The quarterfinal round of the NAIA Championship Series has been announced by the NAIA National Office in Kansas City. All four MSFA teams picked up a victory in the first round and will play in three of the four games next Saturday. The only game not involving a MSFA team will be in Olathe, KS where Morningside will meet MidAmerica Nazarene. One game, Saint Francis vs Saint Xavier is a rematch from a couple of weeks ago that decided the MSFA Mideast League title.
Here is a look at some thoughts on the games involving MSFA teams:
McKendree at Sioux Falls – 12:00 p.m.
After a road trip to McPherson, Kan., the Bearcats are back on the road this week to meet the top team in the country. Sioux Falls handled Northwestern Oklahoma State in the first round with a 33-14 win. McKendree looked pretty solid against McPherson. The defense made big plays and held one of the nation’s top offenses to just one touchdown. They are going to have to have a repeat performance and more to top Sioux Falls this week. The Bearcats have a good run defense and may stop the run again this week. The difference between the Sioux Falls and McPherson offense is the quarterback and wide receiver. Jon Ryan is one of the best wide receivers in the country and is complimented by Alex Anderson at that position. Jon Eastman has NCAA DI experience and has been one of the more efficient signal callers this season. McKendree will need to have more out of the passing game to have success in this game. If Austin Fisher can have a big time game throwing the football then McKendree has a chance. It is a tough matchup for McKendree and in the end I think Sioux Falls is that much better this season.
PREDICTION: USF 42 MU 17
Marian at Carroll – 12:00 p.m.
Marian could be on its way to the toughest defensive challenge of the season. Carroll College has a defensive minded head coach and often has one of the better defenses in the country. Carroll’s offense can be very good when Gary Wagner is having a solid ball game. He has a good running back to open up the defense and a sure handed tight end in Bubba Bartlett. If the Knights are going to win this game they will almost certainly have to play mistake free football. Carroll College is never an easy place for an opponent to go to, especially in the postseason. Clay Coomer needs to continue to play well for Marian if the Knights are going to win. He has been playing very well since the team lost on the road at Saint Xavier. JaQuan Patilla is a guy the Knights can use as a wide receiver or in the wildcat formation. Marian faithful that make the trip will be treated extremely well in Helena, Mont., but in the end I think Carroll is too tough for the Knights and Marian sees its season come to an end.
PREDICTION: CC 38 MU 21
Saint Francis at Saint Xavier – 1:00 p.m.
Saint Xavier rolled to victory over University of the Cumberlands in the first round as many expected. Saint Francis won a shootout over Lindenwood. USF did something in this game that was very important for the rest of the postseason – prove it can score a lot of points. Many thought if the Cougars got into a shootout their offense wouldn’t compete with opposing top offenses. They proved that theory wrong and now head to Saint Xavier for a rematch game. Earlier this season SXU won the game handily over Saint Francis. It is often said that it is tough to beat a team twice in one season. You can be sure Saint Francis will want revenge in this game and the meaning is that much more with it being the postseason. Saint Xavier has one of the best offenses in the country and are led by Anthony Kropp and Mike Maher. If Saint Francis is going to win this game they have to have a brilliant performance at the quarterback position. This is a rival game that will end the season for the loser. While I don’t think the score difference will be as big as the first meeting, I think Saint Xavier is very good this year.
PREDICTION: SXU 28 USF 23
**All times LOCAL