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The Lakeland College football team will be in for a challenge when it faces undefeated and nationally ranked Concordia University Chicago on Saturday at noon at Concordia Stadium in River Forest, Ill.
-Lakeland and Concordia are meeting for the 37th time in the history of the series between the two schools. The Muskies lead the all-time series 24-12, but the Cougars have won four straight meetings, including last year's 21-7 win on the road at Lakeland in which Dylan Van Straten hit Logan Hughley for a 14-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter before Concordia scored three unanswered touchdowns and shut out the Muskies the rest of the game. Prior to Concordia's streak in the series, Lakeland won 13 straight against the Cougars from 1995-2007 and 21 of 23 matchups dating back to 1985.
-Lakeland is coming off of a disappointing 56-17 loss to Aurora last week. The Muskies committed four turnovers, including three in the first half, and the Spartans scored on five straight drives in the second half to pull away while piling up 709 yards of offense for the game. Norman Grinstead provided a highlight with a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Dylan Van Straten carried the ball 20 times for 92 yards and a score. On defense freshman cornerback Logan Christensen came up with his third interception of the season and Cody Lemke led the team with 12 tackles from a safety spot.
-Concordia continued to roll last week, defeating Benedictine 26-13. The Cougars scored 19 unanswered points in the second half to respond after trailing 13-7 at halftime, remaining undefeated overall and in the Northern Athletics Conference. Concordia has moved up to No. 2 in the latest NCAA Division III North Region ranking, and the Cougars are also 22nd this week in the Division III Top 25 Coaches' Poll. Concordia Chicago is looking for its first-ever trip to the Division III national playoffs and its first unbeaten season since 1937.
-Van Straten has picked up his production on the ground recently for the Muskies, rushing for 328 yards over the last four games. He has moved up to second on the team in rushing yards on the season, and his 411 yards running have him ranked ninth in the NAC in rushing yards. Lakeland as a team has improved offensively in its last four games, averaging 345 yards over its last four games after averaging just 165.3 yards in its first four games, and the Muskies actually rank fifth in the NAC in scoring at just over 20 points per game.
-Concordia features a high-powered and multi-dimensional offense that has threats to run, throw and catch the ball. Quarterback Jacob Koehler is second in the NAC in passing yards (1,840) and fifth in the conference with 596 rushing yards, making him easily the conference's leader in total offense. Running back Andrew Maddox also leads the conference in rushing with 849 yards through eight games, and his 11 touchdowns also pace the NAC. Finally, receiver Jamal Thomas ranks second in the conference in receiving yards (701) and is tied for the conference lead in touchdown receptions with 10. In all the Cougars lead the NAC and rank 21st nationally in Division III averaging 472.5 yards total offense per game.
-One area where Lakeland has consistently bettered its opponents this year is in time of possession. The Muskies are holding the ball for an average of 31:20 per game, or more than 2 1/2 minutes more than their opponents. Lakeland ranks 67th of 239 schools in NCAA Division III in time of possession. Of course, time of possession maybe reflects a team's playing style as much as it does production. The team ranked last in Division III in time of possession? Concordia Chicago, which possesses the ball an average of just 27:13 per game.
-Live audio and video of the game will be available at http://www.cuchicago.edu/live. Live stats will also be available at http://www.sidearmstats.com/cuchicago/football/xlive.htm.