Beavers Football to play Ichabods in 51st annual Mineral Water Bowl Saturday

Beavers Football to play Ichabods in 51st annual Mineral Water Bowl Saturday
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Beavers Football to play Ichabods in 51st annual Mineral Water Bowl Saturday

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Bemidji State University and Washburn University kick off the 51st annual Mineral Water Bowl Saturday at 12 p.m. at Tigers Stadium in Excelsior Springs, Mo. The Beavers (8-3) and Ichabods (7-4) represent their respective conferences in the bowl game between the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

The Series
Bemidji State and Washburn have never met in BSU’s 90 seasons as a program. The Ichabods have a program history that dates back 125 years when the program began in 1891. Washburn has played 1,159 total games, winning 541 for a winning percentage of .486.

Interim Head Coach Brent Bolte, in his 18th season overall at BSU, is 8-3 since taking the reins of the program. He helped guide Bemidji State to a 45-17 road upset over previously No. 6 ranked Minnesota State University Mankato and the program’s first national ranking since 2011.

The Teams
Bemidji State:
The Beavers enter their second-ever postseason appearance on the heels of earning a program-record 17 All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference team members. Eight student-athletes were named All-NSIC First Team, six were named All-NSIC Second Team and three earned All-NSIC Honorable Mention. Junior quarterback Jordan Hein drove one of the most productive BSU offenses in program history en route to earning a nomination for the 2016 Harlon Hill trophy. He finished his junior season as the program’s all-time leader in passing yards (6,116), total touchdowns responsible for (77) and passing touchdowns (59). He also set the BSU single-season passing efficiency record (167.4) and tied the previous record of 27 touchdown passes in one season. Hein finished the regular season ranked among the top 20 in the nation in seven offensive categories.

Bemidji State’s offense is one of the most potent in the nation, ranking fourth in the NCAA in scoring offense (46.5 ppg) and total offense (524.0 ypg). The offensive line that earned four All-NSIC student-athletes helped produce a BSU single-season record 5,777 total offensive yards and 3,263 passing yards. It was the first season in program history that BSU averaged over 500 yards per game, as the team finished averaging 525.2 yards per game. The Beavers also set a program record with 71 touchdowns during the 2016 season and ranked second in the NSIC in scoring offense.

The “Gang Green” defense was also one of the best in the NSIC, as it ranked fourth in scoring defense (24.5 ppg) and fifth in total yards allowed (397.0 ypg). The secondary produced the most interceptions (18) in the conference, led by senior defensive back Damon Benham with six. The defense also ranked second in total turnovers (27), passing yards per attempt (6.3) and pass defense efficiency (114.7). Junior defensive end Alex Burgess led the pass rush attack that produced 28 sacks on the season. Burgess led the Beavers with 7.5 sacks, which ranked seventh in the conference. Junior defensive end Jake Wirsching followed Burgess with four. Junior linebackers Trysten Ross and Jamison Evans ranked second and third on the BSU defense in tackles. Ross finished the regular season with 84 tackles and Evans totaled 77.

Washburn: The Ichabods make their first postseason appearance since 2011 and its first bowl game trip since 2010. Washburn previously advanced to the Mineral Water Bowl in 2004 where it took down Northern State University, 36-33. The Ichabods finished in a three-way tie for fourth in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

Washburn is 4-1 in postseason bowl games all-time and the MIAA is 10-6 against NSIC opponents since the Mineral Water Bowl was moved from a junior college bowl game to the current NCAA Division II game.

The Ichabods have had 79 plays of longer than 20 yards this season including 19 of more than 40. Their passing offense has produced the nation’s eighth best mark in passing yards per completion (15.9 ypc). The defense ranks 14th in the nation in turnovers gained and 26th in turnover margin. Washburn had 13 players honored on the All-MIAA football team, including one first team pick, four second team selections, two third team picks and six honorable mention selections.

For more information on the Bemidji State athletic programs, tickets or schedules, visit BSUBeavers.com, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeavers or @BSUBeaversFB), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers or facebook.com/BSUBeaverFootball) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.

Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).

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