When West Georgia junior defensive end Alex Armah lines up against a North Alabama offensive tackle a few minutes after the 2 p.m. ET kickoff Saturday at University Stadium in Carrollton, Ga., he will feel thankful.
It has nothing to do with who Armah squares off on the other side of the line of scrimmage. He knows whomever he battles will be difficult to handle. In the last decade, North Alabama has had its way with the Wolves, winning nine of the last 10, including 31-28 last year in Florence, Ala.
Armah is thankful to be able to participate in a football game that means so much to all involved.
“It shows you how blessed you are to be able to play in these types of games,” Armah said. “You have two, top 25 teams playing. You have a lot of respect for the program. You have to bring your A game every time you play them.”
The game Saturday is quite simply the most important one so far this season in the Gulf South Conference. West Georgia, ranked No. 2 in the AFCA top 25, is 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the GFC. North Alabama, ranked No. 13, is 5-1 and 3-0.
“We are really looking forward to this game,” Armah said. “It means a lot to us. We know it is going to be the main determining factor in winning the GSC.”
West Georgia entered this season determined to top what it achieved last season. The Wolves finished 12-3 and lost only 10-7 in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II playoffs to CSU-Pueblo, the eventual national champions.
Coming so close to playing for a national championship added motivation for West Georgia.
“I feel like we progressed a lot from last year,” Armah said. “We had a lot of guys return and the people who came in really bought into the program. We came together as a unit and it really shows on the field.
“We have a lot more depth this year so we know we will be able to make that run deep into the playoffs and know that the next guy is just as good as the first guy on the field.”
Armah, who is majoring in marketing and management, said he feels the support of West Georgia and the community on and off the field.
“They do a tremendous job,” he said. “They help you find internships. They have a really good business program at West Georgia.
“It is the whole community. We have a great school, a great environment. The city cares, backs us up and supports everything we do. Our success flows throughout the city and gets everyone involved.”
Series history: North Alabama leads 21-11
Last meeting: North Alabama won 31-28, Oct. 25, 2014 in Florence, Ala.
Total offense: North Alabama, 501.5;West Georgia, 434.6
Total defense: North Alabama, 337.5; West Georgia, 213.7
Points scored: North Alabama, 40.2; West Georgia, 42.7
Points allowed: North Alabama, 24.3; West Georgia, 13.7
Ferris State ready for another GLIAC battle
The way Ferris State senior wide receiver Jake Lampman sees it, the Bulldogs better be ready when they take on Michigan Tech 11:04 a.m. E.T. Saturday at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids, Mich. The game will be televised on the American Sports Network.
Michigan Tech, 5-1 and ranked No. 17, enters this road game coming off its first loss of the season.
“You can never overlook a team like Michigan Tech because they grind,” Lampman said. “They are well-coached. They have a great coaching staff up there. They prepare just as well as we do.
“They are like a Stanford. They have a lot of smart players and a lot of hard-working players and even when you think you might have them beat at one point, there is no doubt in our minds they are capable of rallying in the game. They are definitely capable of beating great teams.”
Ferris State, 6-0 and ranked No. 4, definitely has designs on being great this season. The Bulldogs are coming off an 11-1 season. They suffered their only loss in the second round of the playoffs.
“Right now we are exactly where we want to be,” Lampman said. “In our minds, we had a pretty slow start to the season, but the last two weeks we have come into our own and executing on both sides of the ball, which is huge for us.”
The Bulldogs have won all of their games by double-digits, but Lampman said the team wasn’t satisfied with the way it was playing earlier in the season.
“Throughout the whole season, it has been a good start, but we are just starting to get rolling and we are excited about that,” Lampman said. “It is late in the season and we haven’t played our best game, yet.”
The tough opponents Ferris State has faced so far in the GLIAC will help the Bulldogs later in the season.
“We love playing the best of the best,” Lampman said. “We consider ourselves one of the best teams in the country. We know what we are capable of. To be able to measure that against top ranked teams in the country, no matter if they were ranked earlier, we still know the skill level of the teams we play will never be subpar. We love having a tough schedule because it prepares us for postseason.”
Sioux Falls, South Dakota Showdown
Sioux Falls concluded its days playing in the NAIA on Dec. 18, 2010, falling by just three points in the NAIA national championship game.
Players from that Sioux Falls’ NAIA era wondered how they would do against Augustana and wanted a chance to play the Vikings. Both schools are in Sioux Falls.
The opportunity finally arrived in 2012 when Sioux Falls joined the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Sioux Falls won a thriller at home, beating Augustana 32-31 in double overtime.
Needless to say, a rivalry was born. The two teams will face each other at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday at Bob Young Field in Sioux Falls, S.D. in what is now called “The Key to the City Game.” The game will be televised on the American Sports Network.
Sioux Falls, ranked No. 5, is 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the NSIC South Division. Augustana is 5-2 and 2-1 in the NSIC South Division.
“It is a huge game,” said Sioux Falls junior defensive back John Tidwell. “I know for this program it means a whole lot because we were usually the underdogs going into this game because of our tradition of being NAIA.
“Everybody before us reaches out to a lot to us and tells us how big this game is and how they wished they got to play Augustana. They want us to play for them and come out with a victory.”
Sioux Falls is also playing for an opportunity to make the NCAA Division II playoffs. Last year the Cougars went 10-1 in the regular season, but didn’t advance to the playoffs.
“It is a big motivation for us,” Tidwell said. “We felt like we could have contended in the playoffs. We realize it wasn’t good enough to lose one game so this year we are hoping to go undefeated.”
Playing on television, Tidwell said, is a good opportunity for Sioux Falls.
“It is huge to be able to get our name out there and show everybody how much work we have been putting in and how much the coaches work with us and develop us to be the athletes that we are,” Tidwell said. “It is great to get our school recognized for that.”
Other games to watch
Assumption, 6-1, at American International, 3-4, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN3 telecast
No. 7 Colorado School of Mines, 7-0, at No. 6 CSU-Pueblo, 6-1, 2 p.m. MT
No. 10 Midwestern State, 7-0, at No. 11 Texas A&M-Commerce, 6-1, 3 p.m. CT