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SOU to host MidAmerican Nazarene in first round of NAIAs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time in 12 years, the NAIA Football Championship Series is returning to Raider Stadium next Saturday for round one of the 16-team playoff.

Southern Oregon University (9-2) woke up Sunday to a No. 8 ranking in the NAIA top 25 — a four-spot dip as a result of Saturday’s 31-27 loss to Eastern Oregon — which put the Raiders in line to host the ninth-ranked MidAmerican Nazarene (Kan.) Pioneers.

Tickets will go on sale and a kickoff time will be announced Tuesday morning. Fans will be able to purchase tickets online at souraiders.com/tickets. Season tickets and other passes are not valid for the NAIA playoffs.

The Pioneers (9-1), who shared the Heart of America Athletic Conference championship, will ride a six-game win streak into Ashland for their 12th all-time NAIA FCS appearance. They’ve never played the Raiders head-to-head in any sport.

The Raiders last went to the postseason in 2012, making a run to the quarterfinals that ended with an overtime loss at Morningside (Iowa). They received an at-large bid for the fifth NAIA FCS appearance.

SOU is 4-0 in the first round but has never made it past the second.

The Raider offense will face a defense that ranks fourth in the NAIA in points allowed per game (15.6) and has held three of its last five opponents to seven points or less. The Pioneers also rank fifth in passing yards allowed per game (139.6).

MidAmerican Nazarene’s only loss was at Central Methodist, which finished with a record of 5-6. The Pioneers went 3-0 against ranked opponents this season but is No. 23 in the Hensley power rankings, which has them with the 50th-toughest schedule in the NAIA.