GAME OF THE WEEK
St. Norbert at St. Thomas, noon, Saturday: Midwest Conference co-champion St. Norbert (8-2) is making its ninth playoff appearance in the past 14 years. St. Thomas (10-0), one of four No. 1 seeds in the 32-team Division III bracket, has won 28 of its past 29 games at home. The teams met in their 2010 and 2011 regular-season openers -- with the Tommies winning both.
WEEK 12 STORY LINES
Cobbers left out: Concordia (Moorhead), which tied Bethel for second place in the MIAC standings, was left out of the Division III playoff field. The Cobbers (8-2) were ranked No. 8 in the West Region in last week's final regional rankings and No. 22 in the d3football.com poll but were not chosen for one of the nine at-large bids. The Cobbers' only losses were to playoff-bound St. Thomas (21-7) and Bethel (15-14). WIAC co-runner-ups Wis.-Platteville and Wis.-Whitewater, the three-time Division III national champion, were also left out.
Bethel returns to playoffs: Bethel will make its seventh appearance in the Division III playoffs since 2000 after a one-year absence. The Royals (8-2) will travel to River Forest, Ill., to take on unbeaten Concordia (Ill.) in the first round. The Royals, who reached the national semifinals in 2007 and 2010, have been led by QB Erik Peterson, who has passed for 1,921 yards and 13 TDs while throwing just six interceptions, and LB Seth Mathis, who leads the team with 104 tackles and four interceptions.
Mavericks get bye, Bulldogs hit the road: As the top seed in Super Region 3, unbeaten MSU Mankato will have a first-round bye Saturday. The Mavericks (11-0), unbeaten in the regular season for the first time in school history, will play host to either No. 4-seeded NW Missouri State or No. 5-seeded Harding (Ark.) on Nov. 24. Minnesota Duluth, the No. 6 seed, will play at No. 3 seed Missouri Western State on Saturday. The Bulldogs, who have reached the quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs the past four seasons, are fourth in scoring at 45.7 points per game in their division. The winner of the Duluth/Missouri Western game will play at No. 2 seed Henderson State on Nov. 24.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ayo Idowu, DL, St. Thomas: The 6-2 senior from Woodbury led the MIAC in tackles-for-loss (13) and was second in sacks (five). He is third on the Tommies with 40 tackles (25 solo). In the Tommies' 35-21 victory over St. Olaf last Saturday, Idowu had six tackles (three solo), 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and forced a fumble.
Austin Sikorski, RB, Minnesota Duluth: The 5-10 sophomore from Plover, Wis., leads the Bulldogs with 754 rushing yards (averaging 6.0 yards per carry). Sikorski rushed for 102 yards in the Bulldogs' 49-31 victory over Northern State last Saturday and is eighth in the NSIC in rushing. He rushed for 583 yards and seven TDs in eight games as a freshman.
BY THE NUMBERS
34 Career TDs for Concordia (Moorhead) senior RB Brett Baune, breaking the school record of 33 (by current Cobbers coach Terry Horan).
100 Victories (in 10 seasons) for UMD coach Bob Nielson. The Bulldogs are 100-25 under Nielson.
347 Rushing yards -- a season high -- by St. Thomas in a 35-21 victory over St. Olaf last Saturday.