LINDSBORG — It’s been a long time since there has been this much on the line when Kansas Wesleyan and Bethany College renew their bitter football rivalry on Saturday at Anderson Field.
One of the teams is going from KCAC contender to pretender as both enter the 1:30 p.m. game 4-2 in the conference after losing games last week to fall out of a four-way tie at the top.
They both trail 5-1 co-leaders Tabor and Sterling by a game and those two teams already have played this year, so it’s basically a loser-leave-town game between the two most intense rivals in the KCAC as the winner still has a chance and the loser is toast.
The Swedes were stunned 28-14 last week by Southwestern, which had won just one game going into the contest. Kansas Wesleyan was hammered 41-20 by Tabor.
Both teams have high-octane offenses, though Bethany fell off last week. The Swedes still lead the KCAC in total offense and KW is third.
Defensively, the Coyotes are fourth in yards allowed, while Bethany has sunk to last, giving up 410 yards a game.
The expected cold conditions could hamper the passing game that both teams rely on. KW’s Kelly Cordova, the former McPherson College Bulldog, is No. 2 in the conference, just ahead of the Swedes’ Isaiah Salazar. The Swedes’ pass defense has been a bit porous, ranking just eighth.
Bethany has the better running game, led by Jafar Thomas and Aaron Knox.
Special teams could play a vital role in the outcome. The Coyotes blocked three punts last week, but Bethany has one of the best punters in the conference in James Augusta.
Bethany is 5-2 overall and can clinch its first winning season under coach Paul Hubbard with a victory.
The Coyotes are 5-3.