It is believed that in the 56-year history of NAIA football, no program has ever knocked off two No. 1 teams back-to-back.
Saint Francis has that opportunity this Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Cougars are coming off a 25-13 victory over then-No. 1 Saint Xavier two weeks ago. Following a bye, Saint Francis (4-1, 2-0 MSFA Mideast) now has its eyes on another conference foe, top-ranked Marian (5-0, 2-0) on the road.
“We have a little shot at making a little history,” Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley said.
In the 15 years of Saint Francis football, the Cougars are 1-4 against NAIA No. 1 teams, with the lone win coming two weeks ago.
Could the program make it two straight?
“I think we have a good chance if we keep playing the way we have been playing,” senior nose tackle Lance Carey said. “We proved to people and ourselves that we could go on the road and beat a good team (in Saint Xavier), so we have that confidence.”
Many would believe that Donley would have less concerns going on the road a second time to face the No. 1 team, but that would involve Donley having concerns in the first place.
“I felt comfortable when we went to Saint Xavier and I feel comfortable going into Saturday,” Donley said. “We just worry about the controllable factors of the game, and if we play to the best of our ability we will be happy with that.”
The Cougars will have to play their best Saturday against a Marian team that is big and physical up front. Winning the line of scrimmage will be key if Saint Francis is going to make history.
“It will be one of the bigger offensive lines we see,” Carey said.
Marian quarterback Adam Wiese is completing passes at an incredible 74 percent clip (103-138) for 1,198 yards and 13 touchdowns. Running back Tevin Lake is also a threat in the backfield with 676 yards and eight scores.
“They have a lot of weapons and we just need to account for them,” Carey said.
While Saint Francis may go down in the record books with a victory on Saturday, Marian is not the only thing on the players’ minds.
“It is a big game, but it is a big deal for the conference and for getting more confidence for the playoffs,” Carey said.