The chase for perfection continues
Several unbeaten teams face tough tests this weekend
Who: Michigan State at No. 1 Illinois
When: 8 p.m. ET Saturday
Why: On paper, this seems like a cakewalk for the unbeaten Illini. After all, Illinois has won seven of the last eight matches over MSU, including three in a row, while owning a 43-22 advantage over the Spartans in the all-time series.
However, consider two things. First, when these two teams met a little more than a year ago, the Illini squeaked out a five-set thriller in East Lansing. Secondly, Michigan State head coach Cathy George will be appearing in her 800th career match as a collegiate head coach on Saturday, so you have to figure the Spartans may have a little extra motivation.
Incidentally, George boasts a record of 478-320, going 113-96 as a Spartan. During her time at MSU, the Spartans have appeared in the tournament in three of her six seasons, including an NCAA Regional Semi-final appearance in 2007.
Who: No. 18 Union Dutchmen at No. 1 Saint Lawrence Saints (DIII)
When: 4 p.m. ET Friday
Why: Led by goalkeeper Brian Abernethy, undefeated St. Lawrence has not allowed a goal in its last seven games and nine of its 11 matches this season. The undefeated Saints have challenges on consecutive days including Friday's matchup with No. 18 Union, which has only dropped one game this year.
If the Saints are to remain unbeaten, they'll have to figure out a way to stop junior Sebastiaan Jansen. Jansen has nine goals and eight assists for 26 points so far this season.
Who: No. 2 Mount Union at Heidelberg (DIII)
When: 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Why: You mean other than the fact it features one of the greatest nickname matchups in recent memory - the Purple Raiders against the Student Princes?
|Mount Union at Heidelberg|
Seriously, No. 2 Mount Union has been hardly tested this fall other than a 14-6 victory against Ohio Northern two weeks ago. The Purple Raider defense has allowed more than seven points only once in the first five games and has given up only three total touchdowns in the past four games. Saturday, the Purple Raiders head to Heidelberg for Homecoming. They'll face a Student Princes' squad that has won three consecutive games, including a 31-24 victory against Franklin & Marshall last week to take the Battle for the Conestoga Trophy.
Heidelberg moved back on campus for the first time in 64 years late in the 2009 season and this is Mount Union's first on campus visit since 1942 -- The Student Princes won that game 20-12.
The Student Princes have the OAC's No. 2 scoring offense, passing offense and total offense. Sophomore Germany Woods, an All-OAC second team pick a year ago, issecond in the OAC in rushing with 624 yds. (124.8 yds/game) with three touchdowns.Freshman Michael Mees is at quarterback and he has almost 1,100 yards passing with12 touchdowns to just three interceptions. His top targets are junior Mario Escalante (15rec., 310 yds., 1 TD) and senior CJ Powell (15 rec., 257 yds., 5 TD's).
Who: No. 1 Stanford at Arizona State
When: 10 p.m. ET Friday
Why: The Cardinal, 13-0-1 and looking to maintain its Pac-12 lead, travels to Tempe to face the Sun Devils.
Stanford holds an 8-3-3 lead in the all-time series, which began in 1997 with a 2-2 draw in Tempe. Stanford has won the past three - including 3-0 on the road last season - but has had its troubles in Tempe. Stanford all-time is 2-2-3 at ASU, but has won only one of their past five meetings there since 1999.
Stanford also comes into the match riding several streaks, including:
• 56-match regular-season unbeaten streak (last loss, 1-0 at UCLA, Oct. 31, 2008)
• 25-match Pac-12 winning streak (last loss, 1-0 at UCLA, Oct. 31, 2008)
• 25-match road (non-neutral) unbeaten streak (last loss, 1-0 at UCLA, Oct. 31, 2008)
• 14-match unbeaten streak (last loss, 1-0 vs. Notre Dame, Dec. 5, 2010)
• 13-match road Pac-12 winning streak (last loss, see above)
• 11-match winning streak (last non-win, 0-0 at Maryland, Aug. 26, 2011)
Who: No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul at No. 20 Minnesota State (DII)
When: 8 p.m. ET Friday
Why: The Golden Bears (19-0, 10-NSIC) have one of their toughest road trips of the season ahead of them as they travel to take on No. 20 Minnesota State (11-6, 4-5 NSIC). The Mavericks are one of two teams to take a set from the Golden Bears the season. Concordia swept SMSU earlier this season.
Make sure you keep an eye on Ashley Murtha. Murtha had career highs in kills and digs on Tuesday night as Concordia (19-0, 10-0 NSIC) swept Bemidji State (4-14, 1-9 NSIC). Murtha led the way with 15 kills and nine digs. Murtha also tied her career high in blocks with two. Incidentally, Murtha's brother Lydon plays for the Miami Dolphins.
The nation's top four teams -- Concordia-St. Paul, Tampa, Cal State-San Bernardino and Minnesota-Duluth -- are still unbeaten. If the top-ranked Golden Bears are to stay that way, they'll have to beat two top-20 teams this weekend.
Who: No. 18 Metro State at No. 1 Fort Lewis (DII)
When: 5:30 p.m. ET Friday
Why: The 12-0 Skyhawks got a bit of a scare on Wednesday night, as they needed a goal from Derek Freeman in the 63rd minute to squeak by 3-10-1 Colorado Mesa.
The Roadrunners (7-5) should provide a steep challenge of their own. What's more, they'll likely have a point to prove after dropping a heartbreaker to Regis on Wednesday. Metro State recovered from a hafltime deficit to take a second-half lead, but gave up two goals in the final 21 minutes to fall 3-2
Who: No. 2 Washington-St. Louis vs. No. 3 Emory (Rochester, N.Y.) (DIII)
When: 2 p.m. ET Sunday
Why: Not only is Washington-St. Louis unbeaten -- it hasn't dropped a set yet. Washington-St. Louis now has the Division III record for consecutive sets won. The Bears' streak now stands at 63 consecutive sets. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh established the previous Division III record of 57 consecutive sets during the 2007 season.
Emory is coming off just its second loss of the season. On Monday, the Eagles saw their school-record tying 23-match win streak come to an end when it came out on the short end of a 3-0 decision to Lee University. Last weekend, the Eagles swept through the Emory National Tournament with a 4-0 record, defeating Piedmont College and Ohio Northern on Friday before bettering Lynchburg College and Maryville on Saturday.
Who: Shippensburg at No. 3 Bloomsburg (DII)
When: 1 p.m. ET Saturday
Why: The 6-0 Huskies are coming off a dominant 45-10 win against PSAC East competitor Cheyney. In the win, head coach Danny Hale picked up his 200th career win and ranks fifth among active coaches for career wins in NCAA Division II football.
Franklyn Quiteh scored a career high four touchdowns in that win, three on the ground and another through the air. He also rushed for 61 yards, placing him eighth on Bloomsburg's all-time rushing list. Senior quarterback Pat Carey moved into eighth place on BU's all-time passing list after throwing for 145 yards and a touchdown.
Shippensburg has scored 208 points through the first six games of the season. This year’s Red Raiders are one of just five teams in school history to amass 200 or more points over the season's first half-dozen games. However, they aren't exactly doing it the easy way. They've run 491 plays this season, including 101 in a loss last Saturday against West Chester.
After being held without a sack in the season opener at Shepherd, Shippensburg has totaled 22 sacks in the last five games to rank second in the PSAC behind C.W. Post (27).
Who: No. 2 Abilene Christian at Incarnate Word (DII)
When: 7 p.m. ET Friday
Why: The Cardinals are responsible for the lone blemish on ACU's 11-0-1 record after playing to a 1-1 tie on Sept. 16. Abilene Christian's Andrea Carpenter leads Division II in game-winning goals with six. Carpenter's 11 goals also rank her eighth nationally and her 25 points are the 11th most among all DII players. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Elliott London, who was credited with her third and fourth shutouts of the season last week, ranks 10th with a 0.33 goals-against average and 14th with a 0.897 save percentage.
Game information compiled from and photos courtesy of respective athletic department websites.