Dickinson State football travels to Northwestern College Saturday afternoon for the first round of the NAIA playoffs.
This will be the third consecutive year the Blue Hawks and Red Raiders face each other, though the previous two games came during the regular season. DSU beat Northwestern 42-13 in 2016 but lost last year 37-3.
Both offenses average at least 37 points a game, so the Blue Hawks’ defense will be counted on to come up with some big stops on the road. On paper the Blue Hawks are more than up to the task, as they rank second in the nation in takeaways per game. Defensive Coordinator Jason Thier says that ability to force turnovers is crucial to success, especially in the playoffs.
“It’s huge. If we can get three takeaways a game, which is what we’re averaging right now, we’re giving our offense a lot of great opportunities to have short fields and extra possessions,” Thier said. “Any time we can put our offense to score easily, that’s what we want to try to do.”
Kickoff Saturday is at 1 p.m CT in Orange City, Iowa.