If the Dickinson State football teams wins on Saturday, they’ll be outright conference champs. And coach Pete Stanton has already said this is not just another game.
“This is a playoff game,” head coach Pete Stanton said. “Dakota State is ranked 25th in the nation. It’s a chance for us to win a conference championship outright this week.”
That’s true coach. However, to be fair, the Blue Hawks come in ranked 15th in the country and with a 6-0 record in the North Star.
With the enormous talent Dakota State possesses, Coach Stanton thinks the first 15 minutes of game action may be the most important.
“[Jacob] Giles is an all-conference quarterback,” Stanton said. “He just became their career passing leader with over 7,000 yards. They have an All-American receiver in [Austin] Opdahl. They are very explosive.”
Dakota State is easily the toughest conference opponent DSU will face this season.
A win secures a spot in the national tournament, while a loss means the Blue Hawks have to hope teams ranked higher than them lose, so they can climb back up the rankings and hope for an at-large bid.
“We may look at it,” Stanton said. “Our guys may look at it. As soon as people start looking at polls and looking out ahead good things just don’t happen.”
So as cliche as the saying is, the Blue Hawks just need to take it one game at a time, which is really important when you consider the recent history between these two programs.
“They’re a team that we’ve been really even with the past couple of years,” Stanton said. “[Madison] is a tough place to play. We’re going to have to be ready to go and play our best game of the year.”
DSU has a seven-hour bus ride down to Madison. The game starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday.