Fresh off a loss to Slippery Rock University, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania football team will hit the road for the second consecutive week, this time facing off against Clarion University in a game that has major playoff implications for both squads.
Kickoff for the game is set for noon at Memorial Field.
IUP (5-2) aims to get back on track following its 40-39 defeat at the hands of Slippery Rock.
Clarion (7-1) will also look to get back in the win column after suffering its first loss of the season against California University of Pennsylvania.
“The season is not over,” IUP head coach Curt Cignetti said following the loss Saturday. “We have a lot to play for.”
Cignetti is right, because IUP is part of a three-way tie atop the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western division. Clarion and Slippery Rock are also at the top of the standings, with each team possessing 4-1 conference records.
Clarion has struggled in recent years but is playing inspired football under first-year head coach Chris Weibel.
The Golden Eagles, like many teams in the PSAC, feature a potent offensive unit that racks up 493 yards per game against opposing defenses.
Clarion is fourth in the nation in passing offense (354.4) and 11th in total offense (493.9). Two weeks ago, Clarion put up 676 yards of total offense, including 432 passing yards by quarterback Connor Simmons.
IUP is no stranger to putting up big numbers offensively, as it is set to break a school record with 465.3 yards per game this year.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Lenny Williams (accounting) has accounted for 23 plays totaling 20 yards or more thus far.
Williams had nine last week against Slippery Rock and set a school record with 504 yards of total offense.
“We’ll come together,” Williams said Saturday. “It’s a tough loss, but this isn’t over.”
Saturday’s game versus Clarion is also important from a regional perspective.
There is plenty of representation from the PSAC in the first Super Region One poll released Monday.
Slippery Rock is ranked fourth, and Clarion is sixth in the 10-team ranking. The top seven teams in the Super Region One poll qualify for the NCAA playoffs.
Currently, IUP is ranked No. 9 and is on the outside looking in.
Gannon University, the Crimson Hawks’ opponent Nov. 7, is ranked No. 8.
Essentially, if IUP wins its final three games this season, it will improve its chances to make the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Cignetti is 4-0 against Clarion in his career, including a 31-0 victory at home last season.
After a season-low total in rushing yards last week against Slippery Rock (186), IUP is now fifth in D-II in rushing yards per game, averaging 308 yards on the ground each contest.