Football | Thursday, April 15, 2010
Bearcats Announce 2010 Football Schedule
SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University football Head Coach Mark Speckman has announced the 2010 schedule for the Bearcats. The schedule features four home games and six games on the road.
It's a very challenging schedule with traditional NCAA Division III powers from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Hardin-Simmons University and Linfield College, plus in-state NAIA rival Southern Oregon University. And that's just the first four weeks!
Willamette will open the season on Sept. 4 at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Game time has not yet been determined. The Bearcats finished the 2009 season ranked #24 in the NCAA Division III Top 25 poll released by D3Football.com, while UW-Stevens Point was not ranked, but received points in the poll.
Last year, Willamette finished the year with an 8-2 overall record (5-1 NWC, 2nd place), giving the Bearcats a combined 19-3 (.950) mark the past two season. UW-Stevens Point was 7-3 in 2009.
"It really places a premium on our guys working hard during the summer and coming in ready to go," Speckman said about playing at Stevens Point and having four difficult games early in the schedule. "We don't have much time to prepare."
After traveling to Wisconsin, the Bearcats will return to Oregon for less than a week before taking on Hardin-Simmons in Abilene, Texas, on Sept. 11. Game time is set for 4 p.m. (6 p.m. Central).
The pair of lengthy road trips to start the season poses its own special challenges.
"They're particularly tough because of the early season travel and because it cuts down on our practice time," Speckman commented. "The weather also could be a factor. We might play in weather that we're not used to in the Pacific Northwest. And the teams we're playing are very good, which makes it a very, very stiff challenge. But to win the league championship we need to play well on the road and I think this will help prepare us."
WU will play its first home game of 2010 on Sept. 18 against Southern Oregon University from the NAIA. The action will get underway at 1:30 p.m. (PDT) at McCulloch Stadium, where the Bearcats are 41-23 (.641) since 1998.
The next week provides an open date for the Bearcats. It is the first time in several seasons that the Bearcats will not play at least one game against an NCAA Division III opponent from California during the pre-conference portion of the schedule.
"It's unfortunate that we weren't able to get anybody from Southern California to play us," Speckman said.
WU will have two weeks to prepare for the beginning of Northwest Conference play on Oct. 2 against defending champion Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore. (1:30 p.m. PDT). Linfield reached the NCAA Division III semifinals in 2009 and finished the year at 12-1 (6-0 NWC).
The remainder of the schedule includes five NWC games and a non-conference matchup against Menlo College, which has been a member of the NWC in football only, but is leaving the league this year.
Willamette will play at Pacific University on Oct. 9, before hosting the University of Puget Sound on Oct. 16 and Menlo on Oct. The Bearcats will play at Whitworth University on Oct. 30, take on Lewis & Clark College at McCulloch Stadium on Nov. 6, and close out the regular season at Pacific Lutheran University on Nov. 13.
Overall, the schedule is demanding, especially with two long-distance trips early in the season and with six of the 10 games on the road.
"It's the type of schedule that's very ambitious," Speckman said. "It's the first time since I've been here as coach that we haven't had the same number of home and away games, so that's different. But it's also the kind of schedule that lets us get where we want to go and to make a run at the NWC championship and beyond."