Nov. 6, 2009

By Amy Farnum

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE: No. 18 Albright travels to No. 24 Delaware Valley College in a match-up on Nov. 7 of unbeaten teams that could decide the Middle Athletic Conference championship, and automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs. 

Last season, Delaware Valley came away with a 39-7 victory over the Lions.  The Aggies, Albright and Lycoming shared the MAC title last year.

Both squads will enter the contest with 5-0 MAC records, while the Lions look to improve their winning streak to nine games for the first time since 1996.  Albright is vying for a share of its second straight league title - the last time the Lions achieved the feat of back-to-back championships was in the 1959 and 1960 seasons.

THUNDER CLASH: No. 11 Wheaton (Ill.) travels to No. 23 Illinois Wesleyan on Nov. 7 for a College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin battle between two of the league's three squads tied for first place.

IWU cracked the latest AFCA Division III Top 25 after upsetting then-No. 9 North Central, 28-22, in overtime last weekend.  The three teams have identical 4-1 CCIW records heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.

Illinois Wesleyan senior quarterback Kraig Ladd returned to the gridiron after missing two weeks with a broken hand to lead IWU in the North Central victory. He completed 23-of-48 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner to Michael Sloboda from 10 yards out in overtime, earning CCIW Player of the Week honors.

The Titans also boast the top defense in the league, and nationally rank seventh in total defense (225.5 ypg) and 12th in scoring defense (12.75 ppg). 

TOMMIE TALK:  No. 13 St. Thomas looks to remain in contention for an NCAA playoff spot as the Tommies travel to Bethel for a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest on Nov. 7.

St. Thomas has started a season 7-1 for just the second in the last 13 years, and currently sits at second place in the MIAC standings at 6-1.  The Tommies are looking for their first NCAA playoff bid in 19 years.

The Tommies field the nation's ninth-ranked scoring offense (40.88 ppg) and 15th ranked rushing offense (246.38 ypg), but Bethel offers a stout defense that has totaled 26 sacks and 17 interceptions on the year.  UST's offensive line has given up just two sacks during the entire season.

PURPLE HAZE: Top-ranked Mount Union can clinch its 18th straight Ohio Athletic Conference title with a victory over No. 15 Otterbein when it hosts the Cardinals on Nov. 7. 

The Purple Raiders rank in the top five in both total offense and total defense, and are led by quarterback Kurt Rocco, who paces the nation in passing efficiency with a 205.68 rating. 

Otterbein suffered its first setback of the season with a 25-22 loss to Marietta last weekend, despite Colton Coy running for his sixth 100-yard game of the season.  The Cardinals lost starting quarterback Austin Schlosser after the first quarter and sophomore Kyle Stoughton finished the game and will make his first career start at signal-caller this week.

DUTCH TREAT:  No. 5 Central College looks for a flawless finish to the regular season as the Dutch tangles with Iowa Conference rival Wartburg College on Nov. 7.

Wartburg, the defending league champion, was the preseason favorite but is 4-2 in league play entering the Central contest.  Central is 9-0 and 7-0 in the IIAC following a 17-0 win over Buena Vista last weekend.

Central has also secured an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs, and will be making their 20th postseason appearance.  The Dutch have clinched at least a share of the league title for the fourth time in the past five years.