post my week 3 picks later this week.