football-d3 flag | September 27, 2013

Top 10 Preview

Marietta at No. 1 Mount Union, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

Mount Union plays its first night game of the 2013 season hosting Marietta in an Ohio Athletic Conference matchup at Mount Union Stadium.

Mount Union (2-0, 1-0 OAC) opened OAC play last week with a 37-0 shutout at Muskingum. The Purple Raider defense held the Muskies to 22 yards rushing and 69 total yards and was led by Joshua Scott, who had a team-high six tackles and an interception. Mike Maier also had an interception and Trevor Smith forced a fumble that resulted in a safety. On offense, quarterback Kevin Burke ran for a game-high 82 yards and threw for 237 yards with three TD passes.

Marietta (0-2, 0-1 OAC) dropped its OAC opener 42-13 against Capital at home. Marietta was outscored 35-3 in the second half as Capital's triple-option attack had 370 yards rushing. Tim Connor had 114 yards on 20 carries and linebacker Jake Hammer had 20 tackles in the loss for the Pioneers.

This is the 52nd meeting between the teams with Mount Union holding a 42-8-1 lead in the series dating back to a 20-0 Mount Union win on Sept. 23, 1933 in Alliance. The teams have met every year since 1981 and Mount Union has won all 32 of those meetings. The last Pioneer win was a 20-6 decision in 1977 in Marietta.

Sul Ross State at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

Fresh off a dominating performance against the No. 5-ranked team in the country, Mary Hardin-Baylor will kick off American Southwest Conference play with another home game this Saturday. The Cru will host Sul Ross State in the first conference game played in Crusader Stadium.

UMHB is 3-0 overall following last Saturday's 35-7 victory against Wesley. The Lobos are 0-3 on the year following a 33-6 loss at Trinity (Texas) last Saturday in San Antonio. Sul Ross lost its first two games to Division II opponents and the Lobos will be playing their fourth consecutive road game to open the year. After the excitement of opening its new on-campus stadium with such a big victory last weekend, the Cru is looking to avoid a letdown this Saturday.

UMHB leads the all-time series with the Lobos 15-0 and only two of the meetings have been decided by less than 21 points. The Cru is in the midst of a four-game home stand at Crusader Stadium.

No. 3 Linfield at Case Western, Noon ET Saturday

Case Western looks to snap a two-game losing skid when it hosts No. 3 Linfield at Case Field. The Spartans dropped a last-second heartbreaker at Frostburg State 36-33. Representatives of the Northwest Conference, the Wildcats defeated then-No. 21 California Lutheran 52-14 and boast the nation's top-ranked offense.

Saturday's meeting will mark the first on the gridiron for Case Western Reserve and Linfield.

Through three games, Case Western has averaged 24.0 points, 136.3 yards rushing, 187.7 yards passing and 324.0 total yards per game. Case opponents have averaged 23.7 points, 189.7 yards rushing, 179.0 yards passing and 368.7 total yards per game.

Offensively for Linfield, senior QB Josh Yoder has completed 39 of 57 passes for 672 yards with six TDs and two INTs. Yoder, who ranks fourth in the nation in total offense per game, has also rushed for 109 yards on 18 carries (6.1 ypc) with two scores. Senior RB Josh Hill leads the team with 128 yards rushing on 27 carries (4.7 ypc) with three TDs. Junior WR Charlie Poppen has 10 receptions for a team-high 251 yards (25.1 ypc) with two TDs. Sophomore WR Brian Balsiger has a team-high 14 catches for 193 yards (13.8 ypc). Defensively, senior LB Dominique Forrest leads the team with 30 tackles and 3.5 TFL. Fellow senior LB Tim Edmonds has 15 tackles, including 2.5 for loss. Senior tackle Tyler Steele has registered five stops and the team's lone sack. Junior safety Jordan Giza has seven tackles and one interception.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point at No. 4 North Central (Ill.), 2 p.m. ET Saturday

Wisconsin-Stevens Point is 2-0 for the first time since 2008 after wins against Rockford and Dubuque to open the season. The last time the Pointers started 2-0 the team finished in a three-way tie for the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship and earned a playoff berth.

The Pointers take on North Central (Ill.), which ranks No. 4 in the nation after two early season wins against fellow WIAC foes Wisconsin-La Crosse (41-24) and Wisconsin-Stout (41-14). The Cardinals are 5-3 all-time against WIAC teams.

This is the first meeting between the Pointers and Cardinals.

Offensively, the Cardinals are led by dual-threat quarterback Spencer Stanek. The fifth-year senior is North Central’s leading rusher with 156 yards on 21 carries (7.4 avg.) and three touchdowns. As a team, the Cardinals average 304.0 yards rushing per game and 5.7 yards/rush with the carries split between Stanek and four running backs. The high-powered North Central rushing attack will be challenged by a UWSP defense that has yielded just 69 yards on 1.4 yards per carry this season. The Pointers have not allowed a rushing touchdown through two games.

No. 5 Hobart at Merchant Marine, 2 p.m. ET Saturday

Hobart will face a test this weekend as it travels south to take on Merchant Marine. The Mariners are 3-0 for the first time since 1997 after they defeated Maritime (N.Y.) last Saturday 7-6.

The matchup features two of the better defenses in the nation through the first three weeks of the season. Hobart sits at No. 50 allowing just 292.5 yards per game, while the Mariners sit at No. 38 with 285.7.

Leading the way for the Merchant Marine is quarterback Matthew McDaniels. He's only thrown for two touchdowns but he's reached the end zone six times on the ground and is the team's leading rusher with 568 yards in three games. McDaniels has fumbled four times, losing three of them.

Steven Webb has led Hobart's offense with five rushing touchdowns.

Waldorf at No. 7 Wisconsin-Whitewater, 2 p.m. ET Saturday

The Warhawks will take on an NAIA opponent for the first time since 2010 when Waldorf visits Whitewater. UW-W defeated Dakota State 70-7 in the most recent meeting with an NAIA team. Waldorf competes in the Midwest League of the Midstates Football Association and is 0-3 to start the season.

QB Matt Behrendt threw a career-high four touchdowns, including two in the first quarter, in last week’s win against Buffalo State. He led the hurry-up offense that put up 45 points in the first half. Behrendt accounted for more than half of the Warhawks’ offense last week with 203 through the air and 13 on the ground. He has spread the ball around finding 10 different receivers for 364 yards this season leading UW-W to a 2-0 record.

DB Marcus McLin provided the spark for Whitewater in Buffalo last week. He returned the opening kickoff 61-yards to give the Warhawk offense the ball on the Buffalo 29 yard line to start the game. Four plays later UW-W would find the end zone to take the early lead. McLin intercepted a pass near the end of the first quarter to bring the offense back on the field leading to another touchdown and extending the lead to 31-0. His defensive stats last week include two tackles, one for a loss of two yards, one interception and two passes broken up. 

No. 8 Bethel at Carleton, 2 p.m. ET Saturday

Saturday's matchup will be the 30th between Bethel and Carleton. Bethel leads the series 19-10 and has won the last four matchups including 52-14 in 2012.

Bethel head coach Steve Johnson won his 175th game last week against Buena Vista. Johnson is tied for eighth among Division III head coaches in career wins.

The Royals are 27th in the nation with 489.5 yards per game of offense, while Carleton has allowed 419.5 yards per game in its first two contests of the season.

Alma at No. 9 Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 1 p.m. ET Saturday

 Wisconsin-Oshkosh goes for its 15th consecutive regular-season win when it hosts Alma on Saturday.

In the first two games of the season, UW-Oshkosh fell behind early, made a momentum-changing play and pulled away for the victory. The Titans used big catches from Cory Wipperfurth to defeat Central 24-20. Against the defending NAIA champion, Marian, Ryan Stefaniak's second-quarter interception return for a touchdown led UW-Oshkosh to a 34-13 triumph.

Cole Myhra was a workhorse at Marian, rushing 29 times for 121 yards and two scores. He owns 178 yards for the year, while Wipperfurth tops the Titans with 140 yards on three receptions. Nick Olla has thrown for 504 yards and run for 69 in the first two contests. UW-Oshkosh's offensive line has been stellar, not allowing a sack in 48 pass attempts.

The Titans' dangerous pass rush has 10 sacks so far, including 2.5 by Dexter Charles and 1.5 by Stefaniak. UW-Oshkosh has given up just three points in the second half this year.

Last week, Alma suffered a close 21-20 loss to Lakeland. The Scots dropped their first two games of the season to No. 13 Heidelberg 52-7 and Illinois Wesleyan University 38-3.

Receiver Tyler Watters headlines the offense with seven catches for 82 yards and one touchdown. The running game is led by Grant Wilson (105 yards) and Robert Gibson (83). Quarterback Jarrett Leister owns 225 yards and two touchdowns through the air.

UW-Oshkosh was firing on all cylinders when these teams met during 2012. The Titans rushed for 374 yards and a WIAC-record eight touchdowns in their 70-9 victory. Olla, then playing wideout, paced the team with 51 receiving yards.

A pair of Titans have the chance to move up in the school record books this week. Myhra is one rushing touchdown from tying Nate Wara (23) for third place. Caleb Voss' next receiving touchdown will be his 20th, which ranks fifth in program history.

Wilmington (Ohio) at No. 10 Heidelberg, 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday

When Heidelberg and Wilmington take the field on Saturday, they will be meeting for the 14th time. Wilmington leads the series 8-5. Heidelberg has won five of the last six matchups between the programs. Wilmington defeated Heidelberg seven consecutive times upon joining the Ohio Athletic Conference. Throughout the series, Heidelberg has averaged 25.8 points per game, while Wilmington has averaged 24.2 points per contest.

Heidelberg junior quarterback Michael Mees has 19 wins in his career, the second-most among active quarterbacks in Division III. Only Jonny West, a senior at Franklin, has more wins (20). 

Wilmington senior quarterback Brandon Arehart has thrown for 588 yards on 42 of 78 passing, with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Jeremy Donoghue and Kyle Akers have been the main targets.