SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Augustana football team claimed the outright NSIC championship this past weekend with a 38-19 win over Bemidji State. Now they will host a playoff game for the third time in program history.
The Vikings are heading to the playoffs for the fourth time in 11 seasons under head coach Jerry Olszewski. This campaign marks the second time in three years that OJ and Augie kick-off the postseason with a home game. When the calendar turns to the second season, the Vikings play with an extra sense of energy.
“It’s awesome,” Augustana junior linebacker Haden Wallace said. “It’s always exciting to get to this time of year. It raises your heart beat a little bit. It’s just exciting. You put on all this work.”
“It’s exciting,” Augustana junior defensive back Peyton Buckley said. “It’s where this university wants to be every single year. It’s the expectation we always have. So just going out there and prove that we deserve to be here.”
Augustana enters the postseason with a 10-1 record and is ranked No. 16 in the country. A win on Saturday would match the program record for wins in a single season. The team won the first eight games of the season for the third time in program history, joining the 2010 and 1937 teams. The Vikings claimed the program’s first outright conference title since 1959.
“It’s cool to get that out right and just solo and so, it’s what we thought we could do,” Wallace said. “We’re just excited to show everybody that we did it.”
“My freshman year I was able to win one, but we had to share it,” Buckley said. “So b”Being able to win one outright was super fun. It was just super cool to do it with this group of guys. It’s a really special group this year.”
The Vikings are a four-seed in the region and meet conference rival Minnesota State in the opening round. The Mavericks are Augie’s longest-tenured opponent. This season, the Vikes earned a 28-10 win over the Mavs, who were ranked No. 3 in the country at the time, back on October 21. With the score just 7-3 at halftime, Augustana outscored Mankato by 14 over the final two quarters.
“We’re familiar with them,” Wallace said. “So, that part is it’s kind of nice. So it’s not like we got to get all these new film and just excited for the opportunity.”
“I’m glad that it’s someone we’re familiar with and we’re going to have a good plan going into it,” Buckley said. “I’m sure they will too. And I guess it’ll just come down to who executes better.”
The Vikings and the Mavericks are set to kickoff Saturday at noon at Kirkeby-Over Stadium.