Western suffered one regular season loss last year and it was against Missouri Southern. The game between Western and Southern was a close one last year, with the Lions being able to edge out a 31-30 victory over the Griffons.
This year, leading up to the game, is different. Both teams have winning records and have won the majority of the games by large margins.
By this time last year, Southern was 4-2 and Western had not lost a game, which was why some may have had Western as the favorite to win.
At this point, the teams seem to be two of the stronger teams in the conference, and either one of these programs could walk away with a win Saturday.
The quarterback position has been a strong point for both teams this year.
Lions quarterback Jay McDowell has proven to be a threat in the air and on the ground.
McDowell has rushed for 501 yards and five touchdowns while also throwing for 661 yards, along with four passing touchdowns.
For his stellar play, McDowell was named the MIAA player of the week against Central Missouri on Oct. 5.Travis Partridge has also had another solid year so far, for the Griffons.
Partridge has been the leader on offense, and his numbers have not disappointed.
Partridge has thrown for over 1,000 yards and has added 11 passing touchdowns to his stat line.
He also has been a factor in the run game, racking up over 200 yards of rushing and running in for eight scores.
Both teams have explosive offenses, which mean both defenses will have their hands full trying to stop one another.
Lions linebacker Gatlin Ridgway has been a playmaker for Southern on the defensive side of the ball.
Ridgway has caused havoc in the backfield for opponents and he leads the team with 55 tackles.
He has 3.5 sacks so far, while making 7 tackles for a total loss of 32 yards.
Ridgway has an interception to add to his stat line, and looks to lead the Lions to a home victory.
Western linebacker Nick Williams has been a solid defender for the Griffons early in the season.
Williams has 29 tackles total and has managed to sack the quarterback once.
The linebacker depth is deep this year, and Williams noted that knowing he has another player behind him makes his job easier.
“I am still rotating, but just not as much,” Williams said.
“I am more experienced with the defense this year.
We can play six or seven linebackers.
So if anybody is tired, we can sub in. Personally, I enjoy that.”Wideout, Derek Libby, noted that the schedule is only starting to pick up now and his team has to be ready each week.
“We have played some great teams so far,” Libby said.
“Every MIAA team is good and you cannot take them for granted.
Our ending schedule is a little tougher and everyone knows that.
It’s nice to play some tough competition.
“Head coach, Jerry Partridge, said that he is expecting a good game and he also noted that he was ready for the challenge.
“I am anxious for it, let’s go,” Coach Partridge said. “Let’s play. I think that our kids are ready to play.
We respect Missouri Southern and we better respect Missouri Southern. Just because they have won 3 out of the last four, does not mean they get a win on this one.
And it does not mean we get a win on this one.”