The Wartburg College Knights take on the University of Mount Union Purple Raiders Saturday afternoon for a spot in the D-3 football national championship.
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The game (Noon ET start time) won’t be on TV, but anyone in the US can watch Wartburg vs Mount Union live on ESPN+ right here:
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Wartburg vs Mount Union Preview
The undefeated Wartburg College Knights are taking on the undefeated University of Mount Union Purple Raiders for a chance at making the D-III football championship. Mount Union won the Ohio Athletic Conference this year for an automatic bid to the playoffs, and Wartburg won the American Rivers Conference Championship, which also earned them an automatic bid. This is the first time in program history that the Wartburg Knights have advanced to the semifinal round of the D-III playoffs, whereas Mount Union boasts 15 national championships, the most recent of which came in 2017.
In his pre-game press conference, Wartburg head coach Chris Winter said in his pre-game press conference that he knows Mount Union is going to be tough to beat.
“Exciting week, obviously, for our program right now, getting ready for Mount Union … we’ve had a chance to take a look at them a little bit so far here on film and we know we’ve got a heck of an opponent. Certainly have a great track record there, multiple national championships, competing in the final four like this about every year over there. We know what we’re up against, but we’ve got a great team this fall … our teams have a lot of similarities in that balance on both sides of the ball and we’re looking forward to a great weekend and a heck of a Divison III football game here on Saturday,” said Winter.
He also said that while Mount Union is strong on both sides of the ball, it’s their special teams that really stands out.
“They have a lot of depth and their team speed. Certainly defensively, they run very well, like on the perimeter, on offense, it makes some very explosive games. And their kicking game, that’s another area. On special teams, you see their kickoff team running down there, the way they establish field position on special teams, create turnovers, setting their offense up with good opportunities to score,” said Winter.
Meanwhile, Mount Union wide receiver Wayne Ruby Jr. is chasing a the pass-catching record for their program, but he told thle Akron Beacon Journal that winning the D-III national title at the Stagg Bowl is much more important to him.
“Yes, [the record] matters, but winning the Stagg Bowl is bigger than any individual accomplishment. That’s all I care about. Honestly, it is,” said Ruby, adding, “It makes me feel blessed to be in the position that I am. It’s an honor to pick up the legacy that Cecil, Pierre, Justin and the others have left behind. It’s an honor to be recognized. But like I said, winning the Stagg Bowl is bigger than any individual accomplishment.”
Head coach Geoff Dartt added, ““I really believe Wayne doesn’t care about any of that. But he deserves everything he gets because of the way he works. He has a lot of God-given talent, those things you can’t necessarily coach. You can recruit it but can’t really coach it. He wants to be the best version of himself that he can be and he continues to do that.”
Ruby has attracted the attention of the NFL. If he goes, Ruby would be the eighth Mount Union player to read the NFL level, but right now he’s just focused on winning a title.
“I really don’t think about it,” he said of possibly being scouted by NFL teams. “All my focus is on winning a national championship. That’s been my focus ever since I came here.”
The Wartburg vs Mount Union D-III semifinal game kicks off Saturday, December 10 at 2 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN Plus.