Nov. 25, 2009

By Amy Farnum

Montclair State at Mount Union, 12 p.m. ET

Top-ranked Mount Union (11-0) hosts Montclair State (10-1) as the Purple Raiders continue to vie for their 11thnational title.  This will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs. 

Mount Union, the defending NCAA champion, has played in 11 of the last 13 Stagg Bowls and began its 21stDivision III playoff appearance with a resounding 55-0 win over Washington & Jefferson in first round action last week.

The Red Hawks are making their ninth playoff appearance, and first since 2003, after winning the New Jersey Athletic Conference title.  Montclair State is 8-8 all-time following a 38-22 victory over Maine Maritime last week.

Mount Union has not allowed more than seven points in its last five games, while the Purple Raider offense is one of the best in the nation, scoring over 46 points and racking up over 500 yards of total offense per game. 

Albright at Delaware Valley College, 12 p.m. ET

In a rematch between Middle Atlantic Conference foes, Albright will try to avenge its Nov. 7 loss to the Aggies in a second-round NCAA playoff contest.

The Aggies set a school record with a 66-7 win over Susquehanna last week, while their 642 yards of total offense was the second-highest in program history. Delaware Valley defense’s was also stellar, holding the Crusaders to 186 total yards while forcing six turnovers.

Junior tailback Matt Cook became the school’s all-time leader in rushing TDs (31) after a pair of scores and 156 yards rushing against Susquehanna. 

Following a 35-25 defeat of Alfred, Albright is fresh off its first NCAA playoff victory since 1996. 

Mississippi College at Wesley, 12 p.m. ET

Wesley is 11-0 for the second time in school history since moving to Division III after a 55-23 drubbing of North Carolina Wesleyan for the Wolverines’ fifth straight NCAA first-round playoff win.

The Wolverines boast one of the top defenses in the nation as they rank fifth in scoring (11.36 ppg) and 11th in total (254.45 ypg).  They will face MC’s Steven Knight, who is averaging 118.73 rushing yards per game, which ranks 16th in Division III.  The Choctaws will test Wesley’s stout defense as they are posting almost 40 points per game.

Johns Hopkins at Thomas More, 12 p.m. ET

Thomas More looks to remain unbeaten as Johns Hopkins visits following the Blue Jays’ 23-7 victory over Hampden-Sydney – the first road win for a Centennial Conference team since 2000.  JHU was one of seven road teams to win their first-round game last weekend.

The Saints enter the contest with the second-best rushing defense in the nation, allowing just 51.82 yards per game, while the Blue Jays are also stingy with their ground game, giving up only 74.55 ypg.

Illinois Wesleyan at Wisconsin-Whitewater, 12 p.m. CT

Illinois Wesleyan survived a double-overtime battle against Wabash College at home last weekend, and the Titans will be rewarded with a trip to UW-Whitewater – a squad that has played in the national title game each of the last four years.

In the playoffs for the first time since 1996, the Titans bring Division III’s fourth-ranked squad in total defense (226.91 ypg) to Whitewater.  The Warhawks are ranked in the top four in both scoring offense (45.09 ppg) and defense (8.27 ppg). 

This will be the first meeting between Illinois Wesleyan and Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Wittenberg at Trine, 12 p.m. ET

Trine picked up its first NCAA Division III playoff win in school history by upsetting then-unbeaten Case Western last week with over 500 yards of total offense and five TD passes by quarterback Eric Watt in the victory.  It was the Thunder’s second playoff appearance.

Now, the Thunder is looking to knock off another undefeated team as they host Wittenberg – the top-ranked defense in both scoring (6.09 ppg) and total yards (165.64).  The Tigers gave up 14 points against Mount St. Joseph last week – the only team to score more than 10 points against Wittenberg this season.

The Tigers have played 28 times in the Division III playoffs since 1973, and are seeking their first trip to the regional final since 2001.  The two squads are meeting for the first time.

Coe at St. Thomas (Minn.), 12 p.m. CT

After traveling to Monmouth (Ill.) and bringing home a 43-21 victory, St. Thomas (Minn.) will host an NCAA playoff game for the first time since 1990.  The Tommies will welcome Coe College – both squads were at-large teams in the 32-team bracket and won first-round road games.  They each advanced to the second round for the second time in their histories. 

Coe’s sophomore quarterback Brad Boyle – the Iowa Conference MVP with 19 TD passes and 15 TD runs – injured his arm in the win against Saint John’s last week and is not expected to play against the Tommies. 

The Tommies are averaging 43.0 points per game during their current five-game winning streak, and is 9-1 at home under during head coach Glenn Caruso’s two years at the helm.

Mary Hardin-Baylor at Linfield, 12 p.m. PT

In a rematch of the 2004 NCAA Division III Championship game, Mary Hardin-Baylor will travel 2,289 miles to Linfield College in the second meeting in series history.  The Wildcats topped the Crusaders, 28-21, in the 2004 Stagg Bowl for the NCAA title.

Fresh off a 42-40 upset of Central (Iowa), UMHB looks to continue its four-game streak of scoring 42 points or more.  The Crusaders own a stellar ground attack on both sides of the ball, rushing for 331.27 ypg on offense (3rdin nation), while the defense is holding opponents to just 63.0 ypg (5th in nation).

Linfield enters the game with a 10-0 record and is 12-2 in its last 14 home games.  The Wildcats are putting up 41.7 points per game, which ranks sixth in Division III.

The squads both played and defeated Hardin-Simmons and the NAIA’s Southern Oregon this season.