GAME OF THE WEEK
MSU Mankato at SW Minnesota State, 6 p.m.: MSU Mankato, ranked as high as No. 3 in Division II preseason polls, brings a 24-game regular-season winning streak into the contest in Marshall. The host Mustangs are 0-17 all-time against the Mavericks.
WEEK 1 STORY LINES
• Concordia (Moorhead), which was picked No. 4 in the MIAC preseason coaches’ poll, has finished .500 or better overall and in league games for the past 12 seasons. The Cobbers will be tested early this season with nonconference games at Wisconsin-La Crosse, which received votes in the D3football.com preseason poll, and at home against No. 4 Wisconsin-Whitewater.
• As they did last year, NSIC teams will play four teams from the opposite NSIC division in Weeks 5-8. A team’s seven divisional games will be in Weeks 1-4 and 9-11. Before last season, the four non-divisional games were played in Weeks 1-4.
• Since 2010, St. Scholastica has gone 68-9 in the UMAC. But the Saints haven’t won a conference title since 2015. The Saints, who were 6-4 overall and 6-2 in the UMAC last season, were picked to finish fourth in the UMAC preseason poll. The Saints play host to Mayville State in their season opener.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Josh Parks, RB, St. Thomas: The senior from Chisago Lakes is a preseason first-team All-America after rushing for 1,266 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.
Nate Gunn, RB, MSU Mankato: The senior from Minooka, Ill., set school single-season records last season in rushing yards (1,705), touchdowns (22) and carries (356).
BY THE NUMBERS
8 Consecutive seasons that the MIAC has led Division III in attendance. The 50 MIAC games last season averaged 2,922 fans.
18 The rank for St. John’s among the top 50 college football programs of the past 150 years, according to ESPN.
23 Consecutive losses for Crown dating to the 2016 season.