Dec. 18, 2008

By Amy Farnum Novin

Mount Union and the Wisconsin-Whitewater are certainly not strangers after tangling for the NCAA Division III title in each of the last three seasons. They will collide for the fourth straight year in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 20 at 11 a.m. in Salem, Va. 

After Mount Union claimed the 2005 and 2006 national titles, UW-Whitewater captured the NCAA Championship with a 31-21 win over the Purple Raiders last season.  The Purple Raiders, winners of nine NCAA championships, will be competing in their 12th Stagg Bowl.

The two schools will meet for the sixth time in series history Saturday with Mount Union leading 4-1.  In addition to the championship game meetings, the Purple Raiders topped UWW in two regular season games in 2002 and 2003.

NATE IS GREAT:  Mount Union senior running back Nate Kmic became the second Purple Raider player to be named to the AFCA All-America team for three straight seasons, joining Chuck Moore (1999-2001). 

Kmic is college football’s all-time leading rusher with 7,986 yards, and will have a chance to become the first player in college football history to reach the 8,000-yard mark in this weekend’s Stagg Bowl.  He ran for 310 yards in Mount Union’s win over Wheaton (Ill.) in the NCAA semifinals last week.

The native of Delta, Ohio, holds all-division records for most career touchdowns (129) and points (774), and has run for an NCAA Division III record 2,702 yards this season with 42 rushing touchdowns.

Only one player per school can be represented on the AFCA All-America team.  Considering the depth of talent on Mount Union’s squad, Kmic’s selection is extra special.  It is the ninth straight season that Mount Union has had a player chosen to the team, surpassing Emory & Henry’s previous mark of eight consecutive years.

ON THE WARPATH:  Almost every football coach has repeatedly said that defense wins championships, and for UW-Whitewater last year, it was a huge factor.  The Warhawks held Mount Union to a season-low 21 points in last year’s championship game – the fewest points the Purple Raiders have scored since Oct. 21, 2006. 

UW-Whitewater is again counting on that defense as the Warhawks have allowed just 12.2 points per game, which ranks third in the nation.  Senior linebacker Jace Rindahl has played a crucial role on the defensive unit, posting 98 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, and six passes broken up and leading the Warhawks with five interceptions.  The native of Cambridge, Wis., was named to the AFCA All-America team for his efforts.

COLLECTING HARDWARE:  Mount Union senior quarterback Greg Micheli has already been named the winner of the 2008 Gagliardi Trophy given annually to the top all-around football player in Division III, and on the night of Dec. 18, he will receive the trophy in Salem, Va.

Micheli is the fifth Mount Union player to win the award.  He is the nation’s top-rated passer with a 208.8 pass efficiency rating, and has thrown for 3,481 yards and 34 touchdowns with only two interceptions.  He is the highest-rated passer in college football history with a career rating of 197.0, and boasts a 3.84 grade point average in Physics and Math. 

The trophy is named for Saint John’s University head football coach John Gagliardi, the first active head coach to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (Class of 2006), and the winningest coach in college football history with a record of 461-125-11 (.781).