Western Pennsylvania district college football preview
Game of the week
Chicago at Carnegie Mellon
1 p.m. Saturday
Carnegie Mellon needs to win one of its final two games to secure its 36th consecutive regular season of finishing at least .500. The team is 252-95-4 during that stretch and hasn't had a losing season since finishing 3-5 in 1974.
The Tartans have come close the past two weeks, losing a pair of games in overtime. Two weeks ago, it dropped a 27-21 decision to No. 7 Wittenberg, then fell, 20-13, at Washington (Mo.) in last week's University Athletic Association opener. It'll be in another fight this week against a Chicago team coming off a 24-20 upset of then-No. 23 Case Western Reserve.
Carnegie Mellon will lean on the No. 13 rushing attack in Division III, which averages 262.9 yards per game. Justin Pratt, Jake Nardone, Patrick Blanks, Jared Delello and Chris Garcia have combined to rush for 1,847 yards and 24 touchdowns.
The Tartans have won the time-of-possession battle in their past six games behind their effective running, but the Maroons are giving up just 109.1 yards on the ground per game. The Tartans' running attack will be key to keeping Chicago's offense, which averages 30.4 points, on the sideline.
History is on Carnegie Mellon's side: Chicago has lost 18 of 22 in the series and hasn't won in Pittsburgh since 2000.
Others to watch
West Liberty at Seton Hill
3 p.m. Saturday
The magic number is 499.
West Liberty senior Zach Amedro needs to throw for 499 yards in his final two games to become the Division II career leader in passing yards.
Considering he has thrown for at least 400 yards in the past four games, Amedro should make it by the end of the season -- and he could get there Saturday. He has thrown for 13,852 yards; the record is 14,350 by Jimmy Terwilliger of East Stroudsburg from 2003-06.
Amedro will look for his favorite target, Ryan Travis. The senior has 101 catches for 1,109 yards and 12 touchdowns. Travis' 270 career receptions are No. 2 in WVIAC history, and his 3,035 career receiving yards set a school record.
California (Pa.) at Edinboro
1 p.m. Saturday
At the beginning of this season, this game was shaping up to be a pseudo-PSAC West championship game. Now, only one of these teams even has a shot at the title.
After rallying from a 15-0 deficit to beat Indiana (Pa.) in overtime last week, the Vulcans need a win and a Mercyhurst loss to get to the PSAC championship game. More importantly, a loss would hurt their NCAA playoff hopes.
Edinboro's offense has been effective in the past two weeks. Redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Harris has thrown for more than 200 yards in three of the past four contests. For the Fighting Scots to have a chance, he'll need to make plays through the air because the Vulcans have the PSAC's best run defense, allowing 73.6 yards per game.
No. 9/10 Thomas More at Waynesburg
1:30 p.m. Saturday
Riding a four-game winning streak, Waynesburg can make a run at the PAC title but will have to end the Saints' 20-game regular-season winning streak.
The Yellow Jackets must slow the Thomas More offense, which is averaging 37.9 points. That'll start with sophomore defensive back Bryan Gary: The Shaler grad has three interceptions in the past two games and returned two of them for scores.
A win would give Thomas More its third straight outright PAC title.
Player to watch
FB Justin Pratt, Carnegie Mellon (6-0, 215 pounds, senior) — Of the five Tartans backs, Pratt is the workhorse. The Bethel Park product has gotten almost 40 more carries than any other running back and is averaging 64.8 yards. Pratt ranks No. 14 on the Carnegie Mellon career rushing yardage list with 1,292; he'll need to get rolling for the Tartans to be effective against Chicago.
• California (Pa.) has won two overtime games after not reaching overtime since 2003.
• Slippery Rock sophomore Akeem Satterfield needs 70 yards in the final two games to become the 23rd player in school history to rush for 1,000 in a season.
• Clarion's Robert Mamula and Gannon's Jeremy Ditzler each hit a 50-yard field goal last week. According to available PSAC records, it was the first time in PSAC history that opposing kickers made a field goal of at least 50 yards in the same game.
• Indiana (Pa.) coach Lou Tepper is 0-4 in his quest for 100 career wins. This week will be his best chance yet: The Crimson Hawks host Lock Haven, who have lost 20 straight games.
• With their fifth straight win last week, Washington & Jefferson clinched its 27th consecutive winning season.
• This week, St. Vincent will go for its first victory over Westminster (Pa.) since 1949. A win would be St. Vincent's first in New Wilmington.