Date: Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Site: Galesburg, Ill. • Knosher Bowl (6,000)
Internet Video: prairiefire.knox.edu
Internet Stats: prairiefire.knox.edu
Radio: WCDD-FM 107.9; WBYS-AM 1560
Internet Audio: cdcountry1079.com
Series: Knox leads, 16-5-1
• Eureka will open its 109th season of football Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. against the Knox Prairie Fire at the Knosher Bowl in Galesburg, Ill.
• The two squads will compete in the inaugural "Abraham Lincoln Bowl", recognizing the shared importance of the two liberal arts colleges, each founded by abolitionists, in Abraham Lincoln's life and in American history. The winner of the contest will receive a new traveling trophy, a bronze bust of young Lincoln.
• Eureka will try to win its season opener on the road for the first time since beating Bethel (Tenn.), 26-20, on Sept. 5, 1998 in McKinzie, Tenn. and just the fourth time overall since joining NCAA Division III in 1978.
• The Red Devils will aim to snap a three-game losing streak at Knox's Knosher Bowl and win in Galesburg for the first time since earning a 41-7 victory over the Prairie Fire on Sept. 7, 1991.
• A victory on Saturday would give Eureka back-to-back wins over Knox for the first time since 1990-91.
• Eureka senior quarterback Sam Durley will enter the game needing 58 completions, 186 passing yards and two passing touchdowns to break each Eureka career record held by former teammate Nick Lindsey (2006-09). Durley's career totals of 365 completions, 5,359 yards and 43 touchdowns are the most by any active UMAC player.
• Saturday's contest will be broadcast live on the radio in Eureka on WCDD-FM 107.9 and simulcast on WBYS-AM 1560 in Galesburg. B.J. Stone and Jason Rockhold will be live on the call beginning with a pregame show at 12:30 p.m. The broadcast will also be streamed live online at cdcountry1079.com.
• In addition to the radio coverage, Eureka fans will be able to watch the game live by visiting Knox's official athletics website, prairiefire.knox.edu.
• A total of 19 players that earned at least one start in 2011 are back in uniform this fall, 16 of which started at least five contests. Seven regulars return on Eureka's offensive unit, while nine starters are back on defense. Eureka went 4-6 last season and put together its first four-game winning streak since 1996.
• Overall, Eureka boasts 39 returning letterwinners on its 2012 roster. A total of 34 newcomers have joined the program for the upcoming campaign to give the Red Devils a roster of 74 student-athletes.
• Senior quarterback Sam Durley, junior linebacker Jacob Carls and senior punter Jordan Jefferson each received All-UMAC accolades last season.
• The Prairie Fire will look to an end a 14-game losing streak Saturday. Knox went 0-10 last season and competes as a member of the Midwest Conference.
• Senior linebacker Mike Hendrick was named a preseason All-American by D3Football.com, USA Football News and Beyond Sports Network. He led the nation and set a single-season school record with 157 tackles last season.
• Junior quarterback Drew Diaz, junior running back Derek Mortensen and junior wideout Dustin Armstrong return as skill players who made significant offensive contributions last season. Diaz threw for 1,540 yards and 12 touchdowns, but was intercepted 17 times. Mortensen ran for 795 yards and 11 scores.
THE HEAD COACHES
• Eureka College athletics Hall of Famer Kurt Barth will enter his fourth season as the head coach of the Eureka football program in 2012. He named the 19th head coach in program history in December 2008.
• Barth is 1-0 all-time against Knox and Midwest Conference members, earning a 28-13 victory over the Prairie Fire in his first game as head coach of the Red Devils on Sept. 5, 2009. He will be shooting for his fourth career road victory on Saturday.
• Chad Eisele became the Knox athletic director on May 8, 2006 and was named football head coach in November of 2009. Eisele, a native of Peoria, Ill., is a 1993 graduate of Knox.
• Eisele, who won 31 games and earned an NCAA Division III playoff berth in five seasons as head coach at Lake Forest, is 1-19 in two seasons at Knox. He will be coaching against Eureka for the first time.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
• Saturday's contest between Eureka and Knox marks the 23rd game in the all-time series since their first meeting in Galesburg on Oct. 14, 1893. The Prairie Fire leads the all-time series, 16-5-1.
• Eureka is 2-11 all-time at Knox, earning victories in 1985 and 1991. Knox won the last contest in Galesburg on Sept. 6, 2008, 26-0, and has beaten the Red Devils three consecutive times at the Knosher Bowl.
• Knox represents the Red Devils' second-oldest Division III rival in program history, trailing only Illinois Wesleyan, although the Red Devils haven't met the Titans in football since 1942.
• The non-conference series between Eureka and Knox has been renewed for opening weekend through the 2015 season.
THE INAUGURAL LINCOLN BOWL
• Eureka and Knox will play in the inaugural "Lincoln Bowl" on Saturday. In 1856, Lincoln spoke on behalf of the first Republican presidential candidate, John Charles Fremont, at Eureka College. Two years later, in 1858, Lincoln famously debated Stephen Douglas at Knox for a United States Senate seat.
• A traveling trophy will be awarded to the winning team of the game. According to the NCAA Division III football record book, the Lincoln Bowl will become the third NCAA Division III football series in the state of Illinois to award a traveling trophy. Knox and Monmouth have competed annually for the Bronze Turkey since 1929, while North Central and Wheaton have played for the Little Brass Bell since 1947.
MORE FAMILIAR FACES
• Several veteran players will suit up for Eureka this Saturday. Offensively, quarterback Sam Durley, running back Corey Dawson and offensive linemen Jon Deedrick and Mike Gruninger will start on Saturday as players with at least 10 career starts. Durley's 19 career starts are the most by any Red Devil on offense.
• The Red Devils boast even more depth and experience on defense, as eight of Eureka's 11 projected starters have compiled at least 10 career starts. Junior linebacker Jacob Carls has started all 20 games of his collegiate career, the most by any active Red Devil since the beginning of the 2010 season.
• Kicker Travis Huber and punter Jordan Jefferson will each return for their fourth season as starters. Both players have earned All-UMAC honors in their careers, while Huber's next field goal will be the 14th of his career for sole possession of the all-time Eureka record. Huber ranks sixth in program history with 121 points scored.
WHO ARE THE NEW GUYS?
• A handful of newcomers will be a part of Eureka's starting lineup on Saturday. Illinois College J.R. Lester will start at left guard, while three-year basketball letterwinner Jordan Kindred will play his first collegiate football game at wide receiver. Freshman Tyler Schuler will contribute as Eureka's long snapper.
• While not new to the program, defensive end Stew McGinnis and wide receiver Cody Followell will start for the first time in their careers on Saturday.
CURRENT RED DEVILS VERSUS KNOX
• While Eureka boasts nine seniors that were part of the program when the Red Devils previously met Knox in 2009, only four of those players made an appearance on the stat sheet as freshmen.
• Cornerback Wes Robinson made a career-high eight tackles in the victory over the Prairie Fire. Steve Snider and Craig Wilson each made tackles, while kicker Travis Huber was perfect on four extra point attempts.
THE RED DEVILS ON OPENING WEEK
• The Red Devils will be shooting for their first season-opening victory since beating Knox, 28-13, on Sept. 5, 2009. Eureka lost both games of a home-and-home series with Benedictine to open the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
• Eureka is 12-22 in season openers since joining NCAA Division III in 1978.
ENDING THE NON-CONFERENCE BLUES ON THE ROAD
• Eureka will try to snap a 17-game losing streak this Saturday on the road against non-conference opponents. The Red Devils last won a contest on a non-conference opponent's home field on Sept. 11, 1999 at Monmouth, 42-28.
EUREKA VERSUS THE MWC
• Saturday's game against the Prairie Fire marks Eureka's 112th game against a current member of the Midwest Conference. The Red Devils are 39-68-4 all-time in those matchups.
• Preseason MWC favorite Illinois College has proved to be Eureka's most frequent MWC opponent, as the Red Devils have met the Blue Boys 56 times in program history. The series, which hasn't been renewed since 1978, is Eureka's longest against any school.
GOING TO THE AIR
• With the Eureka passing attack coming off three consecutive seasons ranked among the top-50 in NCAA Division III, the Red Devils may be able to use their bread and butter a little more frequently than usual this Saturday.
• The Knox defense, which returns nine players that appeared in at least eight games last season, ranked 238th out of 239 Division III teams last season with 286.9 passing yards allowed. KC ranked 205th or worse in total defense, rushing defense and points allowed.
• While much of the state has enjoyed warm and sunny skies this week, Saturday's weather forecast in Galesburg shows the potential for heavy rainfall.
• The remnants of Hurricane Isaac could potentially spin into Illinois by Saturday. The southern portion of the state will likely receive the most precipitation, but the forecast for kickoff in Galesburg and its surrounding area shows a 60 percent chance of showers and storms.
• The Knosher Bowl in Galesburg features an artificial surface. The Red Devils are 2-8 under head coach Kurt Barth when playing on turf.
PRESEASON UMAC POLL
• Eureka was picked to finish fifth in the nine-team Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, according to a coaches' poll released by the league office in early August. Greenville received three of a possible nine first-place votes to be picked as the preseason favorite for the second consecutive season.
A NEW ONLINE HOME ... NEXT WEEK
• Thanks to a partnership with Sidearm Sports, the Eureka College Department of Athletics will launch EurekaRedDevils.com next Thursday, Sept. 6.
• The new website, operated by the Eureka sports information staff, will include press releases, team rosters, schedules and results, season statistics, live statistics, historical archives, action photos and biographies for coaches and student-athletes.