BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The last time Bemidji State University football lost to Southwest Minnesota State University: Nov. 8, 1998. That span of 13 wins in a row is on the line this week as the Beavers (0-1, 0-0 NSIC North) travel to Marshall, Minn., for its first road game of the season at 6 p.m. Saturday against the Mustangs (1-0, 0-0 NSIC South).
Bemidji State and Southwest Minnesota State meet for the 44th time in the series history, in which the Beavers lead 22-20-1. The Mustangs hold a 12-9 record when playing in Marshall, Minn., but the Beavers have won six in a row as the visiting squad. BSU faced its closest call to ending the winning streak in the two teams’ most recent matchup that the Beavers won, 41-40.
BSU’s “Gang Green” defense looked strong early a week ago as it hosted Augustana, but hiccups on special teams proved to be the deciding factor in its 35-14 loss. A blocked punt, turnover on downs out of a punt formation and a 100-yard kickoff return paced the Vikings in their win.
SMSU edged out Minot State in its season opener, coming back from five points down in the fourth quarter to win, 21-20.
- Bemidji State leads the all-time series 22-20-1, including a 13-game win streak dating back to Nov. 8, 1998.
- The Beavers and Mustangs last met on Sept. 28, 2013, ending as a comeback win, 41-40, for BSU on homecoming.
- SMSU owns the series record at Mattke Field in Marshall, Minn., 12-9, although BSU has won its previous six games as the away team.
- Head Coach Jeff Tesch is 14-1 against the Mustangs since taking over the program.
- BSU is 14-29 all-time in games following a season-opening loss, including 3-3 under Tesch.
- The Beavers return 50 letterwinners from a season ago, including 10 regular offensive starters.
- Sophomore quarterback Jordan Hein became the first Beaver to score at least two touchdowns in back-to-back season openers since former quarterback Derek Edholm did so in 2008. The two rushing touchdowns nearly totaled his 2014 total on the ground of three.
- Hein led the Beavers in rushing in 2014 logging 367 yards and three touchdowns on 107 carries. BSU’s quarterback has paced its ground game in three of its last four seasons. That trend continued a week ago, as Hein led the team in rushing with 63 yards on the ground.
- Linebacker Colton Blascyk and defensive back Kaleb Olszewski led the defense against Augustana with eight tackles apiece. Blascyk finished the 2014 season second on the team with 79 tackles. Olszewski became the first Beavers freshman with at least eight tackles in a season opener since 2004 when defensive back Jeremiah Johnson totaled nine.
- Defensive back Kameel Al-Khouri followed close behind in tackles with seven, while also grabbing BSU’s first interception of the season.
- Wide receiver Christian Lunde caught 10 passes against Augustana to become the first Beavers receiver to reach double digits since George Kadlec caught 10 passes at Minot State on August 28, 2008.
- Bemidji State’s offensive line is the second heaviest in all of the NSIC, weighing in at a whopping 1,543 lbs., which averages out to 308.6 per player. Only Minnesota State Mankato outweighs BSU with an offensive line of 1,572 lbs., a 314.4 average per player.
- A year ago the Beavers were the least penalized team in the NSIC and sat fourth in the nation averaging 29.4 penalty yards per game. In 2014, BSU ranked fourth in the league at 36.3 penalty yards per game and have been flagged just 14 times in three games. That trend continued a week ago as the Beavers received the fourth fewest penalties in the NSIC.
- Returning on offense from 2014 includes First-Team All-NSIC receiver Blake Holder and an offensive line anchored by Second-Team All-NSIC selections Matthew Valentine and Jesse Hein.
- Five starters return on defense from 2014, led by Second-Team All-NSIC pick Colton Blascyk, who was second on the team with 79 tackles a year ago.
- The 30-point plateau has been a fulcrum point for BSU in recent years. Since 1999, BSU is 69-9 (.885) when scoring more than 30 points, while it is 99-23 (.812) when holding its opponents under 30 points.
Southwest Minnesota State:
- The Mustangs hold a 180-300-5 all-time record in its 48-year history.
- Southwest Minnesota State head coach Cory Sauter is in his sixth season and has an overall record of 21-35, including 21-33 in conference games.
- The Mustangs are 17-23 in eight years of play on Mattke Field in Marshall, Minn.
- Running back Davontay Stevens replaced a graduating SMSU two-year starter by rushing for a career-high 164 yards on 27 carries, with one touchdown, against Minot State in Week One. His rushing total is second most in the NSIC so far.
- Quarterback Blake Gimbel also took over for a graduating two-year starter by throwing 23-of-42 and two touchdown passes in the season opener.
- The Mustangs allowed 368 total yards on defense during week one, including 235 passing and 133 rushing.
- Southwest Minnesota State finished the 2014 season with a record of 3-8 overall and 2-5 in the NSIC South Division. SMSU finished tied for 13th overall and tied for sixth in the South Division.
- SMSU returns two players who earned All-NSIC South Division honors in 2014. Senior cornerback Andrew McReynolds was named second team All-NSIC South, while sophomore wide receiver Nate Huot was named honorable mention All-NSIC South.
- SMSU recorded 71 offensive/defensive plays or kick/punt returns of 20 or more yards in 2014, including 42 by the Mustang offense (15 run, 27 pass).
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).