The Setup: There's a three-way tie atop the North Coast Athletic Conference standings and two of those teams will clash on Saturday night at Deeds Field-Piper Stadium when #11/14 Wittenberg takes on the Denison Big Red at 7 p.m. This is the 80th meeting between the Big Red and the Tigers. Wittenberg holds a 53-24-2 lead in the all-time series which dates to 1901.
How to Watch: The Game will be played under the lights at Deeds Field-Piper Stadium. The gates will open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for youths and senior citizens. Denison students will be admitted free of charge with a valid ID. If you can't make it to the game, the Denison Sports Network broadcast will begin at 6:45 with Joey Semel (play-by-play) and Patrick Mullinger (color) handling broadcast duties.
The Rankings: Wittenberg enters the game ranked No. 11 in the latest AFCA Division III Coaches Top-25 poll. The Tigers are ranked 14th in the most recent D3football.com top-25 poll. Denison is unranked.
The Total Package: Canaan Gebele surpassed 8,000 yards of total offense in the win over Oberlin last week. Last season he passed Chris Spriggs to become the program's all-time leader in total offense. He enters this week's game with 8,064 yards which ranks him eighth in NCAC history in the category. The NCAC's all-time leader in total offense is Ohio Wesleyan's Mason Espinosa (10,839 yards) from 2010-13. Espinosa is currently an assistant coach with the Big Red.
Run, Pass, & Catch: Gebele was named the NCAC Offensive Player of the Week after his six-touchdown performance against the Yeomen. He passed for four touchdowns, ran for one and was on the receiving end of a pass from David Weimar in the first quarter. It was the first touchdown catch of Gebele's career.
Sack Master: Junior defensive end Nate Keirn became the program's all-time leader in sacks after taking down Oberlin quarterback Zach Taylor, twice last week. His 18.5 sacks moved him past Zach Neufeld (16.5 sacks) and into first place. Keirn has 13 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 6.5 TFL's this season.
When Worlds Collide: Denison is ranked 16th in Division III in total offense (500.3 yards per game) and Wittenberg has the nation's 26th ranked defense at 251.0 yards per game.
The Coaches: Denison's Jack Hatem is in his ninth season leading the Big Red. He earned career victory No. 50 last week at Oberlin. Only two coaches in Denison history have more victories than Hatem in Walter Livingston (76) and Keith Piper (200). Wittenberg head coach Joe Fincham is in his 23rd season in Springfield. He surpassed the 200-win milestone last season while leading the Tigers to a 10-0 regular season and the program's 13th conference title.
Moving the Sticks: One of the many signs of a good team is how they perform on third down. Denison is ranked 15th in Division III in third-down conversion at 53 percent, which also leads the NCAC. Wittenberg is 26th in D-III at an even 50 percent.
Taking Aim: Wittenberg quarterback Jake Kennedy is completing a Baker Mayfield-like 74 percent of his passing attempts this season which ranks him third in the nation among D-III starting quarterbacks. Gebele checks in at 64 percent.
Will History Repeat? Wittenberg enters with a 17-game regular season winning streak. Their last loss came under the lights at Piper Stadium on Oct. 16, 2016 thanks to a 33-yard field by Conor Dunn with 21 seconds remaining. Wittenberg was ranked No. 14 in the nation at the time and the win catapulted Denison into the Top-25 for the first time in program history. It also marked Denison's first win over Wittenberg since 1989.
Big Red Weekend: The annual Big Red Weekend festivities will surround this weekend's game. On Saturday four Denison varsity teams will play home games, starting with Field Hockey at 11 a.m. vs. Earlham. They are followed by men's soccer at noon against Kenyon and women's soccer at 3 p.m., also against Kenyon. Volleyball is competing at Hiram and men's and women's cross country are running at the All-Ohio Championship in Norton, Ohio. On Friday night the Varsity D Association will induct six new members into the Denison Athletics Hall of Fame. Those inductees are Elaine Binkley '07, Anna Tuttle Indahl '99, Frank Pennimpede '99, Drew Shamrock '05, Frederick Waddell '05, and Sue Stimmel.