Four teams from the Mid-States Football Association will play Saturday in the NAIA Championship Series. Saint Xavier will play at home, while Saint Francis (Ind.), McKendree (Ill.) and Marian (Ind.) will be in the road in the first round. William Penn was left out of the postseason despite one loss on the year. Nonetheless, there are four teams that will represent the MSFA in the postseason.
Here is a look at the matchups:
University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) vs Saint Xavier (Ill.) – 2:00
The University of the Cumberlands received the final spot into the NAIA Championship Series. After blasting Cumberland University in the regular season finale, the Patriots jumped six spots to be eligible for the postseason. Saint Xavier earned its spot in the postseason after running through their schedule without a blemish. The offense for the Cougars is tremendously talented with guys like Anthony Kropp, Mike Maher, Xavier Torres and many others. Cumberlands must be ready to play and the defense will have to have a big day if the Patriots are going to have a chance to win this game in the end. SXU appears poised for a run at the title. Can the Patriots end that run early?
PREDICTION: SXU 49 UC 17
Marian (Ind.) at Ottawa (Kan.) – 2:30
Marian is on the road to Ottawa. The Knights have been on a roll after falling apart in the fourth quarter against Saint Xavier. Ottawa received the final hosting spot at No. 8. The only loss this season for the Braves is to No. 6 McPherson. Marian has two setbacks on the season, to No. 3 Saint Xavier and No. 10 Saint Francis (Ind.). Ottawa has fought through a couple of come-from-behind victories this season. The Braves have shown their two minute offense can be very good if they are put in that situation. Marian’s offense has come alive in recent weeks and has been playing extremely well. If the defense can hold its own and slow down Clarence Anderson then the Knights will have a good chance to pull off a first round upset.
PREDICTION: MU 38 OU 24
Saint Francis (Ind.) at Lindenwood (Mo.) – 2:30
Saint Francis has a tough draw in the first round. Cougar fans have to be wondering why they are playing a higher rated team than Marian, who the Cougars beat this season. Nonetheless the Cougars must prepare like this will be the final game of the season because it very well could be. Saint Francis has to find a way to slow down the best offense in the nation. The defense will have to be at its best to win this game. Lindenwood is talented on offense and special teams. The defense has played well this season and may be an improved defense from last season. That could be enough for the Lions to make a second straight trip to Rome. They have to get by Saint Francis first, a team that was in the ‘ship not long ago.
PREDICTION: LU 42 USF 21
McKendree (Ill.) at McPherson (Kan.) – 3:00
McKendree should feel confident in its first round matchup on the road to McPherson. The two could matchup very well for a postseason game. Austin Fisher will need to have a solid game and the running game needs to be successful. If they can run the football then McKendree has an opportunity to control the clock and potentially win this football game. The defense has to be ready to be hit from every angle in this game. Shane Mascarenes is a good quarterback and he will go to Andy Skinner and Joe Middleton all game long. If the passing game isn’t working they will open it up with the rushing attack. This is a pretty solid offense that is well rounded. The Bulldogs offense may be too much in this one.
PREDICTION: McP 45 McK 31
There are some good matchups in the first round of the postseason. There are also some long bus trips to these games. Safe travels to everyone going to games this weekend. Enjoy the games as it will be the last one of the season for eight teams. Some folks have been complaining about where they are being sent and what not. Remember this: At the end of the day you have to beat the best to be the best. It doesn’t matter if it happens in the first round, second round or whenever, but eventually you have to win tough football games. Prepare hard, cheer loud, stay positive and respect the game. This is football folks and most importantly it is postseason football. This is certainly the most wonderful time of the year.
**All times EST