According to the numbers, the Minot State University football team should pick up its second consecutive win and its first road victory today against Minnesota State University-Moorhead.
The Beavers average more yards through the air and on the ground, have given up less yardage and have fared better against common opponents.
But there's one statistic still haunting MSU: a negative-17 turnover margin.
Minot State University junior cornerback Kewon Tapp (9) and senior safety John Denne close in on a University of Minnesota, Crookston ball carrier during an Oct. 20 game at Herb Parker Stadium.
The Beavers (2-6) have thrown 15 interceptions and lost 10 fumbles, while forcing just eight turnovers.
"We have not done a good job of protecting it," MSU coach Paul Rudolph said. "If we protect it, we're gonna have a chance. If not, it's gonna make for a tougher day."
With both teams starting true freshmen at quarterback, Moorhead coach Steve Laqua said whichever team can establish its running game will have a clear advantage.
"If you have a true freshman quarterback, if you can run the ball, it can take some pressure off him and the plays he's gotta make," Laqua said. "If you can't run the ball, it can force the quarterback to go out of his comfort zone to try to make plays."
The Beavers, whose defensive players describe themselves as a run-stopping unit, face one of the worst rushing attacks in the conference. Moorhead (1-7) averages 65 yards a game and two yards per carry.
"Their o-line's a little bit smaller than the previous ones we've played, so they should be a little bit faster," MSU junior noseguard Luke Artz said. "They try to get up to the second level a little bit faster, so we'll just have to plug up the gaps and wrap up and make tackles."
Laqua said he respects MSU's front seven and hopes his offense - which starts eight freshmen and three sophomores - can hold its own up front.
"With a group that's young, it's important that we're able to handle that box," he said. "We're playing a defense that's mature and strong in there, so we need to be able neutralize them if we're going to get any type of run game going."
Rudolph said the Beavers need to prepare for a plethora of screen passes. Dragons quarterback Jake Hodge tosses for 162 yards per game, and freshman wideout Adam Jiskra - a Grafton High School product - is his leading receiver at 61 yards per game.
"They do a pretty good job in the zone-read game with the quarterback and running back, and a lot of screens," Rudolph said. "A lot of every type of screen, a lot of screen-and-go, where if you overplay the screen they're gonna try and hit you deep."
MSU's offense is coming off a season-high 220 rushing yards against Minnesota, Crookston, including 109 by senior running back Blake Eggl. Rudolph hopes his team can duplicate that performance today.
"Our style of offense, what we like to do, you've gotta be able to run it a little bit," he said. "I think when the weather gets a little bit colder, the run game becomes more important."
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.