football-d3 flag | September 20, 2013

Top 10 Preview

No. 1 Mount Union at Muskingum, 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Mount Union returns after a bye week to open up Ohio Athletic Conference play against Muskingum Saturday at McGonagha Stadium in New Concord.

The Raiders were picked in the OAC coaches and media preseaon polls to win the confernce title in 2013. The Raiders have won 24 conference titles overall including the last 21 in a row.

Two weeks ago, Mount Union opened its season with a 30-27 win against No. 19 Franklin (Ind.). Quarterback Kevin Burke engineered a 79-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Mason Minnich with just under five minutes to play and the defense held for the Raiders 26th consecutive season opening win. Burke threw for 266 yards and was the leading rusher with 72 yards, Jack Nicholls caught two touchdown passes as he had a career 109 yards receiving to pace the offense while Ted Rosalva had five tackles and 2.0 sacks to lead the defense.

Muskingum was a victim of a last minute rally two weeks ago as Waynesburg scored with 22 seconds left to beat the Muskies 22-17. Muskingum quarterback C.J. Snider had 157 yards passing and 141 yards rushing while James Washington had 122 yards receiving and Alex Adams and Chaney Fulton each had seven tackles on defense.

This is the 68th meeting between the teams with Mount Union holding a 36-29-2 lead in the series that dates back to a 23-0 Muskingum win on Nov. 3, 1906. The Raiders have won 24 consecutive meetings since a 17-17 tie in 1988 in Alliance. The last Muskie win in the series came in a 24-19 victory in 1984 in Alliance.

St. John's (Minn.) at No. 2 St. Thomas (Minn.), 2 p.m. ET Saturday

No. 2 St. Thomas (2-0) returns home to face archrival St. John’s (2-0) in the opening weekend of the MIAC season.

Both teams come in 2-0, both with victories against Wisconsin-River Falls and Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The Tommies topped Eau Claire 52-7 and outlasted River Falls 25-7. St. John’s posted 17-14 wins against each opponent.

The average attendance of the last six Tommie-Johnnie matchups has been 12,000-plus. With unbeaten teams and an excellent weather forecast, UST’s stadium attendance record of 10,420 (set for 2011 SJU game) could be pushed. But it's anticipated that no fans will be turned away, with 5,000 permanent seats, plus portable bleachers brought in for the game with room for 4,500 to the north and south end zones, plus some standing room areas.

St. John’s is slated to start 11 seniors, including seven on offense. St. Thomas starts nine seniors, six on defense.

The Tommies have shown impressive balance in their 2-0 start. UST’s 10 touchdowns have come from nine different players; 14 different Toms have caught passes; and nine different defenders have contributed to UST’s 11 sacks.

The battle for the Holy Grail tophy has been played in Collegeville (2009, 2010 and 2012) three of the last four years. The last time this game was played in St. Paul, a crowd of 10,420 broke a 29-year-old stadium record (8,541 -- set in 1982).

This marks the 82nd all-time football meeting between the schools, and 62nd consecutive season the teams will play. This game comes 112 years after their initial clash, on Thanksgiving Day, 1901, at St. Paul's Lexington Park. The Johnnies lead the all-time series 49-31-1.

SJU will attempt to halt a three-game losing streak to the Tommies. On the flip side, St. Thomas will attempt to make it four consecutive wins against the Johnnies, a feat last accomplished by the Purple from 1954-57.

No. 22 Cal Lutheran at No. 3 Linfield, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Cal Lutheran hits the road for the first time in 2013 when it travels to McMinnville, Ore. to renew its rivalry with Linfield. Saturday’s meeting will be the eighth time the teams will have met with Linfield holding a 5-1 advantage in the past four seasons. The two teams have become frequent foes of late, matching up each of the last three regular seasons and three other times in the first round of the Division III playoffs. Linfield won last season's meeting 33-30 behind a field goal with less than a minute to play.

The Wildcats are coming off a 71-21 drubbing of Hardin-Simmons last Saturday.

QB Josh Yoder had a huge day, in addition to wide receiver Reed Peterson who caught four passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns.

Josh Hill, who suffered a season-ending injury a week after the CLU game last season, returned against HSU and rushed 12 times for 59 yards and two scores.

On defense, Linfield will be led by the reigning All-American and West Region Defensive Player of the Year in linebacker Dom Forrest. Against HSU, Forrest collected 15 total tackles including two for loss.

No. 5 Wesley at No. 4 Mary Hardin-Baylor, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

Mary Hardin-Baylor football team waited 15 seasons to play its first on-campus home game, now the Cru finally gets that chance when Crusader Stadium opens with Saturday's non-conference showdown with Wesley. The state-of-the-art facility was designed by nationally-renowned architectural firm Populous and has a seating capacity of 8,766 with overflow capability of holding 10,266 spectators.

UMHB played its home games at nearby Tiger Field on the campus of Belton High School and the Cru posted a 78-12 record on its home field through the first 15 years of the program. Now, UMHB has a stadium of its own to call home, creating an unprecedented buzz on campus and in the community.

The game itself will be a top five battle with UMHB coming in 2-0 overall and ranked fourth in the country by Wesley is also 2-0 on the year and ranked fifth nationally by The two teams will be meeting for the ninth time overall with the all-time series tied 4-4. The Cru swept two meetings from the Wolverines last season, including a 32-20 home win in the quarterfinals of the Division III playoffs. The two teams have met in the postseason seven times.

Wisconsin-Stout at No. 6 North Central (Ill.), 2 p.m. ET Saturday

Wisconsin-Stout will take its unbeaten record and undoubtedly face their toughest opponent to this point of the season when they travel to Naperville, Ill, to face sixth-ranked North Central (Ill.). The Cardinals are coming off a 41-24 win at Wisconsin-La Crosse last Saturday. The Blue Devils have beaten two NAIA opponents, defeating Dakota Wesleyan 35-20 in the season opener and downing Jamestown 13-7 Saturday. Stout and North Central met last year in Menomonie for the first time, with North Central coming out on top. The Cardinals last year advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament and are predicted to win their eighth consecutive conference championship.

North Central defeated the Blue Devils 37-10 last year when the Blue Devils were unable to get anything going on offense. Despite forcing three turnovers in Cardinal territory, an interception, missed field goal, and a fumble erased any chance Stout had. North Central outgained the Blue Devils 164-9 on the ground and 246-178 through the air. North Central also forced four Stout turnovers. Cardinal kicker Nick Dace hit three field goals of 40+ yards in the game, connecting from 41, 53, and 55 yards.

North Central boasts a roster that includes 21 seniors this year, including key starters on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Spencer Stanek, who led the conference in passing yards a year ago, came out strong in the Cardinal's season opener, throwing for 330 yards and rushing for 106 more. With two games under their belt, the Blue Devils have shown an ability to move the ball well on offense, averaging 444 yards of total offense. Running backs Tanner Kuehn and Adolfo Pacheco have been leading the way on the ground, with 110 and 111 rushing yards, respectively.

No. 7 Bethel at Buena Vista, 2 p.m. ET Saturday

Buena Vista will wrap up arguably one of the toughest non-conference schedules in Division III this Saturday, when the Beavers entertain No. 7 Bethel.

BVU is coming off a hard-fought 21-13 loss to Concordia-Moorhead this past Saturday in its home opener. Despite leaving a few missed opportunities on the field early on in the contest, the team still had the chance to rally for a potential game-tying touchdown drive, but fell short after getting the ball inside of Cobber territory during the final minutes.

The Beavers, who outgained Concordia in the contest, put up 398 yards of total offense against the Cobbers, including 266 through the air. They will need another performance like that offensively against a Royals team that knocked off Wartburg 30-17 in their season-opener last week.

Quarterback Bobby Brown matched his career-high by completing 20 passes and is now 34-of-65 on the year for 408 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He's also been mobile with his legs, rushing for an additional 48 yards on the year.  His 228.0 yards of total offense per game currently ranks third among all players in the Iowa Conference.

Brandon Marquardt led Bethel in its opener with two rushing touchdowns.

These two teams square-off in Storm Lake for the first time since the 2007 season-opener when BVU held off a late Bethel rally for a 21-16 triumph.

Utica at No. 8 Hobart, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

Utica will hit the road for the first time this season on Saturday when the Pioneers travel to No. 8 Hobart to take on the Statesmen in their final non-conference game of the regular season. The Pioneers are in search of a 3-0 start for just the second time in program-history.

The last time the two teams met, Hobart racked up 502 yards of total offense and scored 14 fourth quarter points, as it pulled away from host Utica, to earn a 45-26 victory in a battle of undefeated teams at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium on Sept. 15, 2012.

Hobart posted a 30-7 victory against Dickinson in Carlisle, Pa., to open the 2013 season. The win came behind a career day for senior running back Steven Webb and a dominating defensive performance. Webb ran for a career-high 203 yards and three touchdowns while the Statesmen D limited the Red Devils to just 204 yards of total offense. Hobart accumulated 470 yards of total offense, including 343 on the ground.

No. 9 Wisconsin-Platteville at Lewis & Clark, 4:30 p.m. ET

 Wisconsin-Platteville travels to Portland, Ore. to take on Northwest Conference foe Lewis & Clark on Saturday. This is the first time the Pioneers will play outside of the Midwest since 2004 when they traveled to Thiel (Pa.). The Pioneers trip marks the furthest west UW-Platteville has played since 1970 when they played Texas A&I (Texas A&M-Kingsville) in the 1970 NAIA Playoffs.

The Pioneers defeated Dubuque on the road last weekend, while Lewis & Clark is off to an 0-2 start.

UW-Platteville had more rushing yards (273) than passing yards (245) against Buena Vista on Sept. 7 for the first time since Sept. 10, 2011 at UW-Stevens Point when UW-Platteville rushed for 161 and passed for 157 yards.

The Pioneers rank in the top-55 in five offensive categories in all of Division III -- 28th in total offense (511.0 ypg), 30th in third-down conversion (52.2-percent), 36th in scoring (40 ppg), 38th in rushing (232.5 ypg) and 55th in passing (256.5 ypg).

No. 10 Wisconsin-Oshkosh