DATE: Saturday, Nov.20, 2010 -- noon (MST)
Nelson Stadium – Helena, Mont.
THIS WEEK: Azusa Pacific is one of 16 schools competing in the opening round of the NAIA Football Championship Series. The Cougars visit Carroll College of Helena, Mont., Saturday (Nov. 20) for noon (MST) game at Nelson Stadium.
SERIES NOTES: Carroll has won all 5 previous meetings with Azusa Pacific, including 3 in Nelson Stadium in Helena, one of which was an NAIA playoff game. The 2 programs first met in 2004 and played twice that season. While Azusa Pacific held the eventual national champion Saints to a combined 2 TDs between both games, it was the Saints who won each time, first beating the Cougars, 12-0, on 4 Marcus Miller field goals in a regular-season meeting in Azusa, and then 9 weeks later in Helena, in the semifinals of the NAIA playoffs, which the Saints won, 14-10, on a Tyler Emmert 1-yard QB sneak with 1:21 left in the game. Since then, the 2 teams have met 3 more times in regular-season play with Carroll winning in 2005 (27-7) in Helena, in 2008 (41-22) in Azusa, and again in 2009 (35-13) in Helena.
vs. NAIA: Azusa Pacific’s opportunities to play NAIA opponents have been rare over the decades. From 1983 to 1997, Azusa Pacific played just 5 NAIA schools. However, in 2004, the Cougars picked up the pace and played 6 NAIA teams in the regular season (9 in all with postseason play). Three years ago, Azusa Pacific played 5, but the life of an independent has its ebbs and flows, and this year the Cougars faced just 2 — Webber International and Southern Oregon — during the regular season. The Cougars are 64-67 all-time vs. NAIA teams, but since their 1998 NAIA championship season, they are 27-23.
BIG SKY GAMES: Azusa Pacific is 1-3 all-time in games played in Montana, losing all 3 previous visits to Carroll in Helena. However, the Cougars did knock off Rocky Mountain College in Billings by a score of 31-17 in 2003.
NATIONAL RANKING: Azusa Pacific is ranked No. 18 in the final NAIA Coaches Poll of 2010. The Cougars were ranked in 9 of the 11 polls this season, reaching a high of No. 14 on Sept. 27. Carroll is ranked No. 2 in the final poll. The Saints opened the season at No. 3 and moved to No. 2 on Sept. 27, where they have remained ever since. Carroll has been ranked in the NAIA Top 5 for 76 consecutive polls.
ON THE INTERNET: Saturday’s first-round NAIA playoff game between Azusa Pacific and Carroll can be viewed live through an Internet videostream at www.carroll.edu/athletics/stream.cc.
ROAD WARRIORS: No NAIA team in the nation travels as much as Azusa Pacific. Over the past 8 seasons, the Cougars have played games in 14 different states — Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Montana, Washington, Utah, New Mexico and Oregon. In 2007, it was believed that no college football team on the continental United States traveled more than Cougars who covered more than 18,000 miles of land for 6 road games. This week’s game in Montana will mark the fourth consecutive game this season that the Cougars boarded an airplane to play a game (at Western Oregon, at Southern Oregon at Lincoln—Mo. the previous 3 games).
SNOWBIRDS: Early forecasts in Helena are calling for 40-percent chance of snow showers in Helena during game time Saturday. Though exact records have not been kept, it is believed that this will be just the third time in the 46-year history of Azusa Pacific football that the Cougars have played in snow. Ironically, the last time came in another NAIA first-round playoff game. On the morning of Nov. 22, 2003, snow began to fall in Bismarck, N.D., and didn’t stop until well after the Cougars were on a flight back home to Southern California. In the meantime, the University of Mary beat Azusa Pacific, 20-2.
THE SACKMASTER: Junior Jake Jones heads into the postseason second in the NAIA in quarterback sacks, averaging 1.2 a game. His 10.5 sacks through 9 games this season are the most by a Cougar since Chuck Asiodu’s 14 in 14 games in 2004. Jones has recorded 5 sacks in the past 3 games, including a career-high 3 in the victory at Southern Oregon. Jones leads a Cougar squad that has recorded 22 sacks in 9 games (2.4 avg.), 17th best in the NAIA. Eleven Cougars have had a hand in at least one sack.
PROTECTION DOGS: While Cougar defenders are chasing down opposing QBs, the offensive line has done a marvelous job of protecting the Cougar QB. In 228 pass plays this season, Cougar quarterbacks have been sacked just 9 times.
THE SENIOR CLASS: Azusa Pacific features just 8 seniors on its original 105-man roster, 4 of which will start in Saturday’s game at Carroll, 2 on offense and 2 on defense. All 8 are listed on the Cougars’ 57-man NAIA playoff roster.
AZUSA PACIFIC GOES 6-FOR-6: Azusa Pacific is the only school in the nation to qualify teams for all 6 fall sports NAIA national championship tournaments (football, m & w cross country, volleyball, m & w soccer).