The North Central Cardinals will face an old foe as they visit the Mount Union Purple Raiders on Saturday over at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance, Ohio. The winner of this game earns a spot in the DIII championship game next week.
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The game (Noon ET start time) isn’t on TV anywhere, but anyone in the US can watch North Central vs Mount Union live on ESPN+:
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North Central vs Mount Union Football 2021 Preview
These two teams have faced off only on two occasions, but the games that they played were amongst some of the biggest in DIII football in the past few years.
This game will be the third-ever meeting between the schools, who have split the previous two meetings, both in Alliance. The Raiders won 41-40 in a 2013 national semifinal game while the Cardinals scored a 59-52 win in a 2019 second round game.
The fourth-ranks Purple Raiders hosts North Central with very similar stakes. Mount Union are undefeated and were able to win their 32nd Ohio Athletic Conference title and are poised to win their 14th national championship since 1993.
Mount Union is fourth in the nation in tackles for loss allowed and literally at the center of it is senior center John Valentine (Ashland), who was named OAC offensive lineman of the year.
Mount Union come into this game with an overwhelming victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic 55-6.
North Central, located in Naperville, Ill., is 12-0 overall, won the automatic bid as champions of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin and is making its 13th NCAA Playoff appearance.
They come into this game with the opportunity to get to another final and also extend the longest win streak in the nation, currently at 23.
The Cardinals will look to break that streak but also improve their playoff record as they have a 20-11 record in the NCAA Playoffs and are the defending national champions after winning 2019 title game with a 41-14 win over Wisconsin-Whitewater.
North Central ended up with a first round bye since Carnegie Mellon (Pa.) could not play the game. The Cardinals then scored a 34-20 win over No. 11 Wisconsin-La Crosse in the second round and a 55-6 win over No. 18 RPI ranking in the quarterfinals.
Defensively, they Cardinals are ranked 10th nationally and has 86 tackle for loss and 42.5 sacks. Senior linebacker Ben Wong is the top tackler with 58 stops, junior lineman Dan Gilroy has a team-best 8.5 sacks while sophomore Nic Rummell has a team-high three interceptions.