Northwest Missouri State (11-0) earned a perfect regular season record and a first round bye thanks in part to a defense that allowed an MIAA-low 101.8 rush yards per game.
Their first round opponent, Minnesota Duluth (11-1), represents the opposite end of the spectrum. The Bulldogs are eighth in the nation rushing for 303 yards each contest.
"They try to get guys out of position, and look to get some cutback lanes," Northwest head coach Adam Dorrel said of the UMD offense. "But we're confident in our D-line, and we think our defensive line's pretty good."
That Bearcat front four is led by the MIAA Defensive Player of the Year Matt Longacre. Longacre ranked third in the conference with 12.5 tackles for loss, and believes Northwest has to stick to the fundamentals that have led them to this point.
"Nobody's really been able to run the ball on us very well, so we try to keep doing the same thing we've been doing for 11 weeks now," Longacre said. "Really focus on our hands and our feet, that'll be very important. Hopefully it doesn't fail us now."
The Bulldogs have rushed for more than 400 yards three times this season, including a 476 yard performance in the first round of the playoffs against Emporia State.
In six of the Bearcats 11 games they allowed 75 yards or less.
Kickoff from Bearcat Stadium is set for noon Saturday. The winner will play the winner between Minnesota State and St. Cloud.
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.