Southern Arkansas and Harding face off in the Division II Game of the Week
|Oct. 3||Harding at Southern Arkansas|
|Oct. 17||Findlay at Ohio Dominican|
|Oct. 31||Shippensburg at Bloomsburg|
|All games are scheduled at 8 p.m. ET|
MAGNOLIA, Ark. - The Southern Arkansas Muleriders and the Harding Bisons are set to hit the gridiron to renew their heated in-state rivalry with a special primetime nationally-televised game October 3 at 8 p.m. at Wilkins Stadium.
The game, which will be broadcasted to a national audience on the CBS Sports Network, and streamed live on NCAA.com, is a part of the NCAA's Division II Game of the Week lineup for 2013.
This year's matchup between the Muleriders (3-1, 3-1 GAC) and the Bisons (2-1, 2-1 GAC) has the potential to be a classic high-scoring shootout as both teams come into the game averaging over 490 yards of total offense per game and better than 41 points per game with the Bisons averaging 559.7 yards per game and 51.7 points per game. Despite both teams having prolific offenses, each goes about their business in different ways. The Bisons, who operate out of a triple-option wishbone offense, will enter Thursday night's game with the top-ranked rushing attack in the country as they average 397.0 yards rushing. On the year the Bisons have attempted just 32 passes as opposed to their 153 rushing attempts. When they have thrown the ball, however, it has been effective as they have thrown for 488 yards for a completion average of 30.5 yards per catch.
While Harding features a dominant dimension in their offense, Southern Arkansas relies on a more balanced approach. Through the first four games of the season, the Muleriders have thrown for more than 275 yards and rushed for more than 130 yards three times. Furthering the proof of their desire to be balanced on offense; of the 308 offensive plays run this season, 141 (46%) have been rushes and 167 (54%) have been passes. The balanced approach has resulted in the Muleriders having the 21st-ranked scoring offense and the 25th-ranked total offense in the country.
Although the offensive numbers suggest a high-scoring affair, each team's defense has proved that they can more than hold their own as well. Through the games played on September 28, 2013, the Muleriders rank in the top-30 nationally in Turnovers Gained (12; 9th), Passes Intercepted (7; 11th), Tackles for Loss (35; 23rd), and Turnover Margin (+4; 27th). The Mulerider defense has also not allowed team to throw for 300 yards all season, and they have held their opponents to less than 110 yards rushing in their last three games.
On the other end of the sideline, the Bisons' defense is limiting their opponents to 16.0 points per game and less than 300 yards of total offense on the season. In the passing game, the Bisons have allowed only 183.7 yards through the air, but they are even stingier in the running game, limiting their opponents to 108.7 yards on the ground. On the year, the Bisons' defense has forced four turnovers.
The game will be the 50th meeting all-time between the two schools. The Muleriders hold a 25-23-1 lead in the all-time series, but the Bisons have won 14 of the last 18 games, including the last seven matchups dating back to the 2006 season. This will be the 24th time that this rivalry game will be held in Magnolia and Harding holds a 12-11 all-time lead.