The Bemidji State football team will go up against a nationally ranked team for the second straight week when the Beavers host No. 20 Winona State today at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Kickoff for the 13th annual Shrine Game is set for 1 p.m.
Bemidji State returns home after a draining 37-34 overtime loss on the road to then No. 10 ranked Minnesota State University, Mankato in last week's NSIC opener.
"We've just got to put it in the past. It was a big game but we can't dwell on it," Bemidji State linebacker Andrew Eagan said. "It's just like every play - if you go out there and make a bad play you just have to suck it up and go back out there and play."
With Winona (2-0, 1-0 NSIC) coming to town, there's no question the Beavers (1-1, 0-1 NSIC) are motivated.
"The guys are disappointed they didn't win the game, they know what it takes to play against a good team now and with Winona there's really not an issue to get excited and ready to go," Bemidji State head coach Jeff Tesch said.
Bemidji State has already shown signs of being an improved team through the first few weeks.
Blowing out Minot State in the opener and challenging Mankato last week are two big signs of progress.
Inside the numbers, the BSU offense has established a running game and that has proved to be tough to defend against.
Bemidji State has rushed for 572 yards through two games - an average of 260 yards per game. That success can be attributed to the improvement and growth of a young defensive line.
"We're doing well actually," Bemidji State tackle Alonzo Melton said of the offensive line. "We're a real young group, I don't even think we have anyone that's older than a sophomore so we are just taking it game by game and getting better."
The potent rushing attack has been spearheaded by junior quarterback Derek Edholm and freshman running back Dustin Kroeplin.
Kroeplin ranks second in team rushing with 175 yards and two touchdowns.
Edholm is BSU's leading rusher and rushed for more yards than he has passed through two games. He has rushed for 190 yards and five touchdowns. Through the air, Edholm has passed for 157 yards and one touchdown.
Edholm provided most of the offense in Bemidji State's loss to Mankato. He had 116 yards and three touchdowns rushing as most of the offense went through his hands on bootleg plays, screen passes and options.
Edholm's status is in doubt this week. He suffered a concussion in the second half against Mankato and did not play in the fourth quarter. He practiced in full gear with the team on Thursday, but is a game-time decision against Winona.
Edholm was not the only player to get banged up in last week's physical contest with the Mavericks.
The Beavers lost starting cornerbacks Tiger Ellison and Sid Johnson to injuries in first half and neither will be available this week. Ellison is out with a broken arm and Johnson is out with an ankle injury.
That bumps up junior transfer Anthony Ragsdale and freshman Charlie Hrdlicka to the starting cornerbacks. Both played the entire second half against Mankato.
Despite the injuries, Bemidji State expects to be competitive against Winona and through the rest of the season.
"We were a play away from winning on the road and that's the positive," Tesch said. "We should be able to do the same the rest of the year -- if we don't compete with that desire and effort, then we're not playing hard."
Bemidji State will be looking to put together better game than last year's 31-7 loss to the Warriors in Winona.
The Warriors will be a tough team as shown by their first two wins of the season. Winona beat then ranked Carson-Newman 17-12 in the season opener and throttled Northern State 52-17 last week on the road.
The offense is led by quarterback Greg Preston and running back Rayon Simmons.
Simmons has rushed for 291 yards and four touchdowns.
The Beavers defense, despite some hiccups last week, feel prepared for the Winona offense.
"We've schemed up pretty good this week," Eagan said. "We like where we are at, but we just need to eliminate the mental errors."
E Bemidji State has won eight of the last 12 Shrine Games.
- This week's game marks the first time in school history that the Beavers have played nationally ranked opponents in consecutive weeks.
- BSU is 1-6 all time against nationally ranked teams. The lone win came in BSU's 2006 NSIC championship season when the Beavers defeated then No. 18 Winona 28-7.