NO. 2 UMD TO INVADE ST. CLOUD STATE SATURDAY NIGHT FOR NSIC NORTH DIVISION COLLISION
Thursday, September 27, 2012
With an unblemished 2012 record in tow, the University of Minnesota Duluth will take its show on the road to St. Cloud, Minn. this Saturday (Sept. 29) for a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division confrontation with St. Cloud State University. Opening kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. at Husky Stadium (4,198 capacity/artificial turf) on the St. Cloud State campus.
Complete Release (pdf)
THE RECORDS: UMD, the four-time reigning NSIC champions, is off to a 4-0 overall and league start this fall while St. Cloud State sports a 2-2 record.
HOW THEY RANK: Here is how UMD and St. Cloud State stacked up in this week's American Football Coaches Association Division II and the D2Football.com polls.
UMD No. 2 No. 2
SCSU NR NR
THE BROADCAST: The Bulldog-Husky clash will be carried on 1490 The Fan (KQDS-AM) with Jeff Papas handling the play-by-play responsibilities and UMD Athletic Hall of Famer Scott "Honey Bear" Hanna providing color commentary. 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, Saturday's game will be videostreammed live 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, 94 victories and a .797 overall winning percentage. Bob Nielson has accomplished all this -- and much more -- in his nine-plus 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 94-24 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 164-57-1 (.741) in his 19 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, 52, 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) 94-24 (10th)
Overall Coaching Record (Year) 164-57-1 (20th)
Career NSIC Record 72-14
Career NCAA II Playoff Record 11-3
Career Home Record (UMD) 49-8
Career Away Record (UMD) 45-16
vs. St. Cloud State (Overall) 5-2
vs. St. Cloud State (UMD) 5-2
THE SERIES: The Bulldogs and Huskies have collided 44 times previously in a rivalry which began back in 1933 -- the third year of intercollegiate football at UMD. St. Cloud State holds a razor-thin 23-21 lead in the all-time series, but is just 1-7 in its last eight meetings with its long-time intrastate rival. The Huskies prevailed, however, in the most recent confrontation (Oct. 27, 2011), blasting the then-No. 6 Bulldogs 35-7 in St. Cloud. St. Cloud State, which was then ranked 11th nationally at the time, scored on their first possession of the afternoon and never looked back, taking a 21-0 into halftime. The Huskies were up 35-0 with 7:20 to go in the fourth quarter before UMD senior running back Zach Hulce ran for a five-yard touchdown to spoil the shutout bid.
LAST WEEK: The Bulldogs raced to a 35-6 halftime lead and then held on to nip visiting Augustana College 42-34 Saturday night. Junior running back Austin Sikorski and junior wide receiver Joe Reichert each had a pair of touchdowns while senior quarterback Chase Vogler completed 17 of 29 passes for 227 yards and two scores in helping propel the Bulldogs past the scrappy Vikings for the sixth straight time. UMD sophomore Aaron Roth also returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and sophomore inside linebacker Colby Ring parlayed a second-quarter interception into a 23-yard pick six. Augustana College concluded the night with slight edges statistically in total offense yardage (409 to 404), first downs (26 to 21) and time of possession (30:27 to 29:33) and held one of the nation's top rushing offenses to a season-low 177 yards (on 37 carries).
St. Cloud State pulled out a 24-10 NSIC victory at Wayne State College Saturday afternoon as running back Junior Walker rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. Cornerback Jack Moro aided the Husky cause defensively by picking off three passes, one of which he brought back 17 yards for a first half score..
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 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.
LET'S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD: In its last 31 games away from James S. Malosky Stadium (a run which began with a 23-13 win against St. Cloud State in the 2007 season finale). UMD has gone 29-2. Both of those two losses were incurred last year at Wayne State College (7-0 on Sept. 17) and St. Cloud State (35-7 on Oct. 29).
START ME UP: All-American senior offensive guard Garth Heikkinen has cracked the UMD starting lineup in every game since the opening of the 2009 season and this Saturday in St. Cloud he'll equal a program record when he makes his 47th consecutive start. All-American quarterback and one-time Harlon Hill Award quarterfinalist Ted Schlafke (2005-08) currently holds that mark.
ON THE RUN: UMD continues to pace the NSIC and is 13th among all NCAA II clubs in rushing with a 266.8 yards per game average. The Bulldogs, who as a team are averaging 6.0 yards a carry this fall, have produced a different 100-yard rusher in three games of their four 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
CUTTING TO THE CHASE: Senior Chase Vogler, who earlier this month was selected the D2Football.com National Offensive Player of the Week for his exemplary performance at Concordia University-St. Paul, currently ranks third among all NCAA II quarterbacks in passing efficiency (169.12). The Inver Grove Heights, Minn., native will head into St. Cloud holding down the No. 3 spot on UMD's all-time charts for both passing yardage (6,150) and total offense (8,353 yards). In 46 career appearances with the Bulldogs, Vogler has completed 63.6 percent of his throws and has also run for more yards (2,203 for a 5.3 yards per carry average) than any UMD field general. He's also a remarkable 40-4 as a starter (which is school record for wins) since assuming that role three years ago as a first-year freshman.
SOMETHING SPECIAL: True sophomore Aaron Roth, the reigning NSIC Special Teams Player of the Week, owns the second best kickoff return average in the county at the moment (39.0) and is the first Bulldog in 12 years (since Cash Langeness) to bring back two kicks for touchdown in the same seasons (he also turned that trick at home against Winona State).
GETTING HIS KICKS: Redshirted freshman Andrew Brees, who spent last season watching David Nadeau put the finishing touches on the most prolific placekicking career in UMD history, has been perfect in both the extra point boots (25-of-25) and field goal (2-for-2) department as a collegian. Two weeks ago in UMD's 70-24 throttling of Concordia-St. Paul, Brees matched a Bulldog single-game record by nailing 10 point afters.
PROTECT THAT FOOTBALL: It took three games and change, but UMD finally turned the football over for the first time in 2012 last Saturday when senior quarterback Chase Vogler's 78th pass of the year (on the first play of the second quarter) was picked off by Augustana College's Ross Peterson. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have created a mere three turnovers of their own -- one fumble recovery (by junior free safety Travis Nordhus against Winona State University) and two interceptions (by junior cornerback Kenny Chowa at Southwest Minnesota State University and junior inside linebacker Colby Ring this past Saturday).
THE DRIVE FOR FIVE ROLLS ON: 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 (University of Minnesota-Morris) is looking to join St. Cloud State University (1951-55) in that exclusive group.
BULLDOG BITS: Prior to last Saturday night, the Bulldogs had outscored their previous three opponents 79-13 in the final two quarters, but Augustana turned the tables by outpointing UMD 28-7 after the halftime break ... Third-year starting free safety Cameron Harper, who is one of three Bulldogs to take part in all 46 games over the past three-plus seasons (quarterback Chase Vogler and offensive guard Garth Heikkinen are the two others) now ranks 12th on UMD's all-time tackles list with 231 stops. Harper's former teammate, outside linebacker Derrick Zappa occupies the No. 11 spot on that chart with 239 stops ... The Bulldogs are 93-1 in the last 94 outings they've been ahead after three quarters -- a run which dates back to November 2001 ... Wide receiver Zach Zweifel, UMD's pass reception leader one year ago as a true freshman, paces the Bulldogs in that same department this fall with 18 catches for 191 yards. He shares that honor with junior wide out Joe Reichert, who last week rolled up a career-high 95 pass reception yards and two touchdowns (on five catches). Reichert has managed to latch on to at least one pass in 17 of 18 games since the start of the 2011 season (he was blanked in the NCAA II playoff quarterfinal matchup with Wayne State University last November in Duluth) ... Last Saturday was the first time this season the Bulldogs got on the scoreboard first ... UMD's propensity to put up points in 2012 (the Bulldogs are, at the moment, the nation's fifth highest scoring team at 48.6 points per game, has meant somewhat limited field activity for junior Alex Brown. In four games to date he has been called on to punt a mere 10 times ... This season marks the first time in the 80-year history of UMD football that the entire regular season schedule consists of conference games only ... Cornerback Darion Fletcher, who has started each of the past two games, is the only true freshman to see playing time thus far in 2012 ..With the exception of two times (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 ... The Bulldogs have now won 36 straight NSIC home engagements going back to a 37-27 loss to Concordia University-St. Paul on Oct. 7, 2000. Even more impressive, UMD is 41-0 overall (includes NCAA II playoffs and non-conference games) against NSIC schools at James S. Malosky Stadium during that stretch ...The 37 total first downs the Bulldogs amassed as a team in there 70-24 triumph at Concordia-St. Paul on Sept. 15 were five more than the previous school record set against Bemidji State back on Sept. 16, 1978 ... UMD head coach Bob Nielson will turn 53 the day before his Bulldogs and St. Cloud State butt heads
ON TAP: The Bulldogs will return to Malosky Stadium on Oct. 6 to face Minnesota State University-Moorhead in their annual Hall of Fame Game.
Return to all news.