ASHLAND — Southern Oregon can no longer take wins at The College of Idaho for granted. Keeping in mind last year's debacle — an overtime loss to a 1-5 team that effectively put all postseason thoughts to rest — that much is for certain.
And if the 25th-ranked Raiders (1-0) want to further impress NAIA Top 25 voters before the first coaches' poll of the regular season is released next week, they could do worse than in front of a hostile crowd at Caldwell's Simplot Stadium, where kickoff is set for 12 p.m. Pacific Time Saturday. The game will serve as the home opener for the Yotes, whose rigorous start to the season included losses at No. 19 Montana Western (16-14) and Big Sky Conference opponent Northern Colorado (41-14).
The Raiders established a solid foundation for their résumé with last Saturday's 31-21 Frontier Conference win against No. 7 Eastern Oregon in Sherwood. Another win would make them 2-0 for just the third time in the last 15 years: They won their first two in 2010, when they went on to lose their next six; and in 2014, when they went on to win a national championship.
- Saturday's game will mark the seventh between SOU and C of I since the Yotes resurrected their football program in 2014. SOU leads the all-time series, 8-3.
- SOU won the first four Frontier contests against C of I by an average margin of 34 points with an average of 590 yards of offense. Last year, however, the Raiders had to survive a 31-27 home win on Oct. 1 in which they were outgained 501-441 and committed three turnovers to C of I's zero. And on Oct. 22 in Caldwell, the Yotes pulled off a 44-41 upset in overtime behind redshirt-freshman quarterback Darius-James Peterson's 228 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
- SOU is 3-2 all-time in Caldwell.
- The first contest was in the 1948 Pear Bowl, a 27-20 Yotes victory. The teams waited 15 years before their next meeting.
Like He Never Left: SOU quarterback Tanner Trosin looked like his old self in his first game back against EOU, earning Frontier Conference offensive player of the week plauditsMonday as a result. The senior completed 21 of 33 passes — right on par with his career completion percentage of 62 — for 311 yards, and had 14 carries that netted 85 yards. Five of his completions went for 20-plus yards, and while putting the game away in the fourth quarter he rushed in a 15-yard TD and threw a 74-yarder to Bronsen Ader.
Over Trosin's last three Frontier Conference games, all against EOU, he's attempted 114 passes for 780 yards worth of completions without an interception. Five of his last seven starts have resulted in 300-plus-yard passing games — over his first eight, he didn't have any — and he's now rushed for at least 80 yards seven times as a Raider.
All About Ader: Bronsen Ader, SOU's 5-foot-11, 200-pound junior receiver who works primarily out of the slot, totaled five catches for 132 yards against the Mountaineers — including receptions of 74, 35 and 21 yards. Going back to last season, Ader has averaged 71 yards on four catches per game in his last eight outings, and the latest was the second 100-yard game of his career. Since the start of 2016, SOU has had at least one 100-yard receiving performance in 11 of its last 12 games.
Defense, Revisited: SOU's defensive unit last week forced EOU to punt eight times, matching the highest total for a Raider opponent in the last two years. The Mountaineers totaled 294 yards of offense, their fewest against the Raiders since 2006 (spanning 15 matchups in-between), and they recorded multiple first-downs on just three of 13 drives. While holding EOU to 4.9 yards per play, the Raiders also forced two turnovers and committed one; last year, they committed 31 turnovers and forced 18. Second-year defensive coordinator James Gravelle spoke during fall camp about the importance of getting pressure without having to bring extra, and in their opening performance defensive end Armando Gauger came through with a pair of sacks. In 2016, it wasn't until SOU's third game that a lineman got in on a sack.
Road History: Since the Raiders joined the Frontier in 2012, they've gone 16-9 in conference road games. They posted a 2-3 mark in 2016, with three of those games decided by five or fewer points. They dropped the last two of those, at C of I and Montana Western, and prior to that stretch had never lost consecutive Frontier road games.