NCAA Division III semifinal

 

The matchup: Unbeatens Linfield (Ore.) at St. Thomas; Linfield 12-0, St. Thomas 13-0.

Game info: 2:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Thomas.

Watch: Live stream on ESPN 3.

At stake: The winner advances to the NCAA Division III title game Dec. 18 against the winner of the other semifinal between Mount Union and UW-Whitewater.

St. Thomas update: The Tommies pride themselves on balance between offense, averaging 53.6 points per game, and defense, yielding 9.3. The only other college team averaging more than 50 points and giving up fewer than 10 is Mount Union (55.0, 7.6). Linfield is close, averaging 50.4 points and giving up 10.7…. How dominant have the Tommies been? They haven’t trailed in the second half all season, and have been behind only three times for a total of 22:11 out of 780 minutes. …. UST tailback Jordan Roberts has 31 TDs, one away from the MIAC single-season record. The running back has rushed for 1,701 yards, 161 yards away from the school single-season record held by Gary Trettel. … QB John Gould is 17-1 as a starter and has passed for 2,796 yards and 25 TDs this season, with only 10 interceptions. … OT David Simmet is one of four finalists for the Gagliardi Award, given to the national Division III player of the year.

Linfield update: Linfield has the longest streak of consecutive winning seasons in all of college football at 60. …. The Wildcats won the 2004 Division III title and are making their seventh straight postseason appearance. Linfield is 24-10 in Division III playoff games since leaving the NAIA for the NCAA in 2002, and has never lost a postseason Division III game by more than 15 points. … Junior QB Sam Riddle didn’t play in last Saturday’s 38-35 quarterfinal victory over Mary Hardin-Baylor because of a sprained ankle and is questionable against St. Thomas. Riddle has passed for 2,259 yards and 29 TDs this season, with only five interceptions. Senior Tom Knecht has been a capable replacement, passing for 492 yards and five TDs last week to rally the Wildcats from an early 21-0 deficit. … Senior defensive end Alex Hoff tied the school record with his 38th career sack last Saturday; Hoff was a Division III All-America last season.

Game key: Can Linfield’s smallish defensive line — averaging of 248 pounds per player — hold its own against the St. Thomas offensive front, which averages 306 pounds per player?

Did you know? Twelve current St. Thomas players participated in the 2012 Division III title game, losing 28-10 to Mount Union. Mount Union plays UW-Whitewater on Saturday in the other Division III semifinal game.

Dennis Brackin