The Purple Raiders have won the last two playoff meetings - in 1998 and 2000 - between the two teams, although Wittenberg holds an 18-9 advantage in the overall series.
The Tigers, the No. 5 seed in the North Region bracket, won a thriller in the first round of the playoffs, rallying four different times to tie host Hardin-Simmons University and finally win the game in overtime, 38-35. Then last weekend, Wittenberg thumped Thomas More College 41-0 in the second round. Ranked seventh in the last American Football Coaches Association regular season poll, Wittenberg carries an 11-1 overall mark into this weekend's showdown.
Wittenberg, which will take a 29-game NCAC win streak into the 2002 campaign, won its record-setting fifth straight NCAC title and fourth consecutive outright crown in 2001 with a perfect 7-0 record. The unblemished conference record capped an amazing regular season career for this year's seniors, who became the first class in school or NCAC history to win every conference game in its four years. In addition, the Tiger seniors matched last year's graduating class with a 39-1 four-year regular season record and have since surpassed that group with 45 overall wins (against four losses).
Mount Union, the No. 1 seed in the North Region bracket and the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, has become the preeminent NCAA Division III football program, winning national championships in 1993, '96, '97, '98 and 2000. The 2001 season has already been another banner one for the Purple Raiders and legendary coach Larry Kehres as Mount Union won its 10th consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference championship and finished its seventh straight undefeated regular season. The Raiders have won 67 straight regular season games and last week posted their record 30th NCAA Division III playoff win in a 32-7 rout of Augustana, the No. 4 seed in the North Region.