The Southern Oregon offense will face off against another elite pass rush today when the Raiders take on Eastern Oregon in a cross-state rivalry rematch at La Grande's Community Stadium.
Southern Oregon, ranked 14th in the latest NAIA football poll with a 6-2 record, will be looking for its second victory over Eastern Oregon this season. The Raiders defeated the Mountaineers 68-22 last month in Ashland as the offense surpassed 700 yards for the first of four straight games. Eastern Oregon came into that game ranked No. 24, but four losses in its past six games have dropped EOU to 4-4 this season and out of the national rankings.
Raider fans can keep up with today's football action with live stats and video from La Grande by following links available souraiders.com.
Today's game is SOU's final road game of the 2012 regular season. The Raiders host No. 7 Montana Tech on Nov. 10. Head coach Craig Howard knows each game will present a challenge as the Raiders aim for a Frontier Conference championship in their first year as conference members.
"We face two tough opponents to finish out our season, one at home and one on the road," Howard said. "The game this week is (Eastern Oregon's) senior day, so it's going to be an emotional, fun-filled day in La Grande, an emotionally packed game with a lot of intense football play between two teams that are rivals in the state of Oregon."
Southern Oregon's offense has continued its record-setting pace, even as No. 6 Carroll prevented the Raiders from setting a single-game yardage mark for the fourth straight contest. The Raiders still tallied 719 yards in the 52-49 upset victory, their fourth straight game with more than 700 yards. They lead the NAIA in total offense and are on pace to shatter the national record for yards per game (653.9) and also lead the nation in passing offense (448.9 yards per game). The Raiders' 54.4 points per game average is the best in the nation, as is their 30.6 first downs per game and two total sacks given up.
Individually, Austin Dodge continues to stretch his own SOU season records in yards (3,289), touchdowns (27), completions (234) and attempts (347). Meanwhile, Cole McKenzie and Patrick Donahue are on the verge of breaking most of SOU's single-season receiving records. Both have surpassed 1,000 yards receiving already — only the second and third receivers in SOU history to do so — and both are within range of Spike Gordon's 1965 program record of 1,163 receiving yards. Donahue has already tied the program record of 70 catches, with McKenzie's 61 catches close behind, and McKenzie's 12 touchdown grabs are tied for the school record.
The Raiders own a 46-14-3 all-time record against Eastern Oregon, with SOU's 46 wins against EOU almost double the Raiders' win total against any other opponent.
With six wins, the Raiders have already clinched their first winning season since 2007 and have more wins than any team since the 2002 squad finished 8-3.
Going into the final two weeks, the Raiders have a chance to take home a conference crown and advance to the NAIA Championship Series for the first time in 10 years. They've reached their highest ranking since 2003 and have been climbing each week during a four-game win streak. But Howard knows the danger of focusing on the numbers and is instead looking only at the upcoming game.
"We're not looking at polls," Howard said. "We're only looking at being 1-0 this week. We're going to La Grande on Friday, playing the game on Saturday, and we hope to come back to Ashland 1-0 this week."