[tps_header]Much like the matchup between BR-1 St. Thomas against BR-4 Linfield, which we mulled over in detail yesterday, Saturday’s showdown between BR-2 Mount Union and BR-3 UW-Whitewater should be just as entertaining.
The showdown between the Purple Raiders and Warhawks is truly a battle of skill vs heart. Statistically speaking, Mount Union would be comparable to the 1927 New York Yankees, a team that rolled to the World Series on the backs of legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. UW-Whitewater – who are the defending national champions – is a true underdog. The Warhawks are not among the top five in the nation in any major statistical category. But they just keep winning, and are on a high right now off their 31-29 thriller of a win over BR-5 UW-Oshkosh.
So who wins? Before we get to the final prediction, let’s look at three key matchups that will determine the outcome of this game.[/tps_header]
Chris Nelson vs.
Mount Union pass defense
It’s fairly certain to say that the Purple Raiders defense – the best rush defense in the nation (39.8 yards allowed per game) will put most of its focus on Warhawks running back Jordan Ratliffe, who has 1,615 yards rushing this season and 23 touchdowns. That puts more pressure on the passing game, and squarely on the shoulders of Nelson, the junior quarterback. Nelson’s stats aren’t sexy – he’s thrown for 2,381 yards this year – but his strongest asset is his touchdown/interception ratio. Nelson has 20 touchdowns this year to only two interceptions, proving he’s a quarterback that truly limits mistakes. Nelson will need that against the best overall defense in the nation. While not as strong as its rush defense, the Purple Raiders are sixth in the nation in passing yards allowed (143.5).