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Sole possession of first place in the NSIC football standings will be at stake on Saturday when Minnesota State Mankato plays at Bemidji State.

The Mavericks, ranked No. 5 in Division-II, and the Beavers, ranked No. 7, are tied for first place with 4-0 records.

The Mavericks have won the last three meetings — and seven of the last eight — in the series. The rivals met in the season opener last year in Bemidji, with the Mavericks scoring in the final two minutes to rally for a 37-34 victory.

Both teams cruised to victories last week. Brandon Alt threw four touchdown passes to lead the Beavers over Mary 41-10 in Bismarck, N.D., while Shen Butler-Lawson rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Mavericks over Concordia (St. Paul) 42-10 at home.

Alt is 10th in D-II with 10 TD passes while Butler-Lawson, who leads D-II with 667 rushing yards, went over 100 yards for the third time in four games.

Here are four other things to watch this week:

St. Thomas travels to Dayton

For the third consecutive week, St. Thomas will be facing an opponent for the first time. On Saturday, the Tommies will play at Dayton in a Pioneer League contest.

The Tommies (2-2), defending Pioneer League champions, are seeking their 12th consecutive conference victory after opening conference play last week with a 35-28 victory at home over Morehead State.

The Tommies were led by junior Shawn Shipman, who ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns to become the first Tommie in the Division-I era to rush for more than 200 yards in a game.

With touchdown runs of 61 and 71 yards, Shipman became the first St. Thomas running back to post two runs of 60 or more yards in the same game.

Dayton (2-2), which was picked third — behind the Tommies and Davidson — in the Pioneer League preseason poll, began its conference schedule last Saturday with a 40-25 loss at San Diego.

Week 2 of MIAC conference play

The second week of conference play in the MIAC is highlighted by two games involving the last remaining unbeaten teams in the conference — Carleton (3-0) travels to Moorhead to play Concordia (2-1), while Augsburg (3-0) plays host to St. John's (2-1).

Carleton outlasted Hamline 31-27 in Northfield last Saturday, while Augsburg scored with one second remaining to rally for a 35-33 victory over Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter. The Auggies ended a seven-game losing streak to the Gusties.

St. John's (2-1), which defeated Bethel 27-7 last Saturday in Collegeville, has won the last nine meetings with the Auggies.

MIAC receivers standing out

Three of the top six receivers in receptions per game in Division-III are from MIAC teams.

Gustavus Adolphus senior Jake Breitbach leads D-III with 14.3 receptions per game (43 in three games) and in receiving yards (639).

Carleton junior Ntense Obono and Hamline senior Charlie Wilson are tied for fifth with nine receptions per game. Wilson is tied for first in D-III with 10 touchdown receptions.

Wilson, a senior from Woodbury, passed for 216 yards and four touchdowns in Hamline's loss to Carleton.

UMAC begins conference play

After two seasons with seven teams, the six-team UMAC opens conference play on Saturday.

Northwestern (St. Paul), the defending conference champion, plays at Martin Luther in New Ulm, Minn., while Greenville (Ill.) plays host to Minnesota Morris. Greenville and Northwestern tied for the top spot in the conference preseason poll.

Greenville is 3-1, while Northwestern is 1-3. Last season, Northwestern went 0-4 in nonconference games before going 6-0 in conference play to qualify for the D-III playoffs.

The conference is down to six teams after Finlandia, located in Houghton, Mich., ceased operations following the 2022-23 school year. Finlandia went winless in its two seasons in the UMAC.