UPS LOGGERS GAMEDAY
PUGET SOUND (0-5) at WHITWORTH (5-2)
1 p.m. PDT, Pine Bowl, Spokane
The series: Whitworth leads, 37-25-1, and enjoys the longest winning streak either school has had in the rivalry – 16 games. The Pirates rallied for a 30-24 win over UPS last season in Tacoma.
What to watch: Coming out of a second bye week, the Loggers got a couple of things accomplished: One, fix the wounded as QB Braden Foley (97 of 177, 1,334 yards, 11 TDs) returns after missing one game from a concussion, and SS Matt Gilbert (hamstring) nears full health; and two, move three offensive players, including WR Ryan Rogers, to the defensive side to create depth. Rogers will now serve as Gilbert’s backup. And that UPS defense has had two weeks to prepare for Whitworth RB Ronnie Thomas (185 carries, 778 yards, eight TDs), whom Loggers coach Jeff Thomas considers the best tailback in the conference, and should get 25-30 touches in the game. UPS gives up a NWC-worst 323.0 rushing yards per game to opponents, making this the integral matchup of the game. If the Loggers cannot slow Thomas and company, it likely won’t matter how many times Foley can connect with WR Adam Kniffin (44 catches, 731 yards, 10 TDs) in the high-powered passing game. Freshman Austin Wagner will start at running back for UPS in place of injured Kupuno Park (knee).
What’s at stake: The Loggers would do just about anything to say goodbye to a pair of long, long skids – in this series (16) and overall (15 in a row since 2010).
TNT pick: Whitworth, 49-35