St. Cloud State (12-1) at Northwest Missouri State (12-0), noon

St. Cloud State, seeded No. 6 out of six teams in Division II Super Region 3, has recorded two road upsets to advance to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA playoffs for just the second time in school history (the other time was 1989). The Huskies defeated fourth-seeded Henderson (Ark.) State 40-35 on Nov. 23, and then outlasted No. 2 seed Minnesota State, Mankato, 54-48 last Saturday. Northwest Missouri State, the top seed in the region, had a first-round bye and then defeated Minnesota Duluth 45-21 last Saturday. The Bearcats, who built a 31-0 lead en route to the victory over the Bulldogs, have reached at least the second round of the Division II playoffs for the 10th consecutive year (the longest current streak in D-II). The Bearcats have outscored opponents 550-197 this season. The Huskies and Bearcats have met just once previously in 1988. The Huskies won that game 41-0 in Maryville, Mo.


North Central (12-0) at Bethel (12-0), noon

North Central, which is ranked No. 4 in the poll, is in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and eighth out of the past nine. The Cardinals, who went 10-0 in the regular season for the third time in school history, are coming off a 52-24 second-round victory over Wisconsin-Platteville last Saturday. The Cardinals defeated Albion 63-7 in the first round on Nov. 23. Bethel, ranked No. 6, defeated Wartburg 34-27 last Saturday. Backup quarterback Tom Keefe replaced Erik Peterson, who suffered a shoulder injury late in the third quarter, and completed nine of 12 passes for 148 yards and two TDs (including the game-winner with 1:18 left) to spark the Royals. Keefe, a senior from Wausau, Wis., had thrown just 16 passes in four seasons with the Royals before that game. In the first round on Nov. 23, the Royals defeated St. Scholastica 70-13. This is the first meeting between the two teams.

Joel Rippel