Both the University of Charleston and West Virginia State find themselves on the road this week and possibly up against their toughest opponents to date.
While the Jackets may face the fiercer team, UC may be in the more important game.
Charleston (2-0) will kick off its last tour of duty in the West Virginia Conference with a showdown at defending conference champion Concord (1-1), while State, fresh off a 77-0 beating at the hands of North Carolina A&T State, will travel to its second-straight Division I FCS opponent when it takes on Elon, N.C.
Charleston is slated to kick off at 1 p.m. today while the Jackets will begin at 3 p.m.
While the UC game on paper should be a big-time conference clash, injuries on both sides may have more to do with the outcome than either team could have envisioned.
Quarterback Maurice Leak and running back Jordan Roberts were each sidelined in UC's 33-14 win over St. Joseph last Thursday. Roberts said he'll play today but has been limited in practice, as has Leak. Backup quarterback John Knox will be prepared to take snaps today if needed.
Knox looked good against St. Joseph, going 5 for 12 with 140 yards and two touchdowns, as did a stable of running backs.
UC coach Pat Kirkland is confident in his team, whoever is on the field.
"This was the expectation, we wanted to be 2-0," Kirkland said. "We're excited to be here, but there are some things we've got to get corrected. The biggest thing is coming out of the gates strong. The effort is there, the enthusiasm is there, we've got to do a better job of our heart and our head meeting halfway. Sometimes there's too much of one and not enough of the other, but when we find that balance we're a pretty good football team."
Pride will also be on the line for UC as the Mountain Lions strolled into University of Charleston Stadium in the third week last year and laid a 38-15 loss on the Golden Eagles en route to the conference title.
While most would agree that this year's UC squad more closely resembles the team from the second half of last year (5-1) than the first half (0-5), Kirkland admitted today's contest would be a tough one.
"They're the defending champions of our conference and they went to the NCAA playoffs last year," Kirkland said. "We've got to play our best game in order to put ourselves in a position to win. They are very balanced offensively."
Most of that Concord balance flowed through senior quarterback Zack Grossi, who has completed 47 of 80 passes for 507 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on the season.
But a severe car crash on Monday not only put the Mountain Lion quarterback on the shelf this week, it has also ended his playing career.
Grossi, who injured his leg and suffered other minor injuries, should be able to recover enough to live a normal life and is expected to be on the sidelines to lend support on today.