The Bemidji State football team showed it can compete with the best teams in the country last season.
That is one reason why Brody Sheff and the Beavers are shaking off the intimidation factor for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game at top-ranked Minnesota-Duluth.
“This is a great opportunity,” Scheff said after Thursday’s practice. “BSU has never played a No. 1 team in the nation before so everyone’s going to be fired up, no one is intimidated and everyone thinks we can play with these guys so we will.”
There’s no question the Beavers are the underdog against the Bulldogs, nationally ranked No. 1 in the D2football.com poll and No. 2 in the American College Football Association poll. BSU enters the game 2-1 overall (1-1 NSIC); UMD is 3-0 overall (2-0 NSIC).
UMD, which has not lost an NSIC game since joining the league in its 2008 national championship year, is off to another strong start. Behind running back and Harlon Hill candidate Isaac Odim, the Bulldogs have outscored the competition 139-33 this season and are coming off a 42-10 win over previously ranked Wayne State.
Explosive offense and smothering defense is the formula the Bulldogs use to win games.
The only team to came close to matching that style last year during the regular season were the Beavers.
BSU trailed UMD 28-14 in the fourth quarter before rallying to tie the game behind touchdowns from Derek Edholm and Dustin Kroeplin. But UMD responded with a kick return touchdown from DJ Winfield and the Bulldogs went ahead 35-28 with 1:29 left in the game.
Edholm connected with Jody Henningson on a hail-mary touchdown pass as time expired, but the extra point that would have sent the game into overtime failed and UMD escaped with a 35-34 win.
“It was a tremendously exciting finish,” UMD head coach Bob Nielson said. “It was a wild game, and I’m sure for them, one that was really tough to lose.”
It was a dramatic scene after the game: stunned BSU fans with hands over their mouths and some BSU players with only enough energy left to take a knee. UMD’s sideline was just as drained.
“Last year we had a heartbreaker against them,” BSU offensive tackle Alonzo Melton said. “It came down to the very last play literally, so we’re going to go out there (this week) and block as hard as we can to leave with a ‘w.’”
Bemidji State head coach Jeff Tesch did not dwell on the past when asked about last year’s game. He is more concerned with building off of last week’s 30-14 road win over Southwest Minnesota State. While BSU’s defense has continued its strong play from last year, the offense has been inconsistent at times.
“I don’t know if we have to be perfect, but we’re going to have to play pretty well (against UMD),” Tesch said. “Honestly, we haven’t talked about last year’s game once that I can remember … Last year it was a deal where we were able to make big plays and we’re going to have to do some of the same things.”
Tesch hopes to establish the ground game to keep the ball out of the hands of the UMD offense. BSU rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns last week.
Because BSU was one of the few teams over the last two seasons to be effective against the Bulldogs, Kroeplin said the players know what it takes to compete against a national championship caliber team in UMD.
“It takes honestly everything you’ve got,” Kroeplin said. “It takes athleticism, teamwork, heart, pride. It’s something we have here at Bemidji State. We have a group of individuals who love the game of football … I believe when we go over there and execute like I know we can, we can come out with a ‘w.’”
My Week 5 NSIC Football Picks
My week 4 pick results- right in green, wrong in red:
MSU, Moorhead 28, Upper Iowa 24
Mankato 42, Crookston 3
Augustana 52, Mary 21
Concordia 27, Northern State 17
Duluth 42, Wayne State 10
St. Cloud State 31, Winona State 26
Bemidji State at Southwest, abstain
My week 5 picks
Moorhead at Crookston
Winona State at Upper Iowa
Southwest Minnesota at Augustana
Northern State at Wayne State
U-Mary at St. Cloud State
Concordia-St. Paul at Mankato
Bemidji State at UMD, abstain
Last week: 5-1
BSU women’s hockey wins
The Bemidji State women’s hockey team opened their season with a 4-2 exhibition win over the Toronto Jr. Aeros Friday night at City Arena.
The Beavers open their season next week on the road at Wayne State in Michigan.
BSU stays on the road the following weekend against Wisconsin before returning home for the BREC opener against Mercyhurst Oct. 15-16.
Olson reaches milestone
The Bemidji State volleyball team lost to Minnesota State University, Mankato 3-1 in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference volleyball match Friday night at BSU Gymnasium.
No. 12 ranked Mankato won the match by game scores of 25-14, 25-20, 13-25 and 25-18.
Nicole Olson led the Beavers offensively with 13 kills and was the only BSU player to reach double-digit kills.
In doing so, the senior became the eighth player in the program’s history to reach 1,000 kills.
Bethany Thompson had nine kills; Lindsey Weyer and Kimberly Hacker each had eight kills.
Jessi-Beth McCannell had 35 set assists and Brie Groskreutz had 18 digs for Bemidji State.
Minnesota State had three players in double digit kills and was led offensively by Amanda Beekman’s and Kimberly Kuhl’s 11 kills.
Mankato’s defense made it a challenging night for the BSU offense.
The Mavericks had four players with double digit digs and held BSU’s attack percentage to .164.
Mankato improved to 10-2 overall (2-2 NSIC) with the win.
The loss dropped Bemidji State to 8-5 overall and 2-3 on the NSIC season.
Bemidji State will play Southwest Minnesota State today at 4 p.m. at BSU Gymnasium.
The Mustangs are the No. 4 ranked team in Division II volleyball. The game ends a three-game stretch against nationally-ranked opponents for BSU.
Next weekend BSU?is on the road to face Augustana and No. 4-ranked Wayne State.