Friday, October 27, 2023

D2 Rivalry Renewal the Star in Saturday Gridiron Action

RENEW THE RIVALRY: Lenoir-Rhyne and Wingate Set for Epic Showdown

As the fall season ushers in a crisp chill to the air, the stage is set for a classic showdown in college football. On Saturday, the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears and the Wingate Bulldogs will renew their age-old rivalry in a game that promises high stakes and gridiron drama. For most seasons, Lenoir-Rhyne and Wingate meet at the end of the season with much on the line, and this year's matchup is no different. With a win on Saturday, the Bears can secure a spot in the SAC (South Atlantic Conference) Championship Game on November 11 and earn at least a share of the Piedmont Division championship for the second consecutive season. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, still have a chance to grab a share of the Piedmont Division title, but they need a win against Lenoir-Rhyne to keep their hopes alive. Wingate is looking to play spoiler and replicate last year's upset when they defeated Lenoir-Rhyne 24-21 in Hickory. On October 29, 2022, Shaw Crocker connected with Trevor Grant for a 10-yard touchdown with 4:29 left, sealing the game with a game-clinching score.

In what promises to be a defensive battle, both teams boast two of the top defenses in Division II football. Lenoir-Rhyne enters the game with the nation's second-ranked scoring defense, allowing a mere 8.5 points per game, with almost every opponent being held to 10 points or fewer. Wingate's defense is equally formidable, conceding just 13.6 points per game, earning them the seventh spot in Division II rankings. In terms of yardage, Wingate allows 256.5 yards per game, ranking 14th nationally, while Lenoir-Rhyne is just as impressive, allowing 207.6 yards per game, placing them fourth. National recognition has also come Lenoir-Rhyne's way, as they are currently ranked at No. 7 in both the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) national poll and the poll. This marks the 34th time in the NCAA era that the Bears have earned a top-10 ranking. The Bears boast an impressive 55-12 record when playing as a nationally ranked team, with a 25-6 record on the road as a ranked squad.

The Lenoir-Rhyne-Wingate rivalry extends back over a decade, with both teams being consistent powerhouses in the South Atlantic Conference. Since 2010, these two institutions have dominated in overall wins, SAC wins, NCAA appearances, NCAA wins, and Jacobs Blocking Trophy winners. Furthermore, they have excelled in producing academic All-Americans. Lenoir-Rhyne holds 105 overall wins since the 2010 season, while Wingate has secured 97. In SAC play, the Bears lead with 75 victories, while the Bulldogs have 64. Lenoir-Rhyne has made six NCAA playoff appearances with eight wins, while Wingate has five appearances with four wins. This game will mark the 39th all-time meeting between these two programs, with Lenoir-Rhyne leading the series 24-14. The Bears had a five-game winning streak against Wingate before last year's 24-21 defeat. The last loss for Lenoir-Rhyne at Wingate was a lopsided 49-6 defeat in 2016. Lenoir-Rhyne has won the past three matchups at Irwin Belk Stadium, with the last two victories coming by a combined 48 points. As the Bears and Bulldogs prepare to step onto the gridiron once again, fans can expect a fiercely competitive matchup with historic implications. With defensive prowess, national rankings, and a rich history between these teams, this renewal of the Lenoir-Rhyne and Wingate rivalry promises to be a must-watch event for college football enthusiasts.

Duke at Louisville: In an upcoming college football showdown, No. 20 Duke is set to face off against No. 18 Louisville at L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky, with kickoff scheduled for 3:30 p.m., and ESPN broadcasting the game live. This marks the fourth meeting between the two schools, with Louisville currently leading the series 3-0, including a resounding 62-22 victory in their last encounter in 2021. Notably, this game is the first time both programs are nationally ranked when they face off. Duke has had a challenging schedule this season, taking on its fourth nationally-ranked opponent in eight games, and they hold a 1-2 record against top-25 teams. The Blue Devils also face back-to-back top-20 opponents for the first time since 2013. Under the guidance of head coach Mike Elko, Duke has excelled in the turnover battle, accumulating 129 points from turnovers in 20 games. Coach Elko's record at Duke is an impressive 14-6 in his first 20 games, making it the second-best start for a head coach in the school's history. Duke's football team stands out in the ACC, ranking highly in both scoring offense and defense. Graduate running back Jordan Waters has been a scoring machine, and redshirt sophomore linebacker Tre Freeman leads the team in tackles, making significant contributions. The upcoming clash between Duke and Louisville promises an exciting contest between two nationally ranked teams, setting the stage for an action-packed game that college football fans won't want to miss.

Presbyterian at Davidson: The Davidson Wildcats are set to host the Presbyterian Blue Hose at Richardson Stadium in Davidson, North Carolina. Davidson boasts a record of 5-2 in the 2023 season and a perfect 4-0 in Pioneer Football League (PFL) play. In their last game, they secured a 42-21 victory over Valparaiso. The Wildcats have been on a roll, winning their last five games and have an impressive 16-1 record in their home games since the 2021 season. Davidson is known for their high-scoring offense, averaging 53.0 points per game during their current five-game winning streak. They are among the top teams in FCS rankings for various offensive and defensive categories, showcasing their dominance in the league. The series history between Davidson and Presbyterian dates back to their first meeting on November 22, 1919, which ended in a scoreless tie. This will be the 34th meeting between the two teams, with Davidson leading the series 17-14-2. The Wildcats have enjoyed a 3-1 record against Presbyterian in PFL matchups since Presbyterian joined the league in 2020. Additionally, this game marks the third annual Carolina Border Clash / Battle for the 1919 Cup, a tradition that Davidson aims to uphold after winning last year's encounter with a score of 56-24.