in NCAA playoffs
Emporia State (9-2) at MSU, Mankato (10-1), 1 p.m. Saturday
Emporia State earned the seventh — and final — Super Region Three playoff spot despite losing to top-seeded Northwest Missouri State 44-10 on Nov. 7. MSU, Mankato, ranked No. 5 nationally, lost in the Division II title game a year ago and is aiming for a return trip. Emporia State is ranked No. 23 nationally, but the difference between the teams on paper is defense. Emporia State is giving up 25.5 points a game, Mankato 12.9.
Other NSIC teams
Augustana (9-2) at Humboldt State (9-1), 2 p.m. Saturday.
Sioux Falls (9-2) at Henderson State (10-1), noon Saturday.
La Verne (8-1) at St. Thomas (10-0), noon Saturday
The No. 4-ranked Tommies will be heavy favorites against unranked La Verne (Calif.). The Tommies appear built for November and December playoff football with a huge offensive line, a strong running game and a solid defense. UST junior Jordan Roberts has rushed for 1,439 yards and 24 TDs. La Verne features a spread, no-huddle offense that averages 39.6 points. But the Leopards’ defense yields 28.8 points a game, a stat that on paper is the difference between the two teams. St. Thomas averages 56.4 points and gives up just 8.1 per game.
Dubuque (8-2) at St. John’s (9-1), noon Saturday
This is a rematch of the season opener for both teams, won by St. John’s 45-9. Dubuque started its season 0-2 and was outscored 76-16. But the Spartans have reeled off eight straight victories and scored more than 30 points in each of the past six games. Dubuque QB Rio Johnson made his first start as Spartans’ QB against St. John’s and completed just 15 of 30 passes. But since then, he’s completed 68.7 percent of his passes. St. John’s features a strong ground game led by Sam Sura, who has rushed for 1,476 yards and 23 TDs. The Johnnies are ranked No. 10 nationally, while Dubuque is No. 18.
St. Scholastica (9-1) at UW-Oshkosh (9-1), 3 p.m. Saturday
The Saints have won 30 straight UMAC games, but will be heavy underdogs against Oshkosh, which claimed the WIAC title on the strength of a 10-7 victory over perennial national power UW-Whitewater. Oshkosh is ranked No. 3 nationally; in 2012, it defeated St. Scholastica 55-10 in the first round of the playoffs. Scholastica is making its fifth straight playoff appearance but seeking its first postseason victory.