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Wayne Cavadi | | September 14, 2018

A Northeast-10 battle in Connecticut and a SAC showdown highlight the Week 3 DII football showcase

One-handers take DII's Top Plays

The Week 3 DII football slate got underway with The Battle for the Bone, a long-time rivalry between Minnesota Duluth and St Cloud State that ended in a 41-17 Bulldogs rout. It was just a precursor for some big conference tilts ready to go down this weekend. 

The DII football showcase this week highlights two conference rivalries with plenty at stake. First, a Northeast-10 battle kicks off in Connecticut, followed by a South Atlantic Conference showdown with early postseason implications involved. Let's break down both matchups. 

MORE: AFCA Top 25 | 5 takeaways from the Week 2 poll

Southern Connecticut State at New Haven, 1:05 p.m. ET | WATCH ON FACEBOOK or TWITTER

It's the battle for the Elm City Trophy. The classic showdown between Southern Connecticut State and New Haven began at the DII level in 1981 on Halloween. Fittingly, that first matchup ended in a 28-28 tie, setting the table for the annual grudge match.

New Haven leads the series 22-6-1. There was a brief hiatus when New Haven dropped its football program but the Chargers have won every matchup but one since 2009. None of that matters Saturday. 

MORE: Take a look at the top 25 by the numbers

Both teams are even on the season, sitting at 1-1. New Haven has a big edge, already 1-0 in the conference. Both teams feature some potent offensive weapons, as the Owls' Eli Parks took home the first NE10 Offensive Player of the Week honors of 2018 while New Haven's AJee Patterson followed him in Week 2. 

Southern Connecticut relies heavily on its ground game with Parks leading the third-best rushing attack in the NE10. This will be an intriguing matchup, as New Haven has allowed just 94.5 yards per game on the ground this season. If the Chargers can mobilize Parks and let Patterson do his thing in leading the 11th-best pass offense in DII football, they should be in great shape.

This rivalry is taking it to the next level, as it will be available nationally on Cox TV (4 p.m. ET on a tape delay) as well as locally on WCTX MyTV9. Throw away the preseason predictions. Throw away the records. With the Elm City Trophy and bragging rights on the line, it's anyone's game for the taking. 

2018 outlook

Southern Connecticut State (1-1) New Haven (1-1)
2017 record: 5-5 2017 record: 6-4
Head coach: Tom Godek (5th year) Head coach: Chris Pincince (5th year)
Preseason ranking: NR | Current ranking: NR Preseason ranking: NR | Current ranking: NR

Key players (2018 stats):

Matt Sanzaro, QB: 385 total yards, 2 total TD

Eli Parks, RB: 262 yards, 4 TD

Jhaaron Wallace, LB: 18 tackles, 1 FF

Key players (2018 stats):

Ajee Patterson, QB: 629 yards, 5 TD

Ju'an Williams, WR: 311 yards, 1 TD

Jordan Francklin, LB: 18 tackles, 1 INT

2018 by the numbers

Southern Connecticut state New haven
Points: 28.5/ game Points: 33.5/ game
Pass yards: 147.5/ game            Pass yards: 314.5/ game                                             
Rush yards: 225.5/ game Rush yards: 126.5/ game
Total offense: 373.0 yards/ game Total offense: 441.0 yards/ game
Points allowed: 28.0/ game Points allowed: 25.5.0/ game
Total defense: 330.0 yards/game Total defense: 368.5.0 yards/game

Wingate at Carson-Newman, 7:05 p.m ET | WATCH LIVE

This is arguably the biggest game in the SAC this season. The Eagles entered the season ranked No. 22 in the AFCA poll and was the early pick to win the conference. They dropped the opener to then-No. 2 West Florida in the first DII football showcase of 2018, but bounced back, eking by Virginia Union. With 10 of 11 of the starters returning on one of the best defenses in the region, the pieces are in place for a deep run.

MORE: DII football players in the NFL

Standing in the Eagles' way is Wingate. The Bulldogs won the SAC last year and advanced to the DII football postseason. They were projected to finish second in the SAC in 2018 and have come out firing. Already 2-0, Wingate heads to Jefferson City, Tennessee in its first road test of the season.

Two of DII football's best running backs will be on display in this one. Carson-Newman's Antonio Wimbush is in top form after missing almost all of last season, tied for the fourth-most yards in DII. On the other side of the ball, Wingate's Domineke McNeill is 16th in DII with 237 yards on the ground. That could be the matchup to watch, as Carson-Newman's experienced rush defense may make quarterback Shaw Crocker win the game. He has one of the best receivers to throw to in All-American BJ Muckelvene (175 yards, 2 touchdowns).

While one loss doesn't necessarily make a season, the winner of this game will have the upper hand in the SAC. It may be early, but both teams know how important this game is.

2018 outlook

WIngate (2-0) carson-newman (1-1)
2017 record: 9-2 2017 record: 8-3
Head coach: Joe Reich (18th season) Head coach: Mike Turner (2nd season)
Preseason ranking: RV | Current ranking: RV Preseason ranking: No. 22 | Current ranking: RV

Key players (2018 stats):

Shaw Crocker, QB: 429 yards, 5 TD

Domineke McNeill, RB: 237 yards

Cardell Rawlings, DE: 12 tackles, 3.5 sack

Key players (2018 stats):

Antonio Wimbush, RB: 280 yards, 3 TD

Sherron Jackson, RB: 163 yards, 1 TD

Temoris Coats, LB:  11 tackles, 3 TFL

2018 by the numbers

Wingate Carson-Newman
Points: 31.5/ game Points: 21.0/ game
Pass yards: 221.5/ game            Pass yards: 44.0/ game                                             
Rush yards: 140.0/ game Rush yards: 327.0/ game
Total offense: 361.5 yards/ game Total offense: 371.0yards/ game
Points allowed: 6.5/ game Points allowed: 24.0/ game
Total defense: 210.0 yards/game Total defense: 343.0 yards/game

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