The University of the Cumberlands has been a thorn in Cumberland University's side as far as football has been concerned in recent years as the Patriots knocked the Bulldogs out of NAIA playoff contention on a couple of occasions.
It's too early to eliminate anyone from the playoffs yet. But the No. 8 Patriots come into Saturday's 12:30 p.m. CDT home game in Williamsburg, Ky., off a 52-21 triumph over neighboring rival Union College.
"They've probably been ranked in the top 20 since I got here in '08," said first-year Cumberland coach Donnie Suber, who has been the Bulldogs' defensive coordinator for six seasons. "They're loaded this year, too. They've got 20, I think, of their 22 returners coming back. They have [Terrence] Cobb back, they have [Willie] Gibson back. And they've got a pretty good freshman quarterback who's about 210 pounds who runs the ball well.
"We're in for another tough one."
Cobb, from Knoxville, ran for 228 yards and three touchdowns against Union to pick up Mid-South Conference Player of the Week honors. Gibson, a senior wide receiver, caught three passes for 73 yards, 71 coming on one grab, and a touchdown.
The freshman quarterback, Adam Craig, completed 7 of 12 passes for 114 yards with the score to Gibson and no interceptions. He also ran for a couple of touchdowns and 51 yards.
"They're an option team on offense," Suber said. "They run kind of a spread-option look. They're a true triple.
"Defensively, they're a 3-4 and they got a big guy who roams around wherever he wants to and makes plays."
But at least after pocketing a few thousand dollars to get beat 63-7 at FCS Tennessee Tech last week, the Bulldogs are facing a team that's officially on their level.
"The size and the speed will be a little bit slower for us," said Suber, whose Bulldogs are battling injuries from that game as well as preseason and even practice this week. "We got another safety hurt [Wednesday], so I'm down to my third safety.
"It'll be a tough game for us, but it's a good opportunity for us. If we can stick together and play as a team and do what we're supposed to do and stay disciplined, especially on defense because they run the option, then we can be okay."