Friday, November 06, 2009
Tomorrow Shippensburg, the unlikely champions of the PSAC East division will host the California (Pa), the PSAC West champs, in the PSAC State Game. This is the second year for the reborn State Game.
California has won five straight PSAC West titles, a string that started the season after Shippensburg took home the 2004 PSAC West crown. Since then the PSAC has expanded and Shippensburg moved to the East division.
Both teams are offensive juggernauts in the conference, with both averaging over 30 points per game. the Red Raiders lead the series history by a 42-29-1 margin, but Cal is riding a three game winning streak after Ship had won 14 straight games dating back to 1991. Cal is not the same team they used to be as they have started to spend more money on their athletic department in recent seasons in all sports. Cal has gone from a cellar-dweller to the dominant force in the PSAC West and a legitimate team on a national stage.
The winner will not only win bragging rights within the Keystone State and the largest conference in college football, but also a trip to the upcoming division two playoffs. The loser will likely fall out of contention for a post-season spot. Shippensburg enters the game as the #3 team in Super Regional 1 while Cal is #2. the top six teams will go on to play in the playoffs.
For Shippensburg the 2009 season has been a pleasant surprise. After losing a tough game to Shepherd in the season opener the Red Raiders went on a four game winning streak, demolishing Lock Haven, East Stroudsburg and Millersville in the process. they also picked up a tough victory against Edinboro. A crushing blow came in an upset loss at C.W. Post but wins over Kutztown and PSAC East powers West Chester and Bloomsburg set Ship up to clinch the PSAC East's outright division title with a win at Cheyney last weekend.
Now the question is whether or not the #23/24 Red Raiders have one more statement game in them against the #18 Vulcans. Shippensburg's last home playoff game did not go so well as West Chester blitzed past the top seed in the Northeast region and held on despite a late Red Raider rally in the fourth quarter. For West Chester it was revenge for losing the regular season finale in Farrell Stadium, an overtime loss when Ship intercepted the first offensive play by West Chester.
I will not be watching this game as I will be up at State College, but if you are not making the trip to the Cumberland Valley for this one you can watch it online.
Shippensburg has six PSAC championships in their history and California is looking for their ninth title. West Chester owns the most PSAC titles with 18 with IUP and Bloomsburg second with 16. Shippensburg's last overall PSAC championship came in 1981 with a victory over Millersville, 34-17. They tied in 1976 with East Stroudsburg, 14-14, for a share of the crown. All previous championships before that were awarded by sports writers.
For more on the game here is some media coverage:
Public Opinion - PSAC title game loss could be bad news for Shippensburg
Tribune Review - Shippensburg awaiting California's visit
The Morning Call - Parkland grad Herod leads Red Raiders into title game
Observer-Reporter.com - State Game love-hate relationship in PSAC