Northwest — Offense: Blake Christopher is healthy, and that helps the Bearcats out a lot. Trevor Adams didn’t necessarily do a bad job as the quarterback when Christopher missed time with a hand injury, but Christopher is their starter. He will look to keep the pressure on Western’s offense to match him stride for stride. Northwest averages just shy of 56 points-per-game. Defense: With six sacks in the first seven weeks, Northwest finally found the pass rush against Washburn and Missouri Southern. The Bearcats totaled 11 sacks in those two wins, something they would like to carry into this weekend’s game against Western. If they can succeed in that area, it could make for a long day for sophomore quarterback Travis Partridge. Special Teams: Jordan Simmons has two kickoff returns for scores this season. And while he isn’t the main return man, Northwest is still able to put him out and use his athleticism. The starting running back will mainly be used on offense though. Todd Adolf is 7-for-9 on field goal attempts this season.
Missouri Western — Offense: Michael Hill is coming off his best rushing game of his career. The MIAA Offensive Player of the Week will see a tougher matchup against Northwest, but giving him the ball will make the Bearcats respect the Griffons run game. This, in turn, could allow Partridge some time to make good efficient passes against a suspect pass coverage the Bearcats have. Playmakers like Tarrell Downing should also give Western plenty of chances to advance the football down field. Defense: David Bass and Ben Pister must put pressure on Christopher. If they can steadily be in the backfield, it will disrupt many of his throws. This could give Jeremy Weston and the rest of the secondary opportunities for some turnovers. Special Teams: It’s not a secret the Greg Zuerlein is the best kicker in the MIAA. He currently has made 13 straight field goals. Though that won’t beat Northwest, having great field position each drive will. But the less of Scott Groner fans see, the better off the Griffons might be.