In what has almost become a perennial matchup in the Stagg Bowl, UW-Whitewater and Mount Union will battle for the NCAA Division III national football championship in Salem, Va., on Dec. 20.
These two will meet in the Stagg Bowl for the eighth time in the last nine seasons. The season they didn't meet for the championship was last year, when Mount Union took down St. Thomas to win the championship.
The Warhawks have won 19 straight postseason contests, including three straight Stagg Bowls over Mount Union prior to last season.
That streak brought the Raiders' dominance of this rivalry to a halt; Whitewater won three of the first four Stagg Bowls between these two programs.
Both of these teams arrive battle-tested after advancing with close wins in the semifinals. So, after a one-year hiatus, it is time to renew this impressive rivalry.
Location: Salem Football Stadium, Salem, Va.
Date: Friday, Dec. 20
Start Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV Broadcast: ESPNU
Can Vince Kehres Cap off His First Season as Coach with a Championship?
Mount Union coach Vince Kehres found huge shoes to fill as he stepped into the role of head coach. Of course, he was born to fill those shoes. Vince took over the reigns of this program after his father, Larry, retired.
Larry Kehres did alright for himself in his 27 years guiding the Raiders. He won 11 national titles and posted a record of 332-24-3. The younger Kehres has a long ways to go to catch his father's accomplishments, but he is off to a great start.
Mount Union rallies for 29th straight win, advances to Stagg Bowl (Division III championship) with 77th straight home win #d3fb— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 14, 2013
Mount Union is a perfect 14-0 this season, and Kehres and his team proved their fortitude in their semifinal.
Quarterback Kevin Burke threw a touchdown with just over a minute left in the game to help give the Raiders a 41-40 win over North Central.
All that is left now is to try to get the season's 15th win.
Prediction: UW-Whitewater 24, Mount Union 20
This is going to be an entertaining game, but the Warhawks have the edge due to their balance. This team can play effectively on both sides of the ball, and offensively it has the ability to focus exclusively on either the run or the pass with consistent success.
Warhawks quarterback Matt Behrendt summed up his team's recipe for success in this quote captured after the semifinal win by the Associated Press' Eric Drennan via NCAA.com:
We know that if we don't turn the ball over, there's a really good chance that we're going to win with the defense that we have. So I just have to go out there and make the right reads and make the right decisions and at the end of the day, we're going to be winners.
Jordan Ratliffe, a 209-pound sophomore running back, will wear out the Raiders defense, and Behrendt, who has just one interception in 432 attempts this season, will help seal the deal.