November 3, 2016 by Daniel Appel
Football in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference has a different way of life than the rest of its surrounding sports. It features a short season with only nine games, few dominant teams, and no conference title game. 2016 has had other plans, one of which has pitted UNW and Eureka College in a fight for the UMAC title. The winner will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA DIII tournament, and the other prepares for next season.
Kirk Talley joined Double Overtime on the Remnant in preparation for the game, his interview with David Pederson and Marty Francisco can be heard here.
THIS WEEK- Eureka College Red Devils
The Eagles travel down to Eureka, Illinois to play the alma mater of our nation’s 40th president, Ronald Reagan. Reagan played football, ran track, and swam for the Red Devils when he attended the school.
While the Eagles luckily don’t have to line up across from Mr. Reagan, they do face off with a team that, defensively, looks eerily like themselves.
Red Devils’ Offense
Eureka doesn’t have a threating aerial assault, and it doesn’t matter much. They average 4.1 yards per carry and just under 200 per game. This doesn’t bode positively for UNW’s defense which as struggled at times against the run, giving up 198 to Greenville and an un-be-LIEVABLE 282 to MacMurray in their only loss of the season. Running back Leanthony Reasnover is just a sophomore, but has annihilated UMAC defenses all season as he surpassed the thousand yard mark and found paydirt 11 times. If the Eagles want to win they have to contain the ground attack.
Red Devils’ Defense
This is where the game could very well be decided. Northwestern has already beaten the best defense in the conference and moved the ball effectively against Scholastica. They’ll need a great all-around performance from Corban Halbur. He’ll be forced outside the pocket often and whether or not he can take advantage of scrambling opportunities will have a big effect on the outcome.
Eureka is predicated on a bend-but-don’t-break defense, allowed 281 yards per game yet only 15.2 points per game. The Eagles are traditionally a run-first team, but 2016 has a different look with a star-studded trio of wideouts in Carlson, Duerwachter, and Welch. This is also in part due to the fact that they’ve dealt with a mismatched line most of the season and that BJ Foster missed multiple games with injuries. 3.5 yards per carry and no where to run left Halbur with many opportunities to go downfield. The Eagles will live or die through his production.
- UNW has never been to the NCAA DIII Tournament, but would go with a win.
- The Eagles haven’t taken the UMAC outright since 2008
- The last meeting was a dominant 31-20 win for UNW
- The Red Devils and Eagles are ranked 1 and 2 defensively in the UMAC
This is the season of destiny for Northwestern.
They’ve already conquered their yearly demons in Scholastica and defeated a MIAC team in Augsburg. Eight years isn’t an eternity but it’s time for the Eagles to have a taste of the NCAA tourney.
Eureka College charges money to watch the game online but you can listen for FREE on the Remnant featuring Daniel Appel, Jonathon Bartsch, and Caleb Sowers. Pregame will have David Pederson and Mark Myers beginning at 11:30 with kickoff at noon.