From Harding University
On Nov. 1, 1928, the Harding and Ouachita Baptist football rivalry began on a sloppy, rain-soaked field in Arkadelphia, Ark. Both teams wanted to run the ball, and as the 0-0 final score indicates, both teams were pretty good at stopping the run.
Fast forward almost 84 years and 54 matchups later, and 25th-ranked Harding and 10th-ranked Ouachita Baptist will meet again at A.U. Williams Field on Saturday at 1 p.m., with very similar game plans (and hopefully a friendlier weather forecast) to that very first meeting.
Harding leads the Great American Conference in rushing at 295.2 yards per game. Ouachita Baptist has the conference's leading rusher in junior Chris Rycraw, who averages 129.5 rushing yards per game.
Both offenses could be stymied a bit by a pair of defenses that excel in slowing opponents on the ground. The Bisons have limited teams to only 91.5 rushing yards per game (10th in Division II) and have limited opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in five straight games, a feat Harding has never accomplished during its NCAA era (since 1997).
Ouachita Baptist's defense ranks fifth in Division II against the run, allowing only 76.7 yards per game. The Tigers have given up only 457 rushing yards in six games.
There may never have been more riding on a Harding-Ouachita Baptist game than there is Saturday. Harding is 5-1 overall and 3-1 in GAC play. Ouachita Baptist is undefeated at 6-0 overall and 4-0 in conference. Both teams have a chance to win the conference championship and both are still very much alive for postseason playoff hopes. The first NCAA Regional Rankings come out Monday.
Harding will be playing a nationally-ranked team for the second straight week. The Bisons lost for the first time in 2012 last week against then-12th-ranked Henderson State. It will be the seventh time since 2000 that Harding has played nationally-ranked teams in consecutive weeks.
The Bisons are nationally-ranked for the second straight week and will be looking for their first victory as a nationally-ranked team since a 40-27 victory over Arkansas-Monticello in 2002 when Harding was ranked 24th.
The Bisons will be seeking their first road win over a top-10 team since joining the NCAA.
Saturday's game will air live in Searcy on KVHU 95.3-FM in Searcy with Billy Morgan and Scott Goode on the call. Live audio and live statistics will also be available on a link at HardingSports.com.