PFL Weekly Report: Nov. 4
San Diego's Mason Mills has thrown 28 touchdown passes in 2013, ranking fourth among FCS quarterbacks. (Photo courtesy San Diego Athletic Media Relations)
San Diego's Mason Mills has thrown 28 touchdown passes in 2013, ranking fourth among FCS quarterbacks. (Photo courtesy San Diego Athletic Media Relations)

Monday, November 4, 2013
by Cody Bush, PFL Media Relations


TOP TEAMS LOOK TO AVOID PITFALLS IN WEEK 11 | With six teams within one game of the PFL lead, Week 11 becomes all about avoiding a pitfall. The league’s three co-leaders each face a test against a team in the lower half of the league standings: San Diego will make a return trip east to face Morehead State while Butler hosts Valparaiso and Marist travels to Campbell. Mercer, sitting one-half game back, faces a stern test when it hosts Jacksonville while looking to maintain a perfect mark at home. The game to watch is likely the battle of the league’s two 4-2 squads when Dayton travels to Drake.  In other action, Davidson revives an old rivalry when it travels to Stetson.

Saturday, Nov. 9
  Marist at Campbell, 1 p.m.
Location: Buies Creek, N.C. (Barker-Lane Stadium)
Series: MAR leads, 3-1    Streak: MAR, one win
Last Season: Marist defeated Campbell, 28-7
Notably: Marist will make its season’s final road trip when it treks to North Carolina for the second time this season to face Campbell. The Red Foxes won a wild 42-35 affair against Jacksonville in Week 10, the 42 tallies one shy of their season high and the third time they have topped 40 points (3-0 in those games). The Camels secured their season’s first win – and snapped a 14-game PFL losing streak – with a furious fourth-quarter rally to win a 19-18 decision at Stetson in Week 10.

  San Diego at Morehead State, 1 p.m.
Location: Morehead, Ky. (Jayne Stadium)
Series: SAN leads, 8-0    Streak: SAN, eight wins
Last Season: San Diego defeated Morehead State, 41-28
Notably: San Diego will make its second consecutive trip eastward when it travels to Morehead State. The Toreros defense had held consecutive opponents to 14 points and an average of 363 offensive yards while quarterback Mason Mills has tossed nine touchdowns. The Eagles offense has been stymied during its two-game losing streak, scoring only 14 points in each game and averaging just 227.5 yards per outing. 

  Valparaiso at Butler, 1 p.m.
Location: Indianapolis, Ind. (Butler Bowl)
Series: BUT leads, 47-24    Streak: BUT, five wins
Last Season: Butler defeated Valparaiso, 56-17
Notably: Valparaiso and Butler will face off for the Hoosier Helmet Trophy, which Butler has won in six of the past seven seasons. The Crusaders have been victimized this season by big runs, surrendering at least a 16-point burst in each loss of its current five-game losing streak. The Bulldogs needed a 24-point run to post its come-from behind victory at Dayton to stay tied atop the PFL leaderboard.
Saturday, Nov. 9

  Dayton at Drake, 2 p.m.
Location: Des Moines, Iowa (Drake Stadium)
Series: DAY leads, 24-5    Streak: DAY, one win
Last Season: Dayton defeated Drake, 28-13
Notably: Dayton visits Drake with both teams in need of a win to keep pace with the lead pack. The Flyers have not lost on the road in PFL action this season, but will need to bounce back from a home loss in Week 10. The Bulldogs have won 15 straight home contests in PFL play, including a Week 10 win against Morehead State. Dayton has scored 30-plus points in five straight games while Drake’s defense has not allowed more than 24 in its last five games.

  Davidson at Stetson, 3 p.m.
Location: DeLand, Fla. (Martin Stadium)
Series: DAV leads, 3-1    Streak: DAV, three wins
Last Meeting: Davidson defeated Stetson, 43-7 (1956)
Notably: Davidson will revive an old series when it travels to Stetson for the first meeting between the two teams since 1956. Last week, the Wildcats scored a season-best 26 points and put a scare into Mercer before fading late. The Hatters surrendered two touchdowns in the final 5:12 against Campbell to see a chance at ending their seven-game losing streak evaporate.

  Jacksonville at Mercer, 3 p.m.
Location: Macon, Ga. (University Stadium)
Series: First Meeting
Notably: Jacksonville will make the four-hour trip northward to meet Mercer in the first-ever meeting between the two teams. The Dolphins suffered only their second loss this season when scoring 35 or more points when they suffered a 42-35 loss at Marist in Week 10 that dropped them to 1-4 on the road in 2013. The Bears are unbeaten (6-0) at home this season and a 51-26 victory at Davidson in Week 10 gave it a four-game win streak for the second time this season.


THE ROAD TO FRISCO | For the first time, the PFL regular-season champion will receive an automatic bid into the Division I Football Championship. The championship will expand to 24 teams this season with 11 automatic bids and 13 at-large berths. The football selection committee will select eight national seeds, which will receive a first-round bye. The remaining 16 teams will be placed into the bracket’s first round spots with an emphasis on geographical proximity.

BUTLER TAKEAWAYS | Butler’s defense has been one of the nation’s best at generating takeaways this season, ranking second nationally with 26 takeaways this season. The Bulldogs rank behind only Sacred Heart (32) in the category and have six more than any other PFL team. Butler also ranks 11th nationally with a plus-0.9 turnover margin that also leads the PFL.

RED FOXES ON THE HUNT | Marist’s defense has been on the hunt for sacks during the 2013 campaign, finding the opposition’s quarterback 29 times. The Red Foxes 3.22 sacks per game average leads the PFL and ranks seventh nationally. They are led by senior defensive end Terrence Fede who ranks second nationally and leads the PFL with 1.2 sacks per game.

SAN DIEGO AIR CONTROL | San Diego and senior quarterback Mason Mills have been a model of passing efficiency this season. With Mills leading the passing attack, the Toreros rank 10th nationally in completion percentage (a PFL best 66.0 percent) and passing offense (320.1 yards per game). Those numbers help San Diego post a team pass efficiency rating of 168.13 which ranks fifth nationally. Individually, Mills ranks among the nation’s leaders in passing touchdowns (4th, 28), completion percentage (65.8, 14th), passing yards per game (310.9, 8th) and passing efficiency (168.2, 6th)

BEARS CONTROL THE GROUND | Mercer is one of the nation’s best teams when it comes to controlling the ground. The Bears defense ranks eighth nationally, holding opponents to 102.6 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, the Mercer offense is rolling up 292.3 yards per game, a rate that also is second best in the country – behind only Cal Poly’s 295.8 yard per game rate.

MERCER UNBLEMISHED AT HOME | Mercer improved to 6-0 at University Stadium with its Week 8 non-conference victory against Carnegie Mellon. The Bears are one of 27 FCS teams with an unbeaten mark in their home facility this season. However, they are one of only three teams with a 6-0 mark at home. Mercer has two more home games this season: this weekend against Jacksonville and Nov. 23 against Stetson.

ROOKIES DOMINATE PFL’S PUNTING FRATERNITY | Freshmen hold down the punting duties at half of the PFL’s programs this season and are representing themselves well through seven weeks. San Diego’s Ryan Belden leads the group and the league with a 43.9 yard per punt average that ranks ninth among FCS punters. Four other PFL freshman punters rank among the league’s top 10 in punting average.

NO SHUTTING OUT DAYTON | Dayton continues one of the more remarkable streaks in college football, entering this weekend with a NCAA record streak of 417 games without suffering a shutout. The last team to blank Dayton was Marshall by a 9-0 score on Oct. 16, 1976. San Diego owns the PFL’s second longest such streak at 147 games.

TWO PFL FRESHMEN NAMED TO RICE AWARD WATCH LIST | Stetson safety Donald Payne and Mercer running back Payton Usher were two of 20 freshman named to the initial watch list for the 2013 Rice Award, presented by The Sports Network. Named for the legendary wide receiver, who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State, the Rice Award will be voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season.