Preview: MSU Mankato and St. Thomas football playoffs

  • Updated: December 7, 2012 - 8:15 AM

SATURDAY'S PLAYOFF GAMES

NCAA DIVISION II SEMIFINALS

Valdosta State (10-2) at MSU Mankato (13-0), 2 p.m.: Valdosta State brings an eight-game winning streak into the first meeting ever between the two. The Blazers, making their 10th postseason appearance since 2000, defeated West Alabama (49-21) and Carson-Newman (48-26) to reach the semifinals. The Blazers are averaging 42.7 points and 479.8 yards of offense per game. Freshman RB Cedric O'Neal, who has rushed for 1,055 yards and 13 TDs, leads the Blazers, who average 219.8 yards rushing per game. QB Cayden Cochran, a junior, has passed for 2,323 yards and 23 TDs with just eight interceptions. LB Chris Pope, who had 21 tackles in the victory over Carson-Newman, leads the Blazers with 107 tackles. .... The host Mavericks reached the semifinals for the first time in school history by outlasting Missouri Western 17-10 behind Connor Thomas' 159 yards rushing last Saturday. The Mavericks' defense has allowed just 2.7 yards per rush and 83.7 rushing yards per game.

NCAA DIVISION III SEMIFINALS

Wisconsin-Oshkosh (13-0) at St. Thomas (13-0), 2 p.m.: Wisconsin-Oshkosh rallied to upset Linfield 31-24 in overtime on the road last Saturday to advance. The Titans, ranked No. 5 in the final d3football.com regular-season poll, trailed 24-9 going into the fourth quarter against Linfield. Senior QB Nate Wara, who has passed for 3,045 yards and 29 TDs with just four interceptions, leads the Titans. Wara, the fourth of four brothers to play for the Titans, also has rushed for 739 yards and nine TDs. Junior Cole Myhra has rushed for 1,571 yards and 16 TDs. ... St. Thomas, ranked No. 4 in the d3football.com poll, defeated Hobart 47-7 last Saturday to reach the semifinals of the Division III playoffs for the second consecutive season. The Tommies, who lost to eventual champion Wisconsin-Whitewater 20-0 in the semifinals last season, have won 16 consecutive games at Shaughnessy Stadium.

JOEL RIPPEL

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