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Eric Peterson, Published November 08 2012

Postseason hopes hang in the balance for Cobbers football team on Saturday

MOORHEAD – Concordia still has postseason hope.

The Cobbers enter the final game in the regular season with a chance to make the NCAA Division III football playoffs for the first time since 2005.

“We are in the hunt,” Cobbers head coach Terry Horan said. “How good of shape are we in? There are two at-large teams ahead of us in our region.”

Concordia closes out the regular season at 1 p.m. Saturday at Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe Gustavus.

The Cobbers (7-2, 5-2 MIAC) are ranked No. 8 in this week’s West Region rankings, with the NCAA selection show slated for Sunday. Concordia hopes it can land one of the seven at-large bids into the 32-team tournament.

“We need to win, but we need a little help, too,” said Horan.

Bethel (7-2) and Pacific Lutheran (6-2) are two in-region teams that will likely affect whether or not the Cobbers make the playoffs. A loss by either of those teams or both would help Concordia’s cause. Pacific Lutheran is ranked No. 6 in the West, while Bethel is in the No. 7 spot.

Bethel hosts St. John’s to end the season, while PLU plays at Menlo.

“If both of them lose and we win, we have a great shot,” Horan said. “If one of them loses, I think there is a good shot. There is a slim shot if all of us win.”

The Cobbers are tied for second place in the MIAC with Bethel and St. Olaf.

The Oles (7-2) are also a two-loss team, but they play unbeaten St. Thomas, which has earned the automatic bid from the MIAC, to end the regular season.

The Cobbers are hoping that their heartbreaking 15-14 loss at Bethel doesn’t cost them, but it could. If Concordia and Bethel both end at 8-2, that game would most likely put Bethel in ahead of the Cobbers.

“Bottom line we knew that as soon as that thing finished, that could come back to bite us,” Horan said. “We have moved forward great, and we need a good performance Saturday, and that’s what we are expecting.”

There is a chance the MIAC could have three teams make the field, considering the league has a 16-1 record in nonconference games. However, it’s a rarity that one league gets three teams in the Division III playoffs.

“It’s not unheard of, but there are going to be a lot of good teams that don’t make it and one of them could be us,” Horan said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com