The Albion College football team (5-4, 5-0 MIAA) will learn its playoff matchup on Sunday, but first it hosts Trine University (7-2, 3-2 MIAA) on Nov. 12 with an opportunity to win the MIAA championship outright.
The Britons will be out for redemption after finishing second in the MIAA standings behind Trine the past two seasons. Trine easily defeated Albion both years, including a 58-16 drubbing in 2010 and 33-14 win in 2009.
The Thunder are in the unfamiliar position of underdog. Trine won the MIAA championship in 2009 and 2010.
“We’ve been second the last two years but I don’t think it’s due to them being much better than us,” Offensive lineman Eric Woods, Comstock junior, said. “We just have to prepare better to win the game.”
On offense, the Britons may find success in the passing game. Albion’s top three receivers are all over six feet tall. J.C. Cruse, Detroit senior, is a big-play threat at 6’3’’. Trine’s starting cornerbacks are both listed at 5’9’’.
Trine’s inexperience could also be a factor. The Thunder graduated many seniors from last year’s squad. There has been a lot of turnover in the Thunder’s starting lineup.
“Coach says they are only returning three starters defensively,” Cruse said. “They are not as experienced as they were last year so we feel like we can attack them and get some big plays.”
Defensively, Trine’s ground attack should test the Briton’s staunch run defense. It will be a battle of both the MIAA’s top rushing offense and defense. Trine averages 179.7 rushing yards per game. Albion gives up just 96.0 rushing yards per game.
“They run the ball well,” Head coach Craig Rundle said. “They have some explosive skill guys.”
The very next day, Albion will find out its NCAA playoff opponent. NCAA.com will host an online selection show starting at 6 p.m. The Britons last made the NCAA playoffs in 2005, losing 20-38 to Wabash College in the first round.
“It’s a big stride for the program,” Woods said. “Everyone wants to go to the playoffs and win an NCAA championship.
Photo courtesy of Albion College