Four state teams in playoffs or bowl
DIVISION II QUARTERFINAL
Tarleton State (12-0) at MSU Mankato (12-0), 1 p.m.: Tarleton State, ranked No. 6 in the final Division II regular-season poll, reached the quarterfinals for the first time by outlasting defending national champion Texas A&M-Commerce 34-28. The Texans, who have averaged 321.8 rushing yards per game, have two 1,000 yard rushers — Xavier Turner (1,391 yards, 22 TDs) and Daniel McCants (1,124 yards, eight TDs). Top-ranked MSU Mankato has reached the quarterfinals for the fourth time since 2012. The Mavericks lost 31-21 to Texas A&M-Commerce at home in the quarterfinals last year. The Mavericks defense has allowed just 84.8 rushing yards (eighth in Division II) and 15.5 points (also eighth) per game.
MINERAL WATER BOWL
MSU Moorhead (8-3) vs. Missouri S&T (9-2) at Excelsior Springs, Mo., noon: The first-ever meeting between the two ends a long postseason drought for each. MSU Moorhead is playing in the postseason for the first time since 1994, while Missouri S&T is making its first postseason appearance in 68 years. The eight victories are the most for the Dragons since 1991. The Dragons have relied on Jakup Sinani and Bryce Meehl, who combined to pass for 2,650 yards and 17 touchdowns. Grady Bresnahan has 75 receptions — seventh most in NCAA Division II. Missouri S&T (formerly known as Missouri-Rolla) closed the regular season with five consecutive victories while averaging 41.4 points in those games. Tyler Swart has passed for 2,724 yards and 25 TDs for the Miners.
DIVISION III QUARTERFINALS
Bethel (11-1) at Wis.-Whitewater (12-0), noon: Bethel outlasted North Central (Ill.) 27-24 on the road last Saturday to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2013. The Royals have been led by Sam Gibas, who has rushed for 1,069 yards, and Jaran Roste, who has passed for 1,644 yards and 11 TDs and rushed for 962 yards and 18 TDs. The host Warhawks reached the quarterfinals with victories over Eureka (67-14) and St. Norbert (54-21). The Warhawks, who have an 18-game winning streak, missed the playoffs last season for just the second time since 2005. The Warhawks won their final six games in 2017. They have been led by Alex Peete, who has rushed for 1,180 yards and 21 TDs. It is the first meeting between the two programs.
St. John’s (12-0) at Mary Hardin-Baylor (12-0), noon: The Johnnies, in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006, and Mary Hardin-Baylor, which has won 41 of its past 42 games and reached the Division III championship game the past two seasons, are meeting for the first time. The matchup features two of the top three offenses in Division III. The Johnnies, who defeated Martin Luther (84-6) and Whitworth (45-24) at home in the first two rounds, rank third with 49.9 points per game. Jackson Erdmann has passed for 3,032 yards and 45 TDs with just five interceptions. Mary Hardin-Baylor leads Division III in scoring, averaging 60 points per game. The Cru, which is coming off a 75-9 second-round victory over Berry, has scored at least 68 points six times this season. Markeith Miller has rushed for 1,529 yards — seventh in D-III — and 26 TDs. The only loss in the past three seasons for the Cru, which won the championship game in 2016, was to Mount Union in last year’s championship game.