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ESU vs. Northeastern State
Game time: 1 pm, Welch Stadium
Coverage: Noon, Mix 104.9 FM and KVOE.com

Following its record-setting 54-38 shootout win over Central Oklahoma last weekend, Emporia State has entered the AFCA rankings for the first time at No. 24. Northeastern State, however, wasn’t close to the national ratings when Saturday began and fell further away from the rankings after a 48-3 loss to Washburn.

Based on trends and available personnel, this should be an easy win for the Black and Gold. Should be.

Keys to a win:

Running game. Hornet running game found some holes in the second half against Central Oklahoma, helping to blunt Central’s comeback efforts. Riverhawks were counting on running back Joel Rockmore to carry the offensive load, but he’s done for weeks after injuring his knee against Missouri Southern. Advantage: Hornets

Defense (clap clap) defense (clap clap). Last two games haven’t been stellar for ESU, but Central Oklahoma has the athletes to gash even the better defenses in the MIAA. Despite giving up nearly 50 points last weekend, NSU’s defense was a bright spot for the team after forcing five interceptions. Advantage: Hornets.

Tempo. Northeastern State has eight starters out for the year. If the Hornets can maintain an uptempo pace for most of the game, the second half could get real ugly for the visitors from Tahlequah. Advantage: Hornets.

Final score: ESU 55, Northeastern State 24