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SOU squares off with Azusa Pacific

Southern Oregon University might be facing a must-win situation when it visits Southern California for today's football game against Azusa Pacific University.

After beginning the season 1-3, the Raiders' NAIA playoff hopes reside in a good showing against the 12th-ranked Cougars.

Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. at Cougar Stadium on the Azusa campus. The live radio broadcast on KCMX-880 begins at 5:30 p.m.

The Raiders have advanced to the NAIA quarterfinals in each of the past two years ' losing to Carroll College, Mont., both times in the 16-team playoff.

— Southern Oregon has never lost to Azusa in four meetings dating back to 1999. Azusa has won seven straight home games since SOU's last road victory against the Cougars ' a 64-21 affair in 2001.

Southern Oregon defeated the Cougars 17-14 last year at Raider Stadium on Steve Baker's 38-yard field goal with 28 seconds remaining.

Azusa had an eight-game overall and four-game road winning streak snapped with a 21-7 setback at Humboldt State last week.

Southern Oregon lost to Humboldt 31-10 on Sept. 27.

The Southern Oregon offense is built around senior running back Dusty McGrorty, who now owns 12 school records.

McGrorty leads the nation with an average of 212 rushing yards per game.

Azusa features 6-foot-1, 230-pound sophomore running back Ben Buys, who benefits from an offensive line that averages 286 pounds.

Sophomore quarterback Sean Davis directs a high-percentage passing attack, with senior Jon Miller as the leading target (17 catches, 260 yards, two TDs).

The Cougar defense, which has limited opponents to 86 rushing yards per contest and 339 overall, is spearheaded by senior All-American linemen Nick Tavaglione (6-0, 260) and Anthony Diggs (6-0, 230).

They're very big, strong and physical up front, Southern Oregon eighth-year coach Jeff Olson said, and (Buys) is a very productive back. Their defensive line is the best we'll see.