Four Home Games, Trip to Southern California, Highlight Nine-Game Slate
SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University football has announced its schedule for the 2014 season. The Bearcats' nine-game slate, which features four home games, five road contests and a number of challenging opponents, will begin on Saturday, Sept. 13.
Willamette will open the season with a pair of tough non-conference games.
For the Bearcats' season opener, Willamette will welcome Trinity University (Texas) to McCulloch Stadium for the first time. The Tigers finished 5-5 overall, 1-2 in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference last year, and will be playing their first game under new Head Coach Jerheme Urban. Game time is set for 1:30 p.m. (PDT).
Willamette last faced Trinity in 2000, losing 21-0 in San Antonio, Texas.
On Sept. 20, the Bearcats will renew their series with California Lutheran University. The Bearcats and Kingsmen played every year from 2006-09, with Willamette winning each of the teams' last three meetings.
CLU, which won four straight Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championships from 2009-12, tied for third place last year with a 4-5 overall record, 4-3 in SCIAC play.
After a bye week, Willamette will host George Fox University in the Bruins' first-ever Northwest Conference game on Friday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. (PDT) at McCulloch Stadium.
George Fox, which last fielded a football team in 1969, is Willamette's oldest football opponent. Bearcat football began on Nov. 17, 1894, when the Bearcats earned an 18-4 victory over Pacific College (now George Fox) on the Willamette Quad.
On Oct. 11, the Bearcats will travel to the Pine Bowl in Spokane, Wash., for a game against Whitworth University. The Pirates will be led by new Head Coach Rod Sandberg. Willamette defeated Whitworth 50-21 at McCulloch Stadium last season.
One week later on Oct. 18, Willamette will host rival Lewis & Clark College in the annual Wagon Wheel Game at 1:30 p.m. (PDT). The Bearcats have won the right to keep the Wagon Wheel, Oregon's only traveling football trophy, in 19 of the teams' last 20 meetings.
From there, Willamette begins a grueling slate of three road games in a row. On Oct. 25, the Bearcats will face Pacific Lutheran University in Puyallup, Wash., on Nov. 1, WU will play at archrival Linfield College, and on Nov. 8, Willamette will travel to Forest Grove, Ore., for a matchup against Pacific University.
The Lutes and Wildcats, both of whom qualified for the national playoffs and were nationally-ranked in 2013, handed the Bearcats their only two losses last season. Willamette used 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Boxers 21-17 at McCulloch Stadium.
The Bearcats will close their regular season on Nov. 15, with a home game against the University of Puget Sound at 2 p.m. (PST).
Willamette finished 2013 with a 7-2 overall record, 4-2 in the NWC (3rd place). Overall, WU is 15-4 (.789) in two years under Head Coach Glen Fowles.
At the end of the season, 14 Bearcats were chosen to the All-NWC Team and two were chosen to the All-West Region Team.
Junior linebacker Jack Nelson (Portland, OR/Jesuit HS), was named a finalist for the 2013 Cliff Harris Award, presented to the nation's top small college defensive player, and senior kick return specialist Tyson Giza (Salem, OR/Sprague HS) was chosen Third Team All-America for NCAA Division III by the Beyond Sports Network.