DCTF Game of the Week: No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor at No. 6 Wisconsin-Whitewater

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No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor at No. 6 Wisconsin-Whitewater

When: Noon Saturday at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater, Wis.

Broadcast: WIAC Network

The Matchup: The schedule during the first two weeks this year is easily the best to begin a season since I started covering sub-FBS schools for DCTF five years ago. There are three games on this week’s schedule deserving of being Game of the Week.

But this honor is reserved for the reigning national champions Mary Hardin-Baylor, who had an argument for GOTW last week against No. 11 Muhlenberg. The Cru dominated the Mules in a 62-13 victory setting up a rematch of last year’s DIII semifinals.

UW-Whitewater also started the season against a formidable opponent and lost 24-10 to No. 4 St. John’s. Does the Warhawks loss diminish the shine on this game? Not in the least. UW-Whitewater is actively campaigning to fill Perkins Stadium to its 13,500 capacity. The size of the crowd will not be new for the Warhawks after 12,462 fans witnessed their Week 1 game.

While playing in front of big crowds is nothing new for UMHB, 13,500 primarily hostile fans will be quite a change from the announced attendance of 2,519 in the Crusaders visit to Whitewater last season.

UMHB coach Larry Harmon is not taking the Warhawks lightly this week and stated the importance of this game during his weekly press conference.

“We have to go into the lion’s den and face a tremendous Whitewater team that probably feels like they didn’t play very well last Saturday, and they have a lot to prove,” Harmon said, according to True To The Cru’s Riley Zayas. “They played a national championship game last week and we just played a playoff game. We got our work cut out for us this week.”

The Cru was dominant last week, gaining 295 rushing yards and 674 total yards against a quality opponent. However, the Warhawks are a different level of competition for UMHB and own a 6-2 record against the Cru, including a 26-7 win in the 2019 DIII quarterfinals. This game has all the makings of an instant classic.

X-Factors: The key to defeating UMHB begins and ends in the trenches. Every Cru loss in recent years has had one constant theme, the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage.

Neither team dominated the line of scrimmage last year, and UMHB quarterback Kyle King took advantage of man coverage to the tune of 309 passing yards. Both teams averaged two yards per rush attempt in last year’s semifinals and will focus on improving that stat in this game.

The Cru defense is young and has multiple new faces that were not starters last year. Granted, Muhlenberg is a quality opponent, but the UMHB defense allowing 4.6 yards per rush attempt last week is concerning. 

If the UMHB defense can continually force the Warhawks to need five or more yards on third down to extend a drive, then the Cru will have the advantage and show they can hang against one of the biggest offensive lines in the country.

Prediction: UMHB was very impressive in Week 1, but I have concerns about the Cru heading into this week. UW-Whitewater will not only seek to avenge last year’s playoff loss but also have extra motivation this week after losing to St. John’s. 

There are only three or four teams in NCAA Division III capable of beating UMHB this year, and the Warhawks are one of the teams on the list. Just not this week.

UMHB by 6

Best of the Rest:

Saturday, Sept. 10

Prairie View A&M at Abilene Christian, 7 p.m., ESPN+

No. 6 Angelo State at No. 12 Colorado School of Mines, Noon, RMAC Network

No. 8 Wheaton at No. 9 Trinity, 6 p.m., Tiger Network YouTube

Other Small College Games:

Saturday, Sept. 10

NCAA FCS

No. 9 UIW at Nevada, 2:30 p.m., Mountain West Network

Texas A&M-Commerce at Tennessee Tech, 6 p.m., ESPN+

Lindenwood at Houston Baptist, 6 p.m., ESPN3

Lamar at SMU, 6 p.m., ESPN+

Northern Arizona at Sam Houston, 6 p.m., ESPN+

No. 12 Stephen F. Austin at Louisiana Tech, 6 p.m., ESPN3

Texas Southern at North Texas, 6:30 p.m., ESPN3

Tarleton at TCU, 7 p.m., ESPN+

NCAA DII

Western Colorado at UTPB, 6 p.m., LSC Network

Midwestern State at Eastern New Mexico, 7 p.m., LSC Network

Sul Ross at Texas A&M-Kingsville, 7 p.m., LSC Network

No. 23 West Texas A&M at Adams State, 7 p.m., RMAC Network

NCAA DIII

Rhodes at Austin College, 1 p.m., College TV Ticket

Millsaps at McMurry, 1 p.m., McMurrySports.com

George Fox at Howard Payne, 7 p.m., HPUSports.com

Southwestern at Belhaven, 7 p.m., Blazers.Belhaven.edu

NAIA

Lyon at Wayland Baptist, 11 a.m., WBUAthletics.com

Langston at Texas College, 2 p.m., TexasCollegeTV YouTube

SAGU at No. 10 Ottawa (Ariz.), 6 p.m., GSAC Sports Network

Oklahoma Panhandle State at Texas Wesleyan, 7 p.m., RamSports.net

NJCAA

No. 6 Kilgore at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, 1 p.m., NJCAATV

Navarro at No. 1 New Mexico Military Institute, 5 p.m., ESPN+

Cisco at No. 15 Blinn, 7 p.m., Blinn College Athletics YouTube

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