Friday, December 10, 2010

Bearcat Playoff Preview: University of Minnesota Duluth

Central Missouri - 20
Northwest Missouri State - 37

Well in a bit of a contrast from their first meeting, the offenses showed up this time. Bolles out shinned the other Harlon Hill finalist Eric Czerniewski, throwing three touchdowns and leading the Bearcats over the Mules in convincing fashion. Which sets up a revenge date with Minnesota Duluth in the National Semi-final.

Northwest Missouri State (12-1) at
University of Minnesota Duluth (13-0)
James A. Malosky Stadium, Duluth, MN Saturday, 5:00 pm CST

Offense
Duluth comes into this match with the 15th ranked total offense, the 3rd ranked scoring offense, 4th ranked rushing offense and the 110th ranked passing offense. I think they like to run the ball. Led by SR RB Brad Foss and SO QB Chase Vogler the Bulldogs will run the ballThey've put up some solid offensive numbers this year. They obviously have a solid running game cause you don't put up those kinds of numbers if you are good. . But, looking at their competition, the best overall defense they faced was Augustana which is ranked #4, but that was in the playoffs. During the season they faced the 138th, 133, 70th, 94th, 148th and 52nd ranked scoring defenses int he nation. At the same time, these numbers are very similar to the numbers they posted two years ago when they shocked the Cats in the Championship game. And NW isn't as strong defensively this year as that year, one could argue.

Northwest, in the mean time, is bringing the best offense the Bulldogs have seen this season to the game. Bolles and crew are going to have to find a way to take advantage of the Bulldogs passing defense in what promises to be a nasty, nasty day.

Defense
Scarier than their offense, is UMD's defense. The top scoring defense in the nation features the 8th total and rush defense and the 28th ranked pass defense. But looking at TOP the Bulldogs are 4th in the nation. I think the ball control style of offense really helps this defense. But you're not top ranked for nothing and the Cats will likely have a tough time scoring against this D.

Northwest is facing another high-powered attack. This time on the ground. They shut down Central's passing game last week and the rush defense is the strength of this team. The Bearcats are going to stack the box to stop Foss. The good news is that SR RB Isaac Odim was lost midway through the season. Should be a tough match-up for the Cats.

The Prediction
Two years ago The Bearcats didn't take this team seriously in Florence. I don't think Mel will let that happen again. The Bearcats will be ready. That said, the forecast for this game really favors the Bulldogs. The middle of December in Minnesota is as evil a place on earth as there is. And the Bulldogs are built for this kind of weather. In order for the Bearcats to win they have get the ball. And the defense has been doing that all playoffs long. Plus the Cats are getting all the lucky breaks this year. It's just hard to go against them right now. NWMSU - 24 UMD - 20.

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