The Southwest Baptist Bearcats have never won a game against Pittsburg State.
Pitt State holds a 20-0 edge in a series dating back to 1989 and in the last seven meetings, the Gorillas have averaged a 57-19 victory.
Pitt State scored 52 unanswered in last season's 52-9 win over Baptist in Bolivar, Mo., on a mud-and-muck infested field.
No. 14-ranked Pitt State enters with a 2-0 record after lopsided wins over Northeastern State and Central Oklahoma.
Southwest Baptist enters 0-2 after close losses to Truman State and Lindenwood.
None of those facts matter to Pitt State head coach Tim Beck, his staff and his players entering Saturday night's Carnie Smith Stadium clash with Southwest Baptist.
However, what does matter is that Southwest Baptist enters with one of the most potent passing attacks in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and Division II.
"Scoring a lot of points and definitely been in both games," Beck said at Thursday's press conference. "Offensively, they're pretty scary. Their receiver, No. 1 (Derwyn Lauderdale), he's a good, a really good player who we have to pay attention to and know where he's at. The quarterback (Willie Tindal) does a nice job of getting him the football. He's got 19 catches in two games. And, then, plus the quarterback's able to pull it down and run with it if he doesn't like what he sees. They really spread you out. I feel like offensively and defensively, they have really good skill players.
"The big thing is, again, trying to stress to our kids to not worry about the opponent but to worry about us improving ourselves in practice. And, again, both games they had an opportunity to win so they could just as easily be 2-0. We have to look at it that way and the fact they've got really good skill guys on both sides of the ball. We know in this conference that anybody can beat anybody each week."
Willie Tindal, a Fort Lauderdale native and junior college transfer from Ellsworth Community College (Iowa), leads the MIAA with 701 passing yards and has thrown five touchdowns, two interceptions.
"He's extremely athletic," senior linebacker Joe Windscheffel said. "We're going to have to keep eyes on him at all times. You can't lose him. He can tuck it and run it at any time, and he can throw it real well. It will be a challenge. . . . It will be huge for us. Communication . . . we've been preaching communication . . . talk, talk, talk . . . so everyone's on the same page for every play and hopefully, that will help eliminate some of those mistakes (big plays)."
"We weren't real happy on how we practiced last week," Beck said. "Tuesday and Wednesday, especially, and part of that's probably because of the heat. But we've practiced with a little better tempo this week. I think you've seen that we play pretty fast on Saturday but we do want to be able to apply more pressure at times. I think our defensive coaches have been real smart, real selective about when they're doing it (blitzing) right now. It maybe one of those things where we have to do it more the next couple weeks."
Page 2 of 3 - Derwyn Lauderdale already has 19 receptions for 338 yards and three scores, leading the conference in receptions and ranking among the national leaders.
We'll see how the Bearcats fare against the Gorillas' improved secondary.
The Gorillas have not lost in the shuffle Baptist running backs ViaVia Manuma and Robert McWright. Manuma rushed for 70 yards on 15 carries in last week's loss to Lindenwood.
"We kind of come into every week the same," Windscheffel said. "We've got to stop the run first. Obviously, they do have a very talented quarterback and receivers, so with our pass drops, we've always got to be weary of the quarterback just taking off and running, which adds a whole another element to their passing game. It will be a huge challenge for us."
Meanwhile, the Pitt State offense has been explosive after two weeks, averaging 55.0 points, 357.5 yards rushing and 590.5 yards of total offense. The Gorillas rank fourth nationally in both scoring and rushing offense, and sixth in total offense.
Balanced would be another superlative for the Gorilla offense the first two weeks.
"Gosh, it just keeps a defense off balance," senior tight end Conner Combes said. "Guessing every time. We have such a strong tradition of running and now that Anthony's (quarterback Anthony Abenoja) here, he's a threat at throwing. It makes the defense have to work twice as hard to stop what we're doing."
Junior quarterback Anthony Abenoja ranks fifth in the nation in passing efficiency (195.2) and he's thrown for 439 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions, completing 77.1 percent of his passes. Abenoja earned MIAA Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance in the season opener against Northeastern State.
Sophomore running back Jeff Seybold leads the Gorillas with 191 rushing yards and three TDs on 21 carries, averaging an impressive 9.1 yards per carry.
Has the distribution of wealth among several ball carriers against Northeastern State and Central Oklahoma been part of a seasonal plan?
"It's something that's happened through two games," Beck said. "I think, as our guys continue to get in better game shape, there's a chance we'll see Jeff Seybold carry the ball more. He's had a couple of issues and had to come out for a little bit but he's battled back and got back in there. So, I think there'll be a time where he carries it 20-25 times. Or it could be Dre Holman. But, I think as of right now, we have to try and rotate and keep them fresh until we kind of get settled in on one."
The Gorillas are one of the select few teams in the nation without a lost fumble or an interception thrown after two weeks.
Defensive leaders for the Bearcats include senior linebacker Shaquille Shedd (22 tackles) and senior defensive back Ivan Hodges (13 tackles, two interceptions).
Page 3 of 3 - We've gone this far without mentioning senior linebacker Nate Dreiling and senior receiver-returner John Brown. We must put a stop to that.
Dreiling crossed the 400 career tackle mark last week and he's only the second Pitt State player in the 400 club. No. 11 trails former PSU All-American and current Fort Hays State head coach Chris Brown by 69 stops and Dreiling also needs 16 tackles to become one of the top 10 tacklers in MIAA history. Marti Rave of Truman State (1977-1979) holds the conference mark at 489.
Brown needs 208 yards to surpass Ronnie West as the school's all-time receiving yardage leader. No. 5 currently stands at 2,314 yards during his Pitt State career. Brown played his freshman season at Mars Hill, a NCAA-II school in North Carolina.
Saturday will be Family Day and in a story on assistant coach Darrien Gordon, Gordon said the Pitt State team welcomed him like the newest member of an extended family. Gordon said that feeling begins with Beck.
“It's been great,” Gordon said. “The community's welcomed me with open arms. The coaching staff has, as well as the players. It's almost like you couldn't dream it any better, where you get an opportunity to be part of a great program, everyone's so accepting and friendly. . . . It starts with Coach Beck. He's intense on the field but he's a relaxed guy, a great guy and it feeds on the rest of us because it's an easy work environment.”