Sole possession of first place in the American Southwest Conference, two top five teams facing off, potential playoff seeding, and control of a team’s destiny in the face for a conference title will all be on the line this Saturday as the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team faces Hardin-Simmons University. In fact, the list of things riding on the outcome of the game is almost as long as the rich tradition of this series. The series will resume when the Cru travels to Abilene to face the Cowboys in a 1:00 PM kickoff at Shelton Stadium this weekend.
Both teams will go into the game with 4-0 overall records and 3-0 marks in ASC play. Both teams are highly ranked nationally with the Cru coming in ranked #1 in nation by both the American Football Coaches Association and D3football.com. Hardin-Simmons is fifth in the country in both of those polls. The winner of this game has gone on to win at least a share of the ASC championship in each of the last 19 years. The Cowboys also ended UMHB’s 61-game regular season winning streak with a 29-26 win over the Cru the last time these two teams met in Abilene. Not that this rivalry needed anything extra.
“There is always a different feeling around here when we get ready to play Hardin-Simmons,” UMHB Head Football Coach Pete Fredenburg said. “They are so well-coached and have such a good game plan that you have to prepare for the system more than individual players. I just think this is going to be a classic game to watch.”
UMHB leads the all-time series between the two teams 17-6 and the Cru has won 15 of the last 16 meetings. The winner of Saturday’s contest will be in control of its own destiny in terms of winning the ASC championship and also becomes the favorite to claim the only Pool B berth in the NCAA Division III National Championships. Pool B is reserved for independents or teams from conferences without an automatic bid to the postseason. The Cru enter Saturday’s game ranked among the nation’s best in scoring defense and total defense. Hardin-Simmons tops the country in scoring offense and total offense. The Cowboys are coming off an 80-42 victory over previously unbeaten East Texas Baptist last Saturday. UMHB is coming off a 44-10 win at Southwestern University last Saturday for its 19th consecutive victory.
“I think last Saturday’s game will be a blessing for us because we did some things that are not indicative of our program or our team,” Fredenburg said. “We are going to get this ship headed in the right direction. I am focusing on our program getting better and becoming a more complete team. We can’t focus too much on our opponent; we need to keep working on us.”
Saturday’s game will also be broadcast live on K101.7 FM and through the station’s web site with the pre-game show starting at 12:30 PM. UMHB will provide live video streaming for the game through this link: http://portal.stretchinternet.com/umhb/. Hardin-Simmons should also provide live statistics for the game. All of the links to live coverage are also available on the UMHB athletic department web site at www.cruathletics.com.