This time, its season will be on the line.

The Buccaneers, owners of a 5-4 overall record and a 3-4 mark in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, visit New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI), the nation’s third-ranked team, at 3 p.m. (CST) Saturday in a first-round conference playoff matchup at the Wool Bowl in Roswell, N.M.

“It’s a brand-new season,” sixth-year Buccaneers head coach Ryan Mahon said. “This game is the only one that matters to us right now because it realistically could be our last game of the year.”

NMMI (8-1, 6-1 SWJCFC), seeded first in the four-team tournament, plays host to fourth-seeded Blinn six weeks after edging the Buccaneers, 28-18, at Cub Stadium in Brenham. It was an impressive outing for the Blinn defense, which did its best to handcuff a Broncos team that averages almost 40 points per outing.

Mahon hopes his team’s familiarity with NMMI will pay dividends following a more than nine-hour drive to Roswell.

“They’re going to throw some new things at us offensively, but their defense is steady in what they’ve done all year long,” Mahon said. “That’s a positive for us, so let’s go out and fix the mistakes we made in the first game.”

In the first meeting between the two teams on Oct. 2, Blinn held an 8-7 lead in the second quarter before trailing 21-11 at the half. A late Joshua Berry rushing touchdown pulled the Buccaneers within 28-18 midway through the fourth quarter, but Blinn was unable to make up any more ground the rest of the way.

The Buccaneers out-gained NMMI in total yardage, 419-396.

Freshman defensive lineman Kaghen Roach believes the lessons learned by the Bucs in their first bout with the Broncos could turn the tide in their favor this weekend.

“We played them earlier in the season and didn’t have the outcome we wanted, so this week is about improving on what we lacked in that ballgame,” Roach said. “We need to come together as a team – offensively and defensively – and just make sure we’re getting better every day the way we need to. If we can fire on all four cylinders like we know we can, I think we’ll be OK.”

The winner of Saturday’s game will play the winner of the other semifinal game between second-seeded Kilgore College and third-seeded Tyler Junior College on Saturday, Nov. 20. Kilgore and Tyler face off at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Kilgore.

Saturday’s winners will advance to the SWJCFC championship, which will be hosted by the higher seed.

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 42 NJCAA national championships since 1987.