Ranked showdown between ranked GLIAC teams hits national stage
Wayne State (Mich.) has won four consecutive games for the second time in the past 10 contests following Saturday's 24-21 triumph against defending GLIAC Champion Hillsdale.
On Thursday, the Warriors will play the other conference school to advance to the Division II playoffs last year -- Saginaw Valley. The Cardinals lost in overtime at Minnesota-Duluth in the opening round of the postseason, while Wayne State won at UMD in the Super Region No. 3 championship game on its way to a berth in the national championship game.
The road team has won the past three meetings in this series. Three of the past four meetings have been decided by eight points or less, with Wayne State's 41-27 victory at SVSU on Oct. 30, 2010, the only non one-score contest recently.
Thursday's contest will be WSU's first non-Saturday game since Aug. 29, 2002, at Northern Iowa, as well as Wayne State's ninth road game in the past 11 matches.
Wayne State is 18th in this week's AFCA Division II Coaches Poll, while Saginaw Valley is No. 17. The Warriors were picked to finish second in the GLIAC North Division behind Grand Valley in the preseason coaches poll, while Saginaw Valley was tabbed for fourth in the eight-team North Division.
The Cardinals have won three consecutive games since a 29-27 setback at home to Findlay on Sept. 15.
Tim Hogue leads SVSU with 484 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Quarterback Jonathon Jennings is the second-leading rusher with 174 yards and one score on the ground. He has completed 150-of-241 passes for 1,923 yards and 17 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
Jeff Janis has 53 receptions for 907 yards (151.2 yards per game) with nine touchdowns. Four other players have at least 12 receptions each.
Grant Caserta leads the SVSU defense with 67 tackles (22-45). He also has five tackles for loss, two pass break-ups and an interception. Will Schwarz has a team-leading three-and-a-half sacks.
Wayne State has a 5-12-1 mark all-time at Wickes Stadium, with the 41-27 win in 2010 ending an eight-game losing skid in University Center by WSU (not including the 2005 forfeit by SVSU).