The Pittsburg State Gorillas will battle the Wayne State Warriors on Saturday for the NCAA Division II Championship. This is first time these two schools will have played one another, and it's sure to be a great battle.
If you miss college football, this is a game worth checking out. Sure, there are few bowl games, but there's nothing better than watching two teams go head-to-head with the title on the line.
The Warriors have had an improbable run, reaching the title game despite being ranked No. 6 in their region, which is the lowest seed.
They've won four straight road games in the playoffs, and their confidence is sky high despite being underdogs. The Gorillas, on the other hand, were ranked No. 2 in their region and No. 7 in the nation.
Pittsburg State has history on its side, as its the winningest all-time NCAA Division II program. The Gorillas have outscored their postseason competition 121-61, which means the Warriors are in for a true test.
With that said, let's take a look at some specifics of this Division II Championship Game.
Who will win?
When: Saturday, Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. ET
Where: Braly Municipal Stadium, Florence, AL
Watch: ESPN 2, ESPN3.com
The line is currently off, but we will update when and if information becomes available
Wayne State Player To Watch
Jeremy Jones is a senior safety for the Warriors, and he was recently selected for the AFCA All-American team.
Jones led the team with 85 tackles and nine interceptions. In the second round of the playoffs, Jones recored three interceptions for a total of 144 yards, which set a school record.
The Warriors will need the ballhawk to deliver a fantastic performance on Saturday in order to slow down the mighty Gorillas.
Pittsburg State Player To Watch
Quarterback Zac Dickey will need to be on his A-game and avoid committing turnovers. The senior QB has carried the ball 194 times for a team-high 1,097 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He has also thrown for for 2,100 yards and 16 touchdowns. A poor showing from Dickey, and the Gorillas don't stand a chance.
Dickey is the heart and soul of the team, and this being his final game ever he'll make sure he puts the team on his back and keeps them competitive for all four quarters.
Keys to Wayne State Win
The Warriors have to find a way to slow down Dickey, or else they'll be in for a long night. Dickey has been on fire lately, and if Wayne State can't stop him, it won't be hoisting the trophy when it's all said and done.
Running backs Josh Renel and Toney Davis have both rushed for over 1,300 yards on the year for the Warriors, and they'll need to keep fighting hard to chew the clock.
The longer the Warriors have the ball, the better their chances are of winning the game. Keeping Dickey and the Gorrillias off the field will do wonders for Wayne State.
What will the total score be?
Keys to Pittsburg State Win
This game rests on the play of Dickey, as well as the offensive line. They've done a good job of blocking up front, and all they need is one more outstanding game to win it all.
The Gorillas defense must also find a way to create turnovers, which is something they've been very good at this season. Pittsburg State is tied for fourth in the country in turnovers gained with 37, and is also 17th in run defense, only allowing an average of 108 yards per game.
Another key is for the Gorillas run defense to prevent Renel and Davis from having monster performances.
Twice this year both running backs have recorded over 100 yards in a single game. Renel's highest total this season was 193 yards back in October, and Davis ran for 326 yards in the opening playoff game against St. Cloud.
The Gorillas defense sure has their hands full on Saturday, but if they can shut down both of these guys they'll win with ease. Of course, that's much easier said than done.
This should be a hard fought battle by both teams, coming down to which squad wants it more in the fourth quarter. The Gorillas haven't been tested too much these playoffs, and the Warriors will benefit from that because they've gained valuable experience on the road this postseason.
Unfortunately, the road ends here for Cinderella. The Gorillas' stingy defense will force turnovers, and that will be difference maker in Saturday's contest.
Pittsburg State 42, Wayne State 35