HOLMGREN: Beavers shouldn’t take Minnesota Crookston lightly

Only eight of 167 Division II football teams remain winless.

Two of the eight square off on Saturday.

Minot State, riding a 10-game losing streak, hosts Minnesota Crookston, saddled by an 11-game skid.

On the road this season, the Beavers have been, at times, hard to watch.

But at home, they’ve been markedly better (with the exception of an eye-sore of a home opener against Upper Iowa).

In its past two home games, MSU has displayed the ability to challenge winning products.

In narrow losses to the Wayne State (4-3) and rival Mary (4-3), the Beavers competed with some fire in their bellies.

This week, MSU needs to play with that same passion. Because if not, ending the season with a 0-11 record becomes a real possibility.

Fortunately for the Beavers, they get Crookston at Herb Parker Stadium.

To say the Golden Eagles have trouble on the road is like saying the Denver Broncos merely struggled against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Crookston has lost 34 consecutive Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference road games, including a 38-14 whipping to the Beavers in 2012.

The last time UMC beat a Division II opponent on the road, I was a junior in high school.

That means MSU’s true freshmen were just beginning middle school the last time the Golden Eagles left a conference road trip with a ‘W.’

Crookston hasn’t beaten a D-II team on the road since Nov. 3, 2007, when it snuck past Minnesota State-Moorhead 42-38.

The Beavers need to win this game.

After Crookston, the remainder of MSU’s schedule includes a road test against an embattled but improved Moorhead squad and home games against a perennially strong St. Cloud State team and No. 2 Minnesota Duluth.

As poor as the Golden Eagles are on the road, MSU shouldn’t take them lightly.

Last week, UMC took Mary down to the wire in a 17-10 home loss.

And every year, it seems Crookston somehow wins a game or two it probably shouldn’t.

Last season, the Golden Eagles knocked off Bemidji State and Moorhead. The year before, they edged Southwest Minnesota State and Mary.

Crookston isn’t good, but it doesn’t go winless very often, either.

It’s easy to get excited for homecoming (Wayne State) or a rivalry game (Mary). It’s no cinch to get fired up to play a team like Crookston.

It’s easy to look past the Golden Eagles.

Minot State absolutely, positively cannot afford to do so.

Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.