The Dickinson State football team is one win away from going undefeated in the North Star Athletic Association for the second straight year.
The winless Mayville State team is the only thing standing in the Blue Hawks way, and the two teams will square off on Saturday, Nov. 11.
"We're preparing for this like a playoff game," head coach Pete Stanton said. "We have to play well. We have to play at a high level. We have to do everything we can do to try to win this football game."
The Blue Hawks (8-1, 7-0 NSAA) accounted for one of the Comet's (0-10, 0-7 NSAA) losses already, downing them 52-7 on Sept. 23.
However, Mayville State is a different team than it was nearly two months ago.
Sophomore quarterback Creighton Pfau isn't on the projected roster for the Comets after getting hit against Dakota State last week.
Replacing him is freshman Nick Nelson, with sophomore running back Obie Wilder as backup quarterback.
Comets junior linebacker Preston Hamlette will take over the starting running back position.
"There's a little bit of uncertainty offensively with what we're going to see," Stanton said. "There's a chance they're going to have different people on offense than what we've seen before. We're not sure on that. We're not sure if game plan there will be a lot of changes."
The Dickinson State defense has been studying film and learning new blitzes to prepare for the regular season closer.
"We saw they got a new running back, but we're just prepared for anything they bring," senior defensive lineman Sifa Vea said. "They're winless this year so they're going to bring everything they've got. We're going to expect some trick plays, maybe some on side kicks. They just want to get one win."
Regardless of what they see, the Blue Hawks will be well rested, as they're coming off a bye week.
"It's been a good time and a good break for us, especially after playing Dakota State in such a big game and a physical game," Stanton said. "We had some time. We gave them three or four days off. If we would have had to come back and play somebody that Saturday right after Dakota State, we might have had four or five guys who might not have been able to play."
Senior receivers Dylan Skabo and Seth Ewoniuk are back to full health after cautiously playing through injuries the past few weeks, just in time for their senior game.
Thirteen Blue Hawks will be playing in their last home, regular-season game of their college careers.
"We have a bunch of good guys that came in here," senior guard Andrew Alt said. "We all slowly came here and worked our butts off. It doesn't matter if, like Sifa who transferred here or Steve Koch who's been here for four years, we don't look at each other any differently. We think of each other as the same."
The Blue Hawks will have to wait until Sunday, Nov. 12 to learn their playoff fate and opponent, but for now, they're concerned about Saturday.
"We just have to do what we've been doing," Stanton said. "We know they're going to play hard on defense and we're going to get a lot of different looks. We have to execute at a high level and make sure that we're doing what we need to get done."