How good is undefeated University of the Cumberlands football? How realistic are Georgetown College's hopes of rallying all the way from an 0-2 start to the Mid-South Conference Bluegrass Division title and an NAIA playoff berth?
We likely will know the answer to both questions after the in-state rivalry is renewed Saturday at Toyota Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in the pivotal clash.
No. 8 Cumberlands (7-0 overall, 4-0 division) has put up huge numbers this fall. The Patriots are averaging 45.6 points per game, including a 98-0 rout of Union that raised eyebrows and earned national notice, while allowing only 12.7.
They haven't faced any team currently ranked in the NAIA top 25, however, and there were two relatively close calls on the road earlier in the season. Cumberlands survived Ave Maria, 30-23, and pushed past Pikeville, 24-13.
Georgetown (4-3, 3-1) has won four of its past five games, including a dramatic, 20-19 verdict at home over Thomas More last week. The Tigers salvaged the win with a drive in the final two minutes, capped by Isaiah Cobb's 1-yard touchdown run with 16 seconds remaining.
Defense has been a mainstay in the past three wins. GC held Campbellsville to 14 points and Bethel to seven. Starr Thompson's team-high 79 tackles and three interceptions and Landon Corolla's 10½ sacks likely have both seniors in the All-America conversation.
They'll face a diverse Cumberlands attack led by quarterback Josiah Robbins, who has completed 84 of 145 passes for 1,329 yards and 13 touchdowns. In last week's 47-10 rout of Campbellsville, Robbins connected with Darius Young for scores of 68, 64 and 41 yards.
Robbins has thrown seven interceptions, however, which could open doors for Thompson, Santana Jones, Jon Beets and a Georgetown secondary that has improved by leaps and bounds since the start of the season.
Young (20 receptions, 419 yards) and Weston Hayes (21 for 262, four TD) are Robbins' primary targets.
Martize Smith highlights the Cumberlands ground game with 76 carries for 529 yards and eight scores.
Cobb found second-half seams last week to resurrect Georgetown's dormant rushing attack, but the emergence of sophomore QB Zach Dampier has keyed the Tigers' offense.
Dampier has completed 103 of 181 attempts for 1,332 yards and 10 touchdowns against only three interceptions. Jake Johnson (29 receptions, 444 yards, five TD) and J.J. Ogbogu (28 for 606, six TD) have benefited from his ability to throw an accurate deep ball.
GC has seen a whopping 17 different players catch at least one pass this season, including Scott County freshman tight end Cade Mullins, who collected two in his collegiate debut a week ago.
Ryan Woolf, Payton Standifer and Riley McKown have joined Thompson and Corolla as stoppers for the Georgetown defense, which has been a second-half unit in most of its wins. The Tigers held Thomas More to a field goal last week beyond intermission after shutting out Bethel and Campbellsville in the third and fourth quarters.
Cumberlands had last week's MSC Bluegrass Division offensive (Young) and defensive (Kumi Sarpong Jr.) players of the week. Sarpong has been the Patriots' answer to Corolla. He had 3 sacks in the Campbellsville win. Tyler Pendleton has 75 tackles to lead Cumberlands, which has produced 24½ sacks and 15 takeaways overall.
As was the case with Pikeville — which was GC's only blemish in the past five weeks, a 37-31 decision — Cumberlands returns to the Georgetown schedule after a two-year hiatus hastened by the massive recent growth of the Mid-South Conference.
The rivalry will celebrate its 100-year anniversary two years from now. Georgetown has dominated, 29 wins to six, including one-sided wins in the past three. GC rolled 31-7 in 2016, 30-13 in 2015 and 42-13 in 2014.
Cumberlands seeks its first bragging rights since 2013, a 38-35 Patriot victory.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.