The Setup: Saturday's game between Denison and Wittenberg in Springfield, Ohio pits two of the four teams in the North Coast Athletic Conference that are currently tied for first place at 4-1. The Big Red brings a three-game winning streak into the game while Wittenberg is coming off a 31-13 loss to Wabash last Saturday. This is the 81st meeting between the Big Red and the Tigers. Wittenberg holds a 54-24-2 lead in the all-time series dating back to 1901.
How to Watch: A live video stream will be provided by Wittenberg athletics. Links are available at denisonbigred.com and wittenbergtigers.com. Tickets can be purchased on the day of the game at Edwards-Maurer Field. This is the annual Homecoming game for Wittenberg so parking will be at a premium. Click here to read more about Wittenberg's ticketing and parking policies.
The Rankings: Wittenberg is ranked in the "others receiving votes" section of the AFCA Division III Top-25 Coaches Poll. Denison is currently unranked.
Getting Closer: After two decades of relatively non-competitive games between Denison and Wittenberg, the last three matchups have been can't miss television. In 2016, the Big Red defeated the Tigers 24-21 on a last-second field goal by Conor Dunn at Piper Stadium. In 2017, Wittenberg returned the favor with a 28-12 victory in Springfield. Wittenberg was undefeated and ranked 13th in the country at the time. Last year, the two teams squared off in one of the most exciting games in the history of both programs. Denison overcame a 25-point halftime deficit to force overtime that consisted of four sessions and eight possessions. A two-point conversion by Tiger quarterback Jake Kennedy sealed the incredible 68-66 win for Wittenberg.
More on last year: Last year's 68-66 thriller consisted of 1,160 yards of total offense and 18 touchdowns. Canaan Gebele passed for 262 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 119 yards and a program record, five touchdowns on the ground. Gebele asserted himself as a legitimate National Player of the Year candidate in this game and went on to become Denison's first Gagliardi Trophy semifinalist. Alex Minton added 197 yards rushing on 27 carries and David Weimar caught six passes for 150 yards and two scores. For Wittenberg, Kennedy threw for 421 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns. There was only one turnover in the game (a Wittenberg interception), and DU dominated time of possession 33:07 – 26:53.
Y3K: Alex Minton surpassed the 3,000 yards rushing milestone last week against Wooster. He had a season-high 33 carries for 155 yards and enters this week's game with 3,074 yards in his career. That places him fifth all-time at Denison. He needs 151 yards to move into fourth place.
The Coaches: Wittenberg is coached by Joe Fincham in his 23rd season at Wittenberg. He is the program's all-time leader in wins at 218-48. Hatem is in his 10th season at Denison and has a record of 61-36. He was named the NCAC Coach of the Year in 2016.
Tale of the Tape: There are plenty of intriguing matchups surrounding this week's contest. Denison boasts the top offense in the NCAC at 456.8 yards per game. Wittenberg boasts the NCAC's top defense, allowing 254.8 yards per game. Denison quarterback Drew Dawkins is ranked fourth in the nation in yards per completion (16.9) and is the NCAC leader in passing efficiency. Minton, last season's NCAC rushing champ with 1,368 yards, is leading the conference once again with 706 yards through six games.
Go Route: Junior wide receiver Peyton Vining continues to be one of the nation's top deep threats. He is averaging 99 yards per game and 25.8 yards per catch this season. He is looking to become Denison's first 1,000-yard receiver since Dushawn Brown in 2015.
Homecoming Kings: For the fourth time this season, Denison will be a team's homecoming opponent this Saturday at Wittenberg.
Up Next: Denison returns home on Nov. 2 to take on DePauw University at 1 p.m.