No. 24 Birmingham-Southern hosts Centre College, Saturday, in battle of unbeatens
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The No. 24 Birmingham-Southern College Panthers will put their national ranking and unbeaten record on the line Saturday, Oct. 15, when they host unbeaten Centre College in a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference contest. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in Panther Stadium on the BSC campus.
Birmingham-Southern enters the game with an unblemished 5-0 record, including 2-0 in SCAC play. The Panthers entered the D3football.com Top 25 this week for the first time in history.
The Centre College Colonels enter the contest with a 4-0 overall record and 1-0 conference mark.
BSC has never beaten Centre in the four games played, including last season's 35-28 loss in Danville, Ky., after the Panthers held a 21-14 halftime lead.
The two teams have one common opponent this season. BSC topped Austin College 34-10 on the road Oct. 1 in its last action. Centre College beat Austin 45-0 at home back on Sept. 24.
The Centre contest will mark just the second home game of the season for Birmingham-Southern and the first since Sept. 10.
"Obviously this is a very important game for us against the team picked to finish second in our league this season," said fourth-year BSC Head Coach Eddie Garfinkle. "It's good to be playing on our home field and in front of our home fans again, but it's going to take an outstanding effort in all three phases of the game—offense, defense, and kicking—to win this game.
"Being ranked in the Top 25 is a nice recognition for our young football program, but the coaches have stressed to our players all week that rankings don't mean a thing if you don't go out and prove it on the football field. That's where we will find out what we are made of on Saturday."
The matchup Saturday will feature two of the SCAC's top offensive and defensive teams.
Birmingham-Southern enters the game ranked No. 1 in the conference in total offense and rushing offense, and No. 2 in scoring offense. The Panthers are averaging 460 yards offense and 34 points per game, and rushing for an average of 312 yards a contest. BSC's ground attack is led by junior tailback Shawn Morris of Pensacola, Fla., who is the SCAC's leading rusher (and No. 8 in the nation) at 146 yards a game and has scored 10 touchdowns. Morris has twice this season set the Birmingham-Southern all-time record for rushing yards in a game with 193 against LaGrange on Sept. 3 and 202 against Austin College Oct. 1. He also leads the SCAC in scoring and has twice been named the SCAC Offensive Player-of-the-Week.
Junior quarterback Jimmy Stainback of Roswell, Ga., is second in the conference in total offense having passed for 684 yards and rushed for another 337.
The high-powered Centre offense ranks first in the SCAC in scoring at 37 points per game, and is second in total offense just behind the Panthers with 366 total yards per game. Centre returns eight starters on offense, including six all-conference and one all-region selection. The Colonels are led by senior quarterback and two-time All-SCAC selection Tyler Osterman who is averaging 175 yards through the air per game, which ranks second in the SCAC. Osterman is third in the conference in total offense, just behind BSC's Stainback. He has thrown for five touchdowns. Senior running back and all-conference performer from a year ago Jonathan Pinque of Athens, Ala., is third in the SCAC in rushing at 78 yards a contest.
Centre also touts the SCAC's top kicking game, with junior specialist Jordan Gay a perfect 18 of 18 on point after kicks and 7 of 8 on field goal attempts. Gay also is averaging 41 yards per punt.
Birmingham-Southern ranks No. 2 in most SCAC defensive categories, including scoring defense (15 points per game), rushing defense (134 yards per game), pass defense (139 yards per game), and total defense (273 yards per game). The Panthers also lead the league in interceptions with 10.
Junior defensive back Andrew Shannon of Trussville leads BSC in tackles with 47 total, which ranks No. 2 in the SCAC. Shannon also has four interceptions. Senior defensive end Bryan Jackson of Houston, Texas, leads the conference in sacks with 4.5, and is second on the team in tackles with 32.
Centre enters Saturday's game with the No. 3 defensive unit in the SCAC in scoring defense, pass defense, and total defense. The Colonels are led by senior linebacker Jared Ferguson, the team's leading tackler with 31 through four games, and senior defensive back Kent Crick, who has four interceptions on the season.
After a week off, Birmingham-Southern will return to action Oct. 29 at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. The SCAC tilt kicks off at Noon.