The Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl also know as college football's Division III National Championship Game will feature the Mount Union Purple Raiders and the St. Thomas (Minn.) Tommies.
This year marks the first time since 2004 that Wisconsin-Whitewater will not be competing for the title. The usually dominant Warhawks failed to even make the playoffs this season.
The Mount Union Purple Raiders are best known for their production of several recent NFL-caliber receivers. Both Pierre Garcon (Washington Redskins) and Cecil Shorts III (Jacksonville Jaguars) played and excelled for the school before going on to successful NFL careers.
Though the Tommies haven't produced any notable NFL names that doesn't take away from what the school was able to do this season. And despite not making the championship game over the past three years, the team has quietly excelled.
That success has culminated with a perfect season and a chance at the school's first national championship.
When: Friday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Salem Stadium, Salem, Va.
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Betting Line (via SportBet)
Over/Under: OFF, Spread: Mount Union (-18)
Things haven't come as easily as the Purple Raiders would like. They barely scratched out a close win to get to the Stagg Bowl and will need to play their best in order to come away with the win. The Tommies play tough defense and like to run the football, which could slow things down and keep the game a lot closer than this spread.
It doesn't get any bigger than this in Division III college football. For the first time in the last seven seasons years, a team other than Mount Union or Wisconsin-Whitewater can walk out of Salem with the championship. Linfield was the last school to do it, beating Mary Hardin-Baylor 28-21 in 2004.
The Purple Raiders could add another trophy to their pile of recent achievements. Mount Union is 181-7 since 2000 and has won the national championship five times since then. It trails Notre Dame by one title for the most by an NCAA school. The Irish have won 11 total national championships.
Mount Union Player to Watch: Jasper "Junior" Collins, WR
The 6'0" senior wide receiver is destined for a huge game in the championship. His 2012 campaign was the type of performance that gets a receiver noticed by NFL draft scouts. He finished the season with 84 catches for 1,574 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Collins said he learned everything he knows about football, and life, from Cecil Shorts III, his former roommate and current Jacksonville Jaguars receiver, according to Jim Thomas of CantonRep.com.
St. Thomas Player to Watch: Brenton Braddock, RB
The Tommies aren't the most efficient passing team in Division III. They haven't had to be with players like Braddock running the football for them. They have run for 242 yards per game thrown for 222.9 per contest. Credit that to Braddock.
As a freshman, he began the season third on the depth chart but has had to step up due to injuries. The dynamic back hasn't shied away from the challenge. He's put up 1,159 yards and 16 TDs on 207 carries (5.4 YPC).
Prediction: Mount Union 42, St. Thomas 28
Mount Union is just too explosive and experienced for the Tommies. Their talent isn't restricted to just the offensive side of the ball, either. With a well-rounded attack, the Purple Raiders will come away with their 11th national title.
It will be close through three quarters, but the coaching and resolve of Mount Union will help bring the title back to North-Eastern Ohio.
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