|#24 Hillsdale (3-1, 4-1) at Findlay (3-1, 4-1)
For the second straight week, the Chargers travel to Central Ohio. They proved last week that they’re more than capable of playing well away from home, and have shown a much more physical slant to their game than what many might expect. Physicality is typically one of the hallmarks of a Findlay club, and they’ll need to find a way to outmuscle an HC bunch that of late as seemed intent on simply running over their opponents.
– Keep the Train on the Tracks – Back-to-back career weeks for RB Vinnie Panizzi isn’t an indictment of the passing HC game. Rather, I think this is something that the Chargers have needed and now that they have it they’re smart to keep it going until someone proves they can stop it. Findlay’s rush defense is decent, but I wouldn’t call it a “strength”. I’m looking for the Chargers to keep things on the ground a bunch yet again, and sprinkle in enough Weatherhead aerials to keep the Oilers off-balance.
– Avoid the Letdown/Trap – Last week was a big win on the road against an opponent that HC LOVES to beat. If the Chargers play like that, they can hang with darn near anyone. With Grand Valley visiting Muddy Waters next week, HC must not get caught up in feeling good about what they did against Ashland and looking ahead to the tilt with the Lakers.
– Get out Fast – I know I say that a lot, but it absolutely applies. Hillsdale has the majority of its success when it can do what it wants on offense and dictate tempo. If UF can get an early advantage at home and put pressure on the Chargers to move away from what they want to do it obviously slants almost everything in the Oilers’ favor.
– Play Loose – Let’s face it, UF has already won twice as many games this year as they did all of last year. Hillsdale has been darn close to a playoff berth for the last couple of years and they want to get over that hump pretty badly. With a loss already on their record, the margin for error moving forward for the Chargers is slim. In short, all the pressure is on HC to perform as UF has already surpassed what most had expected of them. The Oilers should come out loose and play like they have nothing to lose.
Prediction – I said in my season preview that I had Hillsdale as my dark horse. With the exception of the heartbreaker in Midland a few weeks ago they’ve done a fine job of backing up my hunch. That said, this game just SCREAMS trap (if that can be the case when facing a 4-1 team) and the Chargers haven’t always handled these situations well over the last couple of years – hence, they’re falling short of the playoff field by only a game or two. With that said, HC has played a different brand of ball of late and have looked a bit more impervious to this sort of thing. Also, let’s not forget that while UF has looked solid thus far only one of their victories has come against a team that’s .500 or better. I’ll stick with my pre-season hunch and roll with the Chargers.
Hillsdale 34, Findlay 20.