Football Preview: Denison at Ohio Wesleyan - Nov. 9

Jarod Scheff  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Jarod Scheff | Photo by Jace Delgado

The Setup:  Denison (7-1, 6-1 NCAC) travels to Ohio Wesleyan (6-2, 5-2 NCAC) on Saturday, November 9 for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Battling Bishops at Selby Stadium.  Denison has won six-straight against Ohio Wesleyan, dating back to the 2012 season.  Last season, Denison posted a 27-10 win over Ohio Wesleyan at Piper Stadium.  Alex Minton rushed for a career-high 226 yards on 32 carries.  Ryan Hallinan also returned a Jax Harville interception 63-yards for a touchdown just before halftime. 

The Series:  This is the 111th meeting between Denison and Ohio Wesleyan.  The Big Red has more games against OWU than any other institution in the history of the program.  Ohio Wesleyan holds a 65-38-7 advantage in the series that dates to 1891.  Ohio Wesleyan's last win over Denison came in 2012 at Piper Stadium in Granville.  Current Denison Quarterback Coach, Mason Espinsosa threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns while quarterbacking the Batting Bishops to the win.

How to Watch:  Ohio Wesleyan will provide a live video stream of Saturday's game beginning at 1 p.m.  Tickets prices are $5 for adults and $3 for children if you're attending the game in-person.

The Rankings:  Denison is ranked in the "others receiving votes" category of the Top-25 and the AFCA Division III Coaches' Top-25 Poll.  The Big Red has 16 votes in the AFCA poll and four votes in the poll.  Ohio Wesleyan is unranked.

The Coaches:  This is Jack Hatem's 100th game as the head coach of the Denison Big Red.  In his 10th season at Denison, he boasts a career record of 63-36 (.636) and has led DU to a 30-9 (.769) record since 2016.  Tom Watts is in his eighth season leading Ohio Wesleyan.  He has guided the Battling Bishops to a 46-32 (.590) record.

My iPod's stuck on replay:  Denison senior running back Alex Minton won his second-straight NCAC Offensive Player of the Week award after rushing for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries in the Big Red's 42-7 win over DePauw. Minton moved into a tie for first place in career rushing touchdowns (40). He also became just the second player in Denison's history to post three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.  Minton is at 1,054 yards with two regular-season games to go. His career rushing yardage sits at 3,423 yards, which is fourth all-time.  He needs 304 yards to pass Clay Sampson for third-place in Denison history.  This was the fourth NCAC Player of the Week award in Minton's career.

National Spotlight:  Senior defensive tackle Chase Struewing was named to the Team of the Week on Tuesday, Nov. 5.  Struewing totaled five tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble against the Tigers.  The Denison defense held DePauw to 36 rushing yards and 195 yards of total offense. 

Eye on the Prize:  Denison has two regular season games remaining against Ohio Wesleyan and Kenyon.  Should Denison win the final two and end the year at 9-1 overall and 8-1 in the North Coast Athletic Conference, that would mark the program's first back-to-back conference championships since 1985-86.  Denison is tied at the top of the NCAC standings with Wabash.  The Little Giants have Hiram and DePauw on their schedule to close out the season. Should Denison and Wabash remain in a tie for the conference title, Wabash would win the head-to-head tiebreaker and advance to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

National Ranks:  Denison ranks 31st in total defense allowing 279 yards per game.  The offense is ranked 42nd at 431 yards per game.  The Big Red's third down conversion rate of .530 is the seventh-best in Division III.  Alex Minton ranks 10th in rushing yards (1,054), 11th in rushing yards per game (131.8) and fifth in rushing touchdowns (14).  Birmingham-Southern's Robert Shufford leads the nation with 1,443 yards.  Junior wide receiver Peyton Vining is third in D-III in yards per receptions at 25.9 yards per grab and senior defensive end Nate Keirn ranks ninth in sacks at 1.1 per game.

Fight for Every Inch:  Alex Minton has 553 carries in his Denison career and only 13 of those carries have gone for negative yardage.  He has only been stopped for a loss three times this season, once against Ohio Northern, once against Wooster and one time against Wittenberg.

Putting up Points:  During Denison's current five-game winning streak they have outscored the opposition 195-49.

Up Next: Denison will close out the 2019 regular season on Nov. 16 when they host Kenyon College (3-5, 2-5 NCAC) at 1 p.m. at Piper Stadium.