CHICAGO – When No. 1 ranked Saint Xavier University and No. 2 ranked Marian University (Ind.) take the field Saturday afternoon for a huge Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Mideast League showdown, there will be no need for a pre-game pep talk or last-minute motivation boost. Both teams are completely aware that Saturday's winner will be the 2011 MSFA Mideast League champion and likely take the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage into this year's NAIA Football Championship Series. SXU football coach Mike Feminis knows that his Cougars need to be ready for a battle when the two teams line up at 1 p.m. (eastern) Saturday at St. Vincent Health Field in Indianapolis.
"To have another No. 1 versus No. 2 game this season is something that our players will remember for the rest of their lives," said Feminis. "This one is even bigger than the one against Saint Francis (Ind.) a few weeks ago, because there is so much more at stake. We've talked a lot about having the opportunity to host all three rounds of the postseason and winning this game would likely guarantee that. From a program standpoint, we are shooting for our third straight undefeated season and conference championship and Marian is looking to beat us for the first time and wants to be the No. 1 team in the country heading into the playoffs, so there is plenty of motivation on both sides.
"Marian is an excellent football team and definitely the most talented squad we've seen so far this year," continued Feminis. "They have a lot of weapons on offense and are extremely athletic on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the secondary. Coach (Ted) Karras is a good friend of our staff and has done a terrific job there, but we both know all of that will have to be put aside for three hours on Saturday. It should be a fantastic game between two really good football teams."
The Cougars will also put their 31-game regular-season win streak on the line, which ties with NCAA Division III power University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for the longest active regular-season streak in college football. Saturday's match-up will be the final MSFA match-up for both teams this season, but SXU closes out its 2011 slate at noon on Saturday, November 12, with a home game against Jamestown College (N.D.).