The Lindenwood University-Belleville Lynx hit the road Saturday for their second of three football games against teams ranked in the Top 20 of the NAIA.
This week, it's St. Francis (Ill.) Fighting Saints, 5-2 overall and ranked No. 20 on the most recent national poll. LU-B is coming off a 69-13 loss to No. 10 Marian and next week will face No. 9 Robert Morris at home.
St. Francis did not earn a pre-season ranking, but worked its way into the top 20 with wins over Robert Morris, Concordia (Mich.) and St. Ambrose. The Fighting Saints' five-game winning streak was stopped last week by a 24-20 home loss to Truman State, which competes at the NCAA Division-II level.
They had just 215 yards of total offense, but stayed in the game the way they usually do — with turnovers. St. Francis has a plus-2.4 turnover margin, which is third best in the NAIA.
SATURDAY'S GAME: Lindenwood-Belleville (2-4) at No. 20 University of St. Francis (5-2), 1 p.m.
SERIES HISTORY: St. Francis has won each of the teams' previous two meetings, most recently defeating the Lynx 40-7 last season.
Scouting the Lynx
Lindenwood-Belleville's first year in the Mid-States Football Association has been a rough one. So far, the Lynx have faced two nationally ranked teams with at least two more yet ahead. In the previous two games, the LU-B defense has surrendered a total of 143 points (71.5 points per game).
The Lynx defense has intercepted nine passes and picked up two fumbles, but the offense has turned the ball over more. St. Francis, meanwhile, ranks fourth in the nation in scoring defense at just 14.6 points per game. The Lynx, at 46.7 points per game allowed, ranks No. 79 of 85 NAIA teams.
LU-B has had its moments offensively, particularly behind senior running back Kam Harris, the Althoff graduate and school's all-time leading rusher, who averages 100 yards of total offense per game.
Tarean Austin is the Lynx's top passer, having completed 46 percent of 198 attempts for 1,078 yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He's also been an effective runner in leading hit team with five touchdowns.
Scouting St. Francis
The Fighting Saints offense averages 23.9 points per game, which ranks No. 52 in NAIA. That's just there spots in front of LU-B which averaged 23 points even.
Quarterback Don Butkus is efficient if not spectacular. He's thrown for 1,258 yards on 53.4 percent accuracy, while completing 11 passes for touchdowns against six interceptions. He's also been sacked just six times through seven games.
John Magee is the leading ball carrier with 483 net yards on 120 carries and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Jean Pietrzak has 20 receptions, eight of them for touchdowns.
Defense is the St. Francis calling card, however. The Fighting Saints rank No. 4 in scoring defense at 14.3 points per game allowed. Their 28 take-aways, which tops in NAIA, is a factor. They also rank sixth in rushing defense (97.7 yards per game), and 16th in total defense (316.6).