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Bemidji State football team faces St. Cloud State in crucial matchup

The Bemidji State football team travels to St. Cloud State today for a 1 p.m. game with postseason implications for both teams.

The game, set for 1 p.m at Husky Stadium., has much riding on the line for both teams. For the Huskies, it is likely a chance to sew up a berth in the national playoffs. For the Beavers, it is a must win game for Mineral Water Bowl consideration.

"This game is our season right here," BSU defensive end Rob Wills said. "We're going to go down there and give 100 percent on every play because if we lose there is no postseason and if we win we have a good chance of going. Trust me - all these guys on this team plus the coaching staff want to get to the Mineral Water Bowl because that's the only chance we have left. So we're striving to make that happen and we're going to come out firing."

The Beavers (6-3 overall, 5-3 NSIC) are in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference standings after winning its third straight game last week against Northern State.

"We're peaking," BSU head coach Jeff Tesch said. "I feel good about how we're playing right now. Special teams has improved a lot from the beginning of the year and it's going to be a key battle against (St. Cloud State) ... but we've got a lot of confidence and we're playing about as good as we can right now."

St. Cloud State (7-2 overall, 7-1 NSIC) is alone in third place behind undefeated Augustana and Minnesota-Duluth, which are tied for first with 8-0 NSIC records.

Those three teams are currently ranked in the top six of NCAA Super Region 3. The top six teams in the four super regions participate in the NCAA Tournament.

That's why the game is so important for SCSU: win and take a front seat in the chase for a national playoff berth.

It's equally as important for the Beavers. With lowly Minnesota-Crookston on the schedule for the regular season finale, BSU has a chance to be in the conversation for the Mineral Water Bowl with Concordia-St. Paul and Winona State.

The Mineral Water Bowl pits the top teams from the NSIC and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association not to make the playoffs in a postseason game at Excelsior Springs, Missouri.

The Beavers will look to keep the running game going strong against the Huskies. In the last three games, BSU has rushed for 589 yards with 350 coming in last weekend's 41-13 rout over Northern State at Chet Anderson Stadium.

BSU's Dustin Kroeplin ranks fourth in NSIC rushing with an 83.4 rushing yards per game average and his nine touchdowns is tied with Winona's Rayon Simmons for the league lead.

BSU's defense this week will be challenged by SCSU quarterback Phillip Klaphake and wide receiver Fred Williams.

Klaphake, a freshman, ranks second in NSIC total offense this season with 1,682 passing yards and 561 rushing yards.

Williams has been the top wide receiver in the NSIC this season. He averages a league-high 96 yards per game and has 11 touchdowns on the year.

In SCSU's 38-27 win over the Beavers last year at Chet Anderson Stadium, Williams had 86 yards and two touchdowns.

"They've got a good receiver in Williams and we've got to do a good job on him and not let him make his big plays," Tesch said. "It's just going to be one of those fun, hard -fought battles."

All-Academic honor

Junior safety Brody Scheff and sophomore tight end Brian Leonhardt were named to the ESPN the Magazine / College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) College Division Academic All-District Second Team members this week.

The academic all-district teams are nominated and selected by College Sports Information Directors of America members. To be nominated, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) at his/her current institution. Nominated athletes must have participated in at least 50 percent of the team's games.

Scheff and Leonhardt are the first BSU players to make the team since 2007.