For the fifth straight year, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (14-0) will matchup with Mount Union College (14-0) in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl for the Division III Football Championship on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 11am ET/10am CST, on ESPN2.
UW-Whitewater's campus is located about an hour southwest of Milwaukee, while Mount Union is on the eastern side of Ohio in the city of Alliance.
The UWW Warhawks play in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), and the Mount Union Purple Raiders compete in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC).
Mount Union has been the superior team in D-III Football for years, and has proven it by winning a record 10 Stagg Bowls since its inception in 1973.
The Purple Raiders have appeared in 13 Bowls, starting with their first in 1993. They have won six titles since 2000, and have two three-peat championships.
UW-Whitewater is relatively new to the Stagg Bowl, but have now appeared in the last five, matching up with a familiar foe in Mount Union each time.
If you think the Yankees and Red Sox hate each other, what do these two schools think about each other? Five years in a row...really?
While UWW was victorious in 2007, Mount Union seems to own UWW, winning three of the last four years.
2005: Mount Union 35, UW-Whitewater 28
2006: Mount Union 35, UW-Whitewater 16
2007: UW-Whitewater 31, Mount Union 21
2008: Mount Union 31, UW-Whitewater 26
Let's break these two teams down.
*All player photos are from each school's athletic website.
Sept. 5: at Dickinson State (ND); W 38-3
Sept. 12: vs. Midland Lutheran College (Neb.); W 58-0
Sept. 26: vs. Univ. of Puget Sound; W 42-7
Oct. 3: vs. UW-Platteville; W 35-3
Oct. 10: vs. UW-Eau Claire; W 38-14
Oct. 17: at UW-Stout; W 38-3
Oct. 24: vs. UW-River Falls; W 38-14
Oct. 31: at UW-Stevens Point; W 41-12
Nov. 7: vs. UW-Oshkosh; W 40-7
Nov. 14: at UW-La Crosse; W 58-21
Nov. 21: vs. Lakeland College; W 70-7*
Nov. 28: vs. Illinois Wesleyan; W 45-7*
Dec. 5: vs. Wittenberg; W 31-13*
Dec. 12: vs. Linfield College; W 27-17*
The Warhawks' last loss was to Mount Union in the 2008 Stagg Bowl.
Sept. 5: at St. John Fisher (NY); W 52-10
Sept. 19: at Ohio Northern; W 30-10
Sept. 26: vs. Muskingum; W 45-14
Oct. 3: vs. Baldwin-Wallace; W 30-0
Oct. 10: at Capital; W 28-21
Oct. 17: at Heidelberg; W 44-14
Oct. 24: vs. Wilmington; W 56-0
Oct. 31: at John Carroll; W 56-7
Nov. 7: vs. Otterbein; W 58-7
Nov. 14: vs. Marietta; W 56-0
Nov. 21: vs. Washington & Jefferson; W 55-0*
Nov. 28: vs. Montclair State; W 62-14*
Dec. 5: vs. Albright; W 55-3*
Dec. 12: vs. Wesley; W 24-7
These two teams don't just beat their opponents, they destroy them.
The Purple Raiders' last loss was to the UWW Warhawks in the 2007 Stagg Bowl, and have won 29 straight games since.
Senior Jeff Donovan has completed 72.8 percent of his passes in 14 games this year, and averages just around 240 yards per game through the air.
Donovan is 243-for-334 for 3,359 yards, and has thrown just five interceptions to go along with his 27 touchdown passes.
He has equally threatening options alongside him, whether he hands the ball off to a back, or decides to air it out to one of his three receivers, who each average over 63 yards per game.
Senior Kurt Rocco has completed a little over 70 percent of his passes and averages 253 yards per game passing.
Rocco throws the ball a little less than Donovan, being 213-for-302, but has 3,546 yards with 39 touchdowns in 14 games, with only eight interceptions.
If you're looking for turnovers in this game, they certainly aren't going to come from the quarterback position.
Mount Union is slightly more of a passing team, as the following numbers will indicate.
Advantage: Even though Rocco has more TDs thrown, I'm giving the slight edge to UWW because I feel that Donovan has more weapons to work with.
The Warhawks' sophomore running back, Levell Coppage, (pictured) has recently been named D-III All-West Region Offensive Player of the Year.
Coppage has rushed for 1,996 yards on 288 carries (6.9 yards per carry) with 32 touchdowns. He now owns the school record with his 386 yard day, earlier in the season.
He averages 142.6 yards per game, but he is certainly not alone in UWW's backfield.
Junior Antwan Anderson carried the ball 111 times for 575 yards and nine touchdowns (5.2 yards per carry).
Fellow junior CJ Miller has only 73 carries for 441 yards, but has seven touchdowns and an even six yards per rush attempt.
The Warhawks will no doubt come out handing the ball off, seeing as it's their bread-and-butter this year.
Senior Terrance Morring (pictured) lead the Purple Raiders backfield with 223 carries for 1,091 yards and 15 touchdowns (4.9 yards per carry and 77.9 yards per game).
The numbers seem to make him less of a threat than Coppage and Co., but there's probably a reason that Mount Union has beaten UWW three out of the last four years.
Morring also has help from senior Scott Panchik, who has 727 yards and 13 touchdowns (5.3 yards per carry and 72.7 yards per game).
Senior Cecil Shorts III will also carry the ball out of the backfield for the Raiders, gaining 229 yards on 33 touches, and eight touchdowns.
Advantage: UWW, Coppage is one of the better D-III running backs in the entire nation.
Junior Aaron Rusch (pictured) leads the Warhawks receiving corps with 64 catches. He has 828 yards and seven touchdowns (63.7 yards per game).
Junior Adam Brandes has the most yards this season with 960 yards on 54 catches and eight touchdowns (67.2 yards per game).
Senior Jordan Wells is the third Warhawks receiver who averages over 63 yards per game at 73.8. Wells has 59 catches for 941 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Donovan will spread the ball to his receivers, making Mount Union think not only about the run, but the pass as well.
Shorts III (pictured) is the Raiders' leading receiver with 90 catches for 1,551 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is the clear favorite of Rocco with his Pierre Garcon-like numbers.
Rocco will also throw to senior Vince Petruziello, who has 53 catches for 847 yards and six touchdowns on the year.
Senior tight ends Kyle Miller and Judd Harrold have combined for just 34 catches, but also have 11 touchdowns between them.
The Warhawks better keep a close eye on Shorts III and the rest of the receivers, in hopes that Mount Union drives last longer than one or two plays through the air.
Advantage: Nobody, each team has a solid air attack.
The Warhawks look to have a balanced attack with Coppage and Anderson, along with Rusch, Wells (pictured), and Brandes.
UWW has scored 80 touchdowns during the season, racking up 3,292 yards rushing and another 3,585 yards passing.
Like I mentioned before, the Warhawks have three receivers who average around 65 yards receiving per game, and a pretty solid 1-2 punch out of the backfield.
The Warhawks average 235 rushing yards per game (5.7 yards per carry as a team) to go along with their 256 yards per game passing.
When you gain 491 yards of total offense every Saturday, it's no wonder you go a perfect 14-0 and land yourself in the championship game.
Mount Union has a decent 1-2 punch at running back, and a star at wide receiver, but Panchik (pictured) Petruziello, Miller, and Harrold provide the much needed help.
The Raiders have scored 91 touchdowns over the course of the season.
Mount Union averages 219 yards on the ground (3,071 yards total) and 285 through the air (3,985 yards total) racking up 504 yards of total offense every week.
The game next week certainly should not be short on yards gained for either side.
Advantage: Even, both teams can put up 500 yards a game, meaning we could see over 1,000 yards of total offense.
The Warhawks have a stifling defense led by senior Anthony White (pictured).
White has just 44 tackles, but has 12.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks, while fellow senior Lane Olson has 50.5 tackles, 10 for a loss and 4.5 sacks.
UWW allows 247 yards of total offense to its opponents (78 passing, 169 passing). It has a team total of 28 sacks and 82 tackles for a loss.
The Warhawks have 21 interceptions on the year, and have allowed their opponents to score a combined 17 touchdowns.
Mount Union has a knockout style defense, led by senior Joe Millings (pictured), who has 55 tackles, 18 for a loss and 10.5 sacks.
Fellow seniors dish out the blows on defense to help Millings, in Lambert Budzinski and James Herbert III.
Budzinski has 64 tackles, 12 for a loss, and 6.5 sacks. Herbert III has 60 tackles, 13.5 for a loss, and 9.5 sacks.
The Raiders allow just 47 yards on the ground to opponents and 147 in the air, meaning 194 total. Teams just can't seem to move the ball against Mount Union.
Mount Union has 28 interceptions, 49 sacks and 107 total tackles for a loss, and have given up just 14 total touchdowns.
Advantage: Mount Union, with more sacks, and tackles for loss. They seem to know how to push guys around.
The kickers are just as important at this level, because we are seeing more and more kickers missing PATs and close FGs.
Senior Jeff Schebler (pictured), like Copppage, is one of the better players at his position.
He has made 13 of 16 field goals, including three of four beyond 40 yards, with his long being 46 yards. He is also 78 of 80 on PATs
There aren't many field goals attempted at the D-III level, but you can count on Schebler knocking one down in crunch time.
Kris Rosholt is UWW's punter, averaging 37.2 yards on 38 punts, but has had none blocked all year.
Jay Carpenter is both Mount Union's place kicker and punter.
He is just six of seven on field goals, being three for three between 30 and 39 yards, with a long of only 37 yards.
Carpenter has 40 punts for an average of 39.1 yards with no kicks of any sort blocked all year.
Advantage: UWW, the punting game seems even, but Schebler has attempted slightly more FGs and can hit from around 50 yards if called upon.
The Warhawks have 330 first downs, while giving up 188 and just 1,099 yards on the ground to opponents.
UWW is 83 of 157 on third down conversions, and 13 of 15 on fourth down attempts. They allowed opponents to convert on just 63 of 198 third down attempts and 13 of 40 on fourth down.
The Warhawks average 42.8 points per game and give up just 9.1 to opponents, with an average margin of victory being 33.7 points.
The offensive line has protected Donovan to the tune of just nine sacks.
Mount Union has 344 first downs, while allowing 163 to opponents, and allowing just 656 yards on the ground.
The Raiders have converted 72 of 157 third down attempts, and 15 of 30 fourth downs. They allowed opponents to convert only 49 of 200 third down attempts and 13 of 30 fourth downs.
Mount Union scores an impressive 46.5 points per game and allows just a little over one touchdown per game at 7.6, resulting in a 38.9 margin of victory.
Their offensive line has given up 14 sacks to opponents all year.
Advantage: Mount Union, scoring over 45 points per game and allowing just a touchdown against each week.
First: Warhawks 139, opponents 7
Second: Warhawks 162, opponents 52
Third: Warhawks 158, opponents 15
Fourth: Warhawks 138, opponents 54
Total: Warhawks 599, opponents 128
If UWW wants an advantage, they need to stay true to their numbers and get a big first quarter.
First: Raiders 173, opponents 17
Second: Raiders 221, opponents 41
Third: Raiders 134, opponents 21
Fourth: Raiders 123, opponents 28
Total: Raiders 651, opponents 107
The reason for the lower number in the second half for the Raiders is that their games are well in hand by halftime. They've outscored their opponents by 543 points—that's domination.
Mount Union could get on UWW early and cruise to yet another Stagg Bowl title.
Lance Liepold is in his third year at the helm of the Warhawks and already has amassed a 41-3 overall record, including 20-1 in the WIAC.
The lone loss came to 'my' UW-Stevens Point Pointers at home, which I witnessed.
In three years under Liepold, UWW has won three WIAC titles, and of course, appeared in three Stagg Bowls, winning one.
Larry Kehres has been at Mount Union for 24 years, amassing a 289-21-3 overall record, including a 200-8-3 record in the OAC.
The Raiders have won 20 OAC titles, being the winners every year since 1992.
Kehres has been the D-III Coach of the Year 13 times, and is 61-10 in the playoffs.
Under Kehres, Mount Union has won six Stagg Bowls since 2000 and 12 since their first appearance in 1993, including two three-peats.
Advantage: Mount Union, Liepold's record is impressive, but Kehres has been equally impressive year after year for over 20 years.
Even after quite some thought, I still have no clue who is going to win this game.
This year, these two teams seem to be more equal to each other than they have been the past four years.
Both UWW and Mount Union can rack up the points quickly, but both can shut down their respective opponents as well.
The game, Saturday, should be the same as it has been the last four years, with either team needing about five touchdowns to win.
The offense should reign supreme for both sides, but as far as a winner, I still have no clue. The Homer in me says pick the Warhawks, but history tells me to go with the Raiders.
I can tell you one thing for certain however, if you tune into ESPN2 on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 11am ET/10am CST, you should see one Hell of a game played by guys that you probably have never heard of.
Ain't football grand?