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Today's college football matchup

Chadron State at Minnesota Duluth * What: first home football playoff game in UMD history * When: noon today * Where: Malosky Stadium (4,500 capacity, artificial turf) * Weather: Today's forecast calls for mostly sunny conditions with a high of 2...

Chadron State at Minnesota Duluth

* What: first home football playoff game in UMD history

* When: noon today

* Where: Malosky Stadium (4,500 capacity, artificial turf)

* Weather: Today's forecast calls for mostly sunny conditions with a high of 28 degrees.

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Chadron practices every Thursday at 6 a.m. and is accustomed to the cold, as is UMD, but practicing late this week with temperatures in the teens may have left the players and coaches wishing for a domed stadium. Both UMD quarterback Ted Schlafke and coach Bob Nielson sounded a little hoarse but said they were fine. "You practice out in that cold, it's tough on your voice," Nielson said. "By the end of the day, you don't have much left."

* Records: Chadron State 11-1; UMD 11-0

* Series: UMD holds a 2-0 lead, including a 35-21 victory in Duluth on Aug. 28, 2004, in former UMD coach Bubba Schweigert's head coaching debut, and a 28-17 victory the following season in Chadron, Neb.

* Radio: KHQG 102.5 FM

* Video: www.northernsun.tv

* Blog: Go to www.duluthnewstribune.com for live coverage from today's game.

* Up next: The winner advances to play the Grand Valley State-Ashland winner on Nov. 29 in the regional title game (national quarterfinals), at the site of the highest remaining seed.

EAGLES OUTLOOK

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Chadron State, the region's third seed, is coming off a 23-17 victory last Saturday over visiting Wayne State (Neb.) in the opening round of the NCAA Division II playoffs. Senior quarterback Joe McLain threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns before leaving in the third quarter with a broken collarbone. He will be replaced by sophomore Garrett Treffer. Chadron has rushed for 1,753 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, good for an average of 146 yards per game. Sophomore John Ritzen leads the way with 113 carries for 588 yards, while junior Mark Haag has added 83 carries for 372 yards. The Eagles also have a pair of big, talented receivers in 6-foot-4 junior Brandon Harrington (75 catches, 829 yards, 8 TDs) and 6-3 junior Isaac Stockton (61-697, 10 TDs).

BULLDOGS OUTLOOK

UMD is the region's second seed and had a first-round bye. The extra week has given the Bulldogs more time to prepare and get healthy, with senior safety Jim Johnson expected to play without a brace or cast today for the first time since breaking his left wrist in the second week of the season. "The bye week is definitely an advantage, but this two-week-off thing is definitely tough on us," quarterback Ted Schlafke said. "We just want to play." Sophomore running back Isaac Odim is one of just five Bulldogs to ever top 1,000 yards rushing in a season. Plus, with 21 rushing touchdowns, he is just one shy of tying the UMD single-season record set by former NFL running back Ted McKnight.

* Coaches: Bill O'Boyle is 39-9 in four seasons as the head coach at Chadron but has been with the program for 18 years overall, helping the Eagles advance to the NCAA Division II tournament seven times since 1996 and win three straight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships. O'Boyle was named the 2007 Liberty Mutual Division II Coach of the Year. ... Bob Nielson is 49-19 in six seasons at UMD and won Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2008 and 2002.

* Same opponents: Both teams beat the University of Mary, with Chadron opening the season with a 37-17 victory over Mary on Aug. 28 in Bismarck, N.D., while UMD sacked the Marauders 44-7 on Sept. 27 in Duluth.

* Rankings: Chadron State, the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Super Regional Three bracket, is No. 12 in the American Football Coaches Association Division II poll and No. 11 in the d2football.com poll; UMD, the No. 2 seed, is ranked No. 6 and 7, respectively.

Related Topics: BULLDOG SPORTSFOOTBALL
Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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