The top two nationally ranked NCAA Division II football teams — Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State Mankato — will play Sept. 3 in Mankato in a season opener that will be on ESPN3 as its national “Game of the Week.” Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The game is the same night as when the Gophers open their season against Texas Christian, ranked No. 2 in Division I, at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Bulldogs and Mavericks, who ranked 1-2, respectively, in the Sporting News’ preseason poll, met in December at Blakeslee Stadium, where the host Mavericks won a Division II playoff quarterfinal.
The two defending Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference co-champions combined to go 27-2 on the season (UMD was 13-1 and MSU was 14-1).
September’s match up will mark the third meeting between the Mavericks and the Bulldogs within the past three seasons, with MSU coming away with a pair of victories in their previous two encounters, including the 44-17 quarterfinal win at Blakeslee Stadium last season. The Mavericks went on to advance to the Division II championship game, where they lost 13-0 to Colorado State-Pueblo.
UMD comes into the season sporting a 19-game regular-season winning streak — the third longest of its kind in program history and only four games off the team record set between Sept. 12, 2009, and Sept. 10, 2011.