College Sports

Lynx braced to face three straight Top 20 opponents

▪ The Lindenwood University-Belleville Lynx are about to test the old sports axiom which says “if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.”

Coming off their second win of the season, a 42-21 victory at Missouri Baptist Saturday, the Lynx are braced for three teams in a row ranked in the NAIA Top 20. Two those teams are in the top 10, including this week’s opponent, Marian University.

“We’re in for a real difficult stretch in the coming weeks, but you have to line up against teams like this if you want to get better as a program,” said LU-B first-year coach Dale Carlson. “You have to set it up as an opportunity to see how you compare and learn something.”

No. 10 Marian was ranked No. 2 in the NAIA preseason poll after finishing as the national runner up last season. After a Week 2 win, the Knights reached the top spot on the national rankings. LU-Belleville faces No. 19 St. Francis (Ill.) next week, then returns home for an Oct. 31 game with No. 9 Robert Morris.

The Lynx had their best game of the season against Missouri Baptist, putting up 474 yards of total offense.

Missouri Baptist, 0-6 in its second year with a football program, scored once on a turnover and converted a second LU-Belleville fumble into a short-field scoring drive. It put up just 201 yards of offense against the Lynx, including one 51-yard run.

“You always gain something positive out of any win,” Carlson said. “We were really pleased with the way our defense performed. We had some turnovers that led to scores, but really the defense allowed just the one touchdown. The challenge we continue to have is getting the guys to play four full quarters. We get closer, but haven’t done that quite yet.”

We’re in for a real difficult stretch in the coming weeks, but you have to line up against teams like this if you want to get better as a program.

Dale Carlson, LU-B head football coach

▪ Saturday’s game: No. 10 Marian University Knights (4-2) at Lindenwood-Belleville (2-3), 1 p.m.

▪ Series history: This is the first meeting between the team teams.

▪ Last week: The Lynx traveled to Chesterfield, Mo. to get their second win, a 42-21 defeat of Missouri Baptist. Marian recovered from a Week 5 loss to Mid-States Football Association rival and No. 7 ranked St. Francis (Ind.) to defeated Taylor University, 36-23, last week.

Scouting Marian

The Knights boast the nation's third-ranked rushing defense, allowing just 92.7 rushing yards per game. The total defense is ranked 11th in the NAIA (308.5 ypg).

Marian is ranked in the top 20 in the NAIA in 17 categories and has one of the most difficult non-league schedules in the NAIA having played three non-league games against top 25-ranked teams, including three of the first four this season. That doesn’t include a rugged conference schedule. Six of the NAIA's top 10 teams come from the Mid-States Football Association, including the entire top four.

Senior Hayden Northern ranks sixth in the NAIA in pass efficiency (164.0) and is 13th in both passing yards per game (246.7) and total passing (1,480).

Junior Krishawn Hogan ranks third in the NAIA in total receiving yards with 677. In six games this season, Hogan is averaging 112.8 yards per game, which ranks him fifth in the NAIA.

474 Yards of total offense by Lindenwood in win over Missouri Baptist last week

321.8 The Lynx average yards of offense per game

Junior Robert Gibson is ranked 15th in the NAIA in rushing yards per game at 103.3. Last week, he rushed for 124 yards on 24 carries and had one score. He averages 5.6 yards per carry and has eight touchdowns this season.

Scouting LU-Belleville

The Lynx have had their moments in wins over Olivet Nazarene in Week 2 and their three-score win over Missouri Baptist last week. LU-B is still trying to find its way in the MFSA, however, and starting with Marian have three straight conference games against teams ranked in the Top 20.

Offensively, LU-Belleville continue to rely on the same handful. Quarterback Tarean Austin had his best game as a Lynx last week, completing 26-for-39 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns. That figure far eclipsed his season average of 197.2 yards per game.

Walter Jackson caught eight of those passes for 132 yards and a pair of scores. He has five touchdowns on the season. Wide receiver J.T. Washington also has found the end zone twice on eight total catches.

Mostly, the attack has been more balanced, with senior running back Kam Harris leading the way at 83.8 yards per game and three running scores.. Austin is LU-B's second leading rusher with 111 yards and five running touchdowns through five games.

Only two other players on the roster have scored this season, including safety Quincy Foster, who returned an interception for a touchdown.

Defensively, the Lynx are allowing 432.8 yards per game.