With Shepherd (6-0, 5-0) rising to 11th in the latest AFCA poll, the Rams continue their march toward an unblemished season at noon against Notre Dame College (3-3, 2-2).
The Rams' calling card clearly has been defense, as opponents have scored just 64 points over six games. The Rams lead Division II in rushing defense (23.5 yards allowed) and third-down conversions (19.5 percent), and are second in total yardage defense (253.5). Also, they are fourth in pass efficiency defense (92.75 rating).
West Liberty's defense isn't far behind Shepherd in several defensive categories, and is first in one - red-zone defense. Opponents are scoring just 45.5 percent of their forays inside the Hilltoppers' 20-yard line.
Playing at home, the Hilltoppers (3-3, 3-1) will be tested by the offense of Urbana (4-2, 4-1), and by quarterback D.J. Mendenhall. Mendenhall is fourth in Division II in passing touchdowns (20) and passing yards per game (342.0), seventh in points responsible for (128) and 10th in total offense (344.8).
In the other two MEC games, Virginia-Wise (0-6, 0-4) visits Glenville State (2-4, 2-3) while West Virginia Wesleyan (2-4, 2-3) goes to Concord (4-2, 3-1).
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.