The Setup: Denison enters the last week of the regular season with Kenyon College doing something they have not done in 32 years…playing for a conference championship. At 7-2 overall and 7-1 in the North Coast Athletic Conference, a win for Denison would result in at least a share of the 2018 NCAC title. Wabash and Wittenberg also sit at 7-1 in conference play. The Little Giants host DePauw in the 125th Monon Bell Classic on Saturday at 1:07 p.m. while Wittenberg travels to Wooster for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Fighting Scots. A berth in the NCAA playoffs is still very much in play for the Big Red.
How to Watch: Denison and Kenyon kickoff at 12 p.m. from McBride Field. If you can't make it to the game, the Kenyon will provide live video at: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/kenyon/.
The Series: This is the 70th meeting between Denison and Kenyon in football. Denison has controlled the series with a record of 44-23-2 against the Lords. The Big Red has also won 12-straight against Kenyon, dating back to 2006. Last season, Denison prevailed 51-20 in Granville.
National Rankings: Denison is currently ranked in the "others receiving votes" column of the AFCA Division III Top-25 poll.
Turn back the Clock: Denison's last North Coast Athletic Conference championship was clinched on Nov. 1, 1986, with a 27-14 win over Case Western Reserve at Finnigan Field in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1986 there were no automatic bids to the NCAA playoffs so the Big Red was left out of the 16-team bracket by the selection committee. A week one loss to DePauw proved to be their undoing.
Common Thread: There is one common thread between the 1986 Big Red and the 2018 Big Red and that comes from the Marston family. Mitch Marston, a junior wide receiver, has played in all nine games this season. Mitch's father, Mark, was a junior wingback on the 1986 squad. The Marston's hail from nearby Utica, Ohio.
Opening Eyes: Senior quarterback Canaan Gebele became Denison's fourth D3football.com Team of the Week honoree after his record-setting eight-touchdown performance against Wooster. The All-American candidate was 19-of-23 for 284 yards and four touchdowns. He also had 15 carries for 120 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while snagging a 5-yard touchdown catch on Denison's version of the "Philly Special". It was the second time this season Gebele caught a touchdown on a pass from wide receiver David Weimar.
Rare Air: Already Denison's career-leader in passing yards (7,404), completions (615), and touchdown passes (63), Gebele is certainly making his case for a spot on Denison's Mount Rushmore of football greats. He is three rushing touchdowns shy of tying Marv Smith '57 for the career record in rushing TDs (40). Smith's grandson, Andrew Smith, is a starting linebacker for the Big Red.
Approaching 10K: Canaan Gebele needs 221 yards of total offense against the Lords to reach 10,000 yards for his career. He would be the third player in NCAC history to accomplish this feat, joining former OWU quarterback and current Denison wide receivers coach Mason Espinosa (10,839) and former DePauw QB, Matt Hunt (10,635).
(Big) Red Zone: Denison is third in Division III with a 96 percent success rate in the red zone. They are just two-one hundredths of a percent away from leading the nation in this category.
It's My Ball and You Can't Have It: The Big Red dominated possession against Wooster, to the tune of 42-18. They rank sixth in the nation in time of possession, averaging 35 minutes on offense per game.
Hey, Look at Me!: Gebele might be making most of the headlines but junior tailback Alex Minton is having an equally impressive season out of the backfield. Minton has rushed for over 100-yards six times and is leading the NCAC with 1,164 yards. He needs 62 yards to move past Sam Fioroni (1,225 yards) into third place on Denison's single-season rushing list.
Shut Down Defense: To start off last week's game, Wooster went on a 7-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to take a 6-0 lead. The Big Red defense was dominant after that, allowing just 258 more yards throughout the rest of the game, and limiting the time of possession to just over 18 minutes. Defensive back Ryan Zinkula led the charge on Senior Day with seven tackles.
Big Game Dave: David Weimar posted his second 100-yard receiving game of the season against Wooster. He finished with a season-high 11 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw his second touchdown pass of the season. Weimar needs one touchdown catch to move into a tie for second place in career touchdown receptions at Denison with 23. A two-time Google Cloud Academic All-District selection, Weimar is a nominee for Google Cloud Academic All-America in 2018.