The final game of the 2017 regular season has been the most anticipated Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) game since the season began, inevitably a game that would have massive conference implications. Through ten weeks of the regular season, the implications could not be any greater as Findlay travels to Ohio Dominican on Saturday, Nov. 11 in a winner-take-all conference championship game. The contest will kick off at noon in Columbus, Ohio.
The Oilers have not fared well against the Panthers. In five matchups, Findlay has just a 1-4 record with the only victory coming in 2011. The two teams met last year in the second week of the season with Ohio Dominican coming away with a 49-37 victory.
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Video streaming for the contest will be provided by UFTV and the Great Midwest Network.
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Head Coach Rob Keys
Head coach Rob Keys is in his seventh season at the helm of the Oilers football program in 2017. He has recorded a 47-28 record with the program as a head coach, which includes a 37-26 mark in conference games. With the Week 7 win over Hillsdale, Keys secured his sixth winning season in seven years as head coach at Findlay.
For Findlay's 2017 coaching staff, please click on the following link:
The #21 Oilers (9-1, 6-0 GMAC)
The Oilers have been on a historic run this season, winning eight-straight games and tying the record for the most win in a season in the NCAA era of Findlay football. One more win would give the Orange and Black double-digit wins for the first time since 1997 when the team finished 14-0 and won an NAIA Division II National Championship.
But the Oilers are chasing more than a double-digit win total. With a win on Saturday, Findlay would clinch their first conference title since 1997 and would be the first G-MAC champions since the conference expanded from a three-team league to an eight-team league. A win would also mean the Oilers, ranked fourth in Super Region One, would all but assure themselves a spot in the NCAA Division II Playoffs marking the first time in school history that would be accomplished.
Findlay will enter the game sporting one of the nation's top offenses and defenses. The Oilers are currently ranked second in the nation in scoring offense (49.9 ppg), second in first downs (276), third in total offense (525.4 ypg), and fourth in rushing offense (286.8 ypg). All of that is made possible by a talented offensive line that is allowing just a half-sack per game, the best in the country.
On the other side of the ball, the Oilers have had big play ability all season, scoring five defensive touchdowns this year, fourth-best in the nation. Those big plays often come as a result of turnovers, of which the Oilers get plenty. Findlay has 27 takeaways this season, fourth in the nation, and lead the country with a turnover margin of +18. The team's total defense ranks 24th in the country at 292.5 yards allowed per game, but they have kept opponents out of the end zone and rank ninth in scoring defense, allowing just 13.9 points per game.
The Panthers (6-3, 6-0 GMAC)
ODU has bounced back from an 0-3 start, which came against nationally ranked California (Pa.) and Ashland and FCS opponent Penn, to win its past six games by an average of 32.7 points per game. Last week, ODU outgained Kentucky Wesleyan 638-278 en route to a 63-7 victory in Panther Stadium. The Panthers scored touchdowns on eight of their first 10 possessions and converted 10-of-15 third downs in the 56 point win, tied for the fourth largest margin of victory in school history.
ODU has turned the ball over just six times this season, the fewest in the country, and has just two fumbles against Division II competition. As a team, the Panthers lead the country in completion percentage at 72.6 percent, and senior Grant Russell (Newark, Ohio) leads the nation at 73.2 percent. The Panthers also have the third ranked passing offense at 344.1 yards per game and are seventh in total offense (509.9).
The defense stepped up to limit KWC to just 2.2 yards per carry, the third time this year it has held an opponent to less than 2.5 yards per run. Twenty-five different Panthers had at least 10 tackles in the game, led by a dozen apiece from freshman Dauson Dales (Defiance, Ohio) and junior Tristan Kehres (Shelby, Ohio).
Senior Cameron Kohl (Hilliard, Ohio) continued his climb up ODU's all-time tackles list as he made 10 stops against Kentucky Wesleyan and now has 252 career tackles, which is fifth in Panther history.
G-MAC Preseason Poll
The Oilers were picked to finish third in the eight-team Great Midwest Athletic Conference this season. Findlay received two first place votes and is selected to finish behind Ohio Dominican and Hillsdale College. Alderson Broaddus, last year's G-MAC champion, received one first place vote.
G-MAC Current Status
Findlay and ODU are guaranteed to finish in the top two spots with Hillsdale in third. The three teams who made up the entirety of the G-MAC last season are currently tied in the bottom three spots at 1-5 in league play.
Findlay has scored 60+ points in four games this year, the most 60+ point games in a season in school history. With all the high scoring games, Findlay owns the top four scoring games in Great Midwest history.
The Total Package
The Oilers are ranked in the top ten in the nation in both scoring offense (49.9 ppg / 2nd in nation, 1st in region) and scoring defense (13.9 ppg / 9th in nation, 3rd in region). Only two other teams in the country are in the top-10 in both (Minnesota St. & Assumption).