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Bemidji State football home opener against Augustana brings proving matchup

Bemidji State and Augustana are two football teams entering the second game of the season with so much in common, it's hard to find a major difference between them.

Whatever differences exist will show in Saturday's home opener and Shrine Game at Chet Anderson Stadium at 1 p.m.

Both teams are coming off superb 2009 seasons and are looking to become a top-tier NSIC team this season.

"We finished up there the last few years and we've been towards the top," Bemidji State quarterback Derek Edholm said. "It's one of those things where we're kind of like them; we're a couple points away from taking that next step and becoming runner-up or division champs. So, yeah, this is obviously a big game and a way to measure how the rest of the year is going to go."

BSU and Augustana enter the game with 1-0 records. The Beavers defeated Minot State 24-7 on the road nearly two weeks ago. The Vikings took advantage of St. Cloud State turnovers late in the fourth quarter last week for a 32-23 win at home.

Bemidji State left the Minot State game with a mixed bag of positive results and some areas to work on.

The BSU offense was able to move the ball efficiently and control the clock, but a sore spot was the red zone conversion rate. BSU was 2-for-5 inside the 20-yard line in a forgettable performance in that area.

Special teams also showed some weak spots and allowed an average of 40 yards per kick return and a return touchdown for MSU's only score.

The real bright spot was the BSU defense, which allowed 86 total yards to set a new school record, held MSU to negative 10 rushing yards and surrendered a mere four first downs.

"It's a really good start but Minot - they're a decent team, but they are no Augustana," linebacker Andrew Eagan said. "The bye week has given us some time to prepare for Augustana. We've got a good scheme against them so we're just training hard and going to get after them this week. ..We've got to prove ourselves this game ... Augie's a way better test of who we are and what we're going to do this year. We need to treat it like a big game."

The Beavers defense will look to keep Augie quarterback Tyler Schulte and speedy running back Joe Clark in check.

Schulte passed for two touchdowns and Clark ran for two touchdowns in last week's win over the Huskies.

Bemidji State's offense, decimated by injuries last season, is trying to gell with some players in new positions.

North Dakota transfer Steven Battle had the majority of carries in the win over Minot State, but he is expected to share more carries with Dustin Kroeplin and Brandon Miles this week.

Backup quarterback Lance Rongstad, who formed a unique dual-quarterback attack with Edholm last season, is being utilized as threat all over the field.

While he will likely take a few snaps behind center, he has been lined up at the wide receiver position, in the back field and may even take some punt/kickoff returns against Augustana.

In a game between two similar teams, Bemidji State head coach Jeff Tesch believes the game will be won at the line of scrimmage.

"It will start in the trenches, they will have legitimate postseason play type of linemen and d-linemen," Tesch said. "They've been in the Mineral Water Bowl two years in a row. They have as many experienced guys as we do ... It's just going to be a postseason-experienced, playoff-type team we're going to see."