With three games remaining in the regular season, the Duquesne football team is in an advantageous position. Atop the Northeast Conference standings, the Dukes have a regular-season championship in sight as long as they win their remaining two conference games.
The first of those contests is a road game today against a surprising Sacred Heart team that is 8-2 after finishing 2-9 last season. The Dukes have won six of the past eight meetings, including last season’s lopsided 35-3 win at home.
Duquesne has been aided largely by its defense, a unit that ranks seventh in Division II in total defense, giving up an average of 303.1 yards per game. Since a 59-17 loss Sept. 21 to Youngstown State, the Dukes have given up an average of just 238 yards in the past five games.
The defense will be challenged by the Pioneers, who average 37.1 points per game. Much like Duquesne with Dillon Buechel, Sacred Heart has a standout redshirt freshman quarterback in RJ Noel, who has thrown for 1,772 yards, 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Robert Morris (4-4, 2-1) at Central Connecticut State (4-5, 2-1), noon, Arute Field — The Colonials enter an NEC matchup with the Blue Devils having won their past two games, their first winning streak of the season, largely because of takeaways. Robert Morris forced seven combined turnovers in its victories against Wagner (three) and Bryant (four). The Colonials are 8-1 in the past nine games in which they’ve forced at least three turnovers.
Slippery Rock (8-1, 5-1) at Seton Hill (0-9, 0-6), 12:30 p.m., Offutt Field — What would otherwise be a meaningless game between a first-place team and a winless one carries extra meaning. If The Rock wins, it clinches an outright PSAC West title and a berth in the conference championship game against Bloomsburg or West Chester.
Mercyhurst (5-4, 3-3) at California (6-3, 4-2), 3:30 p.m., Adamson Stadium — Last season, the Lakers defeated the Vulcans, 40-7, which was California’s worst loss to a PSAC opponent since 2003. With a victory, the Vulcans would at least finish in a tie for second in the PSAC West.
Gannon (5-4, 4-2) at IUP (7-2, 4-2), 1 p.m., George P. Miller Stadium — The Crimson Hawks have won the past two matchups between the teams, including a 35-7 victory last season. This game will have some kind of implication, as the winner will remain in contention for a potential PSAC West title, though it also would need Slippery Rock to lose.
Geneva (5-3, 4-2) at Washington & Jefferson (6-2, 5-1), 7 p.m., Cameron Stadium — Both teams need a win to hold on to any hope of a PAC championship, though the Presidents are in better shape. With a win today and one the next week against Waynesburg, Washington & Jefferson would earn the program’s 23rd PAC championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs.
Bethany (3-5, 3-3) at Thomas More (7-1, 6-1), 1 p.m., Bank of Kentucky Field — The Bison have lost their past two games, but have the top passing offense in the PAC, averaging 318.5 yards per game through the air.
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.