NO. 9 BULLDOGS BACK HOME SATURDAY FOR NSIC NORTH DIVISION COLLISION WITH MARY
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
The University of Minnesota Duluth will put its 38-game Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference winning streak to the test this Saturday (Nov. 3) when the ninth-ranked Bulldogs play host to the University of Mary. Opening kickoff for the North Division clash is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. at James S. Malosky Stadium (4,500/artificial turf) on the UMD campus.
THE RECORDS: UMD, the four-time reigning NSIC champion, is 8-1 both overall and in league play this fall while Mary, which has dropped four of its last five games, sports a 4-5 record.
HOW THEY RANK: Here is how UMD and Mary stacked up in this week's American Football Coaches Association Division II and the D2Football.com polls as well as the latest NCAA II Super Region 3 Rankings.
AFCA D2Football Region 3
UMD No. 9 No. 9 No. 7
Mary NR NR NR
THE BROADCAST: The Bulldog-Maruader matchup will be carried on 1490 The Fan (KQDS-AM) with Jeff Papas handling the play-by-play responsibilities and former University of North Dakota offensive lineman and Superior Stampede assistant coach Gregg Swartwoudt providing color. The broadcast can also be heard on KQ 105.5 FM in Grand Rapids/Hibbing , KQ 106.7 FM in Ely/Virginia and at: www.fan1490.com.
In addition, My9 (KBJR DT 6.2/KRII DT 11.9) is televising all UMD home games during the 2012 season, including the one this Saturday afternoon against Mary. Veteran sportscaster Tom Hansen former long-time Bulldog defensive coordinator Vince Repesh are scheduled to serve as the on-air talent. The telecast, which is also available locally on Charter and Mediacom cable, will be videostreammed as well and can be accessed for free at: nsic.nmtvsports.com.
THE COACH: The numbers certainly speak for themselves. Two NCAA II national championships, five NSIC titles (including the last four in a row), three perfect 11-0 regular seasons, five NCAA II playoff appearances, 98 victories and a .797 overall winning percentage. Bob Nielson has accomplished all this -- and much more -- in his 10 seasons of head coaching activity at UMD.
Last fall, Nielson directed his charges, which included 15 All-NSIC picks and a quartet of All-Americans, to an 11-3 overall record and a quarterfinal round berth (their fourth in as many years) in the NCAA II playoffs before bowing out to eventual national runnerup Wayne State University. In 2010, the Bulldogs did something no other NCAA II club had ever been able to do – finish 15-0 for a second time. Along the way, UMD brought home the school’s second NCAA II title and third consecutive NSIC crown (a program first), amassing a 10-0 league mark for the third time in as many years. For his efforts, Nielson was bestowed with two of the most prestigious national coaching honors in Division II football – the American Football Coaches Association DII Coach of the Year and the Liberty Mutual DII Coach of the Year awards – in addition to being selected for that same honor by Don Hansen’s Football Gazette and the NSIC.
Nielson returned to the UMD sidelines in 2008 following a four-season hiatus and proceeded to oversee one of the most impressive one-year turnarounds in NCAA Division II history, taking a club which had gone 4-6 in 2007 and molding it into a national champion. Along the way, his Bulldogs rolled up a 15-0 overall mark (only the third NCAA II team to ever accomplish that feat), set or equaled 50 team and individual records, captured the NSIC title and turned out a whopping nine All-Americans. He followed that up two years ago by going 11-2 in all games and advancing to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA II playoffs.
Named the 2008 NCAA II Coach of the Year by American Football Monthly magazine, D2Football.com, and the Football Gazette, Nielson now owns a dazzling 98-25 overall record at UMD (that .797 winning percentage is far and away the best mark in the program’s storied 80-year existence) and is 168-58-1 (.742) in his 20 seasons of coaching at the collegiate level.
Nielson, a three-time NSIC Coach of the Year honoree (2010, 2008 and 2002) whose first tour of duty with the Bulldogs ran from 1999-2003, was officially appointed to his old post on Jan. 3, 2008. (He continues to also serve as UMD’s athletic director, a position he’s held since 2003-04). During his five previous years with the Bulldogs, Nielson helped marshal the UMD program to new heights. In 2002, for example, his Bulldogs posted their second unbeaten, untied regular season record at that time (11-0), advanced to the NCAA II playoffs for the first time ever and captured the NSIC championship. Nielson's resume also includes directing UMD to its inaugural post-season appearance (the 2001 Mineral Water Bowl in Excelsior Springs, Mo.) and the school's second greatest one-year turnaround to date (the Bulldogs went 7-4 in 2000 after managing a 3-8 mark the previous fall).
The runnerup for the 2002 American Football Monthly magazine NCAA II Coach of the Year award, Nielson, 53, joined the UMD staff in the spring of 1999 after he had guided the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to a share of the 1998 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title (its first since 1983) and an initial berth in the NCAA III playoffs. He amassed a record of 22-11 in three years with the Blugolds, including a 10-3 mark in his farewell season when Wisconsin-Eau Claire notched a team standard for victories. Nielson, the Football Gazette’s 1998 Division III Coach of the Year, also was employed for five years as the head football coach at his alma mater, Wartburg College, where he strung together five successive non-losing seasons and attained a pair of back-to-back NCAA III playoff berths (1993 and 1994), and for two years at Ripon College (1989-90).
NIELSON BY THE NUMBERS
Record at UMD (Year) 98-25 (10th)
Overall Coaching Record (Year) 168-58-1 (20th)
Career NSIC Record 76-15
Career NCAA II Playoff Record 11-3
Career Home Record (at UMD) 51-8
Career Away Record (at UMD) 47-17
vs. Mary (Overall) 4-0
vs. Mary (at UMD) 4-0
THE SERIES: Saturday afternoon's game will mark only the sixth meeting ever between UMD and Mary. The Bulldogs have won all five of the previous confrontations, outscoring the Maruaders 211-56 in the process:
Date Score Location
10/15/11 UMD 41, Mary 28 Bismarck, N.D.
10/16/10 UMD 49, Mary 0 Duluth, Minn.
9/26/09 UMD 35, Mary 7 Bismarck, N.D.
9/27/08 UMD 44, Mary 7 Duluth, Minn.
9/9/06 UMD 42, Mary 14 Duluth, Minn.
LAST WEEK: UMD raced out to a 31-0 halftime lead and went on to trample the University of Minnesota-Crookston 38-14 Saturday afternoon in the Bulldogs' final road assignment of the 2012 regular season. Senior quarterback Chase Vogler rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another score while junior running back Jeron Johnson came off the bench to run 11 times for a team-leading 95 yards. Both teams had issues with ball control, in part because of the soggy conditions at Ed Widseth Field on the Minnesota Crookston campus. UMD fumbled five times (losing two of those) and the Golden Eagles four times -- one of which was recovered by sophomore inside linebacker Gavin Grady in the Minnesota Crookston end zone for a first-quarter touchdown.
Mary gave up 635 yards of total offense and was outscored 55-3 in the final three quarters while falling 65-17 to Northern State University Saturday in Bismarck. The Maruaders, who were up 14-10 after the opening 15 minutes of play, got a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Craig Barnell and 109 pass reception yards and one touchdown (on seven catches) from Elby Pope in the setback. The 65 points Northern State amassed at the Maruaders' expense were a school record.
THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING: The Bulldogs' team captaincy responsibilities this fall are being shared by a quintet of seniors -- injured defensive end Joe Akey, free safety Cameron Harper, offensive guard Garth Heikkinen, tight end Ben Helmer and quarterback Chase Vogler.
ANOTHER FAVORABLE NSIC FORECAST: In their annual preseason poll, the NSIC coaches again picked the four-time defending league champion Bulldogs to top the 2012 standings. This is nothing new for UMD, which has been tabbed the NSIC preseason favorite in each of its last six years of league membership (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2003). St. Cloud State University was targeted for a runnerup finish behind the Bulldogs while reigning South Division kingpin Minnesota State University-Mankato was slotted third in the expanded 16-team NSIC.
NOT IN OUR HOUSE: The Bulldogs have reeled off 37 consecutive NSIC home victories since succumbing 37-27 to Concordia University-St. Paul on Oct. 7, 2000. Throw in NCAA II playoff and non-conference games and UMD is an even more impressive 43-0 overall against NSIC schools at Malosky Stadium during that stretch.
CUTTING TO THE CHASE: Senior Chase Vogler, who matched a career high with his three rushing touchdowns in last Saturday's 38-14 triumph at Minnesota Crookston, currently ranks 18th in the country -- and second in the NSIC -- in passing efficiency (154.34). The Inver Grove Heights, Minn., native will head into Crookston still holding down the No. 3 spot on UMD's all-time charts for both passing yardage (7,059) and total offense (9,509 yards). In 51 career appearances with the Bulldogs, Vogler has completed 63.0 percent of his throws and has also run for more yards (2,450 for a 5.3 yards per carry average) than any UMD field general. He's also a remarkable 44-5 as a starter since assuming that role three years back as a first-year freshman. Those 44 victories are not only a UMD record, but they are the tops among all current NCAA II quarterbacks.
JUST WIN, BABY: Since the start of the 2008 season, no NCAA II program in the country has rolled victories (60) or a better winning percentage (.909 off a 60-6 record) than UMD. Northwest Missouri State University is next in each of those two categories (58-9, .866).
THERE'S NOTHING HE CAN'T TACKLE: Third-year starting free safety Cameron Harper, who is one of three Bulldogs to take part in all 51 games over the past three-plus seasons (quarterback Chase Vogler and offensive guard Garth Heikkinen are the two others), is now tied for fifth (with middle linebacker Marc Achterkirch, 1991-94) on UMD's all-time tackles list with 261 stops. Strong safety Jim Johnson (276 tackles between 2005-08) occupies the No. 4 spot while strong safety Kevin Westbrock (277, 1998-2001) is third.
NATIONALLY SPEAKING: Here is how UMD ranks among NCAA II schools in a variety of statistical categories at the moment:
Kickoff Returns 1st 28.32 ypr
Scoring Offense 5th 45.56 ppg
Sacks Allowed 6th 0.67 spg
Rushing Defense 8th 87.22 ypg Rushing Offense 12th 243.44 ypg
Passing Efficiency 22nd 154.52
THE GIFT OF GRAB: Wide receiver Zach Zweifel, who led the Bulldogs in pass receptions (38) as a true freshman last season, tops UMD in that same department this fall with 31 catches for a team-leading 480 yards and four touchdowns (both career bests). The 2011 All-NSIC second team pick is one of just two Bulldogs (rookie wide out Justin Fowlkes is the other) to come away with at least one reception in all nine games thus far.
ON THE RUN: UMD continues to pace the NSIC in rushing with a 243.4 yards per game average. The Bulldogs, who as a team are averaging 5.5 yards a carry this fall, have produced a 100-yard rusher in five of their nine games to date including:
Date Player (Opp) Att. Yards TD
Aug. 30 Logan Lauters (SMSU) 9 104 1
Sept. 8 Austin Sikorski (WSU) 16 113 2
Sept. 15 Chase Vogler (CSP) 10 100 2
Sept. 29 Chase Vogler (SCSU) 14 120 2
Oct. 13 Austin Sikorski (MSU) 9 106 1
THE DRIVE FOR FIVE: The 2012 Bulldogs have their collective sights on becoming the second school ever -- and first in nearly 60 years -- to lay claim to five consecutive NSIC titles. UMD, the league's first four-peat champions since 1978 (the University of Minnesota-Morris) is looking to join St. Cloud State (1951-55) in that exclusive group .
BULLDOG BITS: One year ago in their 41-28 triumph at Mary, the Bulldogs rolled up a 2011-high 410 rushing yards. Current sophomore Austin Sikorski spearheaded the ground attack, running 19 times for a career-best 185 yards and three touchdowns while teammate Brian Lucas added another 114 yards on 16 carries in that victory ... Freshman Justin Fowlkes ranks fifth among all NCAA II combatants in kick returns (29.7 yards per return) and has one touchdown to his 2012 credit. True sophomore Aaron Roth, the first Bulldog in 12 years (since Cash Langeness) to bring back two kicks for touchdowns in the same season (he hit pay dirt in each of UMD's first two home games), doesn't have enough returns (he's one shy) to qualify in the national statistics, but is averaging 36.8 yards per try. He's also the only Bulldog with a punt return to his credit this fall (12 for a 9.2 yard average). UMD has tied a program record with its three kick return touchdowns in 2012 (the 2009 and 2001 clubs share that mark) ... Since suffering a 51-49 walkoff loss at St. Cloud State last month, the Bulldogs have proceeded to post four wins in a row while outscoring the opposition 157-34. They've also allowed just 20 points in the last 14 quarters.... Senior quarterback Chase Vogler is within 130 yards of equalling a personal best for passing yardage (1,913 in 2010) and also needs just one more touchdown throw to match another career high (17 in 2010) ... Cornerback Darion Fletcher, who has made three starts this season, is UMD's only true freshman to receive playing time in 2012 ... UMD has scored at least five touchdowns in eight of its nine games thus far (the exception was four against Bemidji State two weeks ago) ... All-American senior offensive guard Garth Heikkinen will make his school-record 52nd straight start this Saturday, having cracked the starting lineup in every outing since the start of the 2009 season ... The 2012 season marks the first time in the 80-year history of UMD football that the entire regular season schedule consists of conference games only ...Sophomore inside linebacker Gavin Grady's fumble recovery for a touchdown last Saturday in Crookston was the first by a Bulldog in almost two years (Robbie Aurich versus Augustana College in the 2010 NCAA II playoff quarterfinals) ... With the exception of two occasions (Sept. 19, 2011 and Oct. 31, 2011), UMD has cracked the Top 10 in every AFCA II poll since Sept. 29, 2008. It did maintain the top spot in that ranking from Nov. 2, 2010 until after its 7-0 loss to Wayne State College (Sept. 17), when it tumbled to No. 11 ... UMD is 175-53-4 (a .763 winning percentage) all-time at Malosky Stadium, its home since the 1966 season, and has crafted an 18-1 mark there over the past three years.
ON TAP: The Bulldogs will remain at home on Nov. 10 to close out the 2012 regular season against NSIC North Division rival Northern State.
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