WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. - The University of the Cumberlands (UC) are just one game away from the ultimate goal in the NAIA. With their 34-27 overtime victory on Saturday against six-time NAIA National Champion Carroll College, the University of the Cumberlands Patriot football program will make its first ever appearance in the NAIA Football National Championship game. The Patriots will be making the trip to Rome, Georgia for the game on Saturday December 21st as they will take on #2 Grand View University.
Grand View is also making its first ever appearance in the NAIA National Championship game after defeating #5 Morningside 35-0 in their NAIA FCS Semifinal game on Saturday. The Vikings presented an overpowering defense against Morningside, who was #1 for numerous weeks this season, to just 245 yards of total offense, including only 104 passing yards in the game. Grand View enters the game as the only other undefeated team in the NAIA at 13-0.
The Vikings went 6-0 this season in the Mid-States Football Midwest division and are 8-0 thus far against NAIA Top 25 teams including the postseason. The Patriots also tote an undefeated 6-0 record in the Mid-South Conference East division, earning their 5th MSC championship under Head Coach John Bland. UC is currently 8-0 against NAIA Top 25 opposition including the postseason.
The Vikings enter the 58th Annual Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship against UC toting the 2nd ranked rushing defense per game in the NAIA allowing just 85.2 yards per game. The Patriots will look to change that as they come into the game with the #1 ranked rushing offense per game in the NAIA with 365.2 yards per game on the ground. Grand View is also ranked #2 in the NAIA in scoring defense in the country allowing just 14.8 points per game, but UC will look to counteract that with the NAIA's #2 scoring offense per game in the country as they average 46.6 points per game this season.
UC Head Coach John Bland commented, "We have watched some film on Grand View. Of course they are undefeated as well. The strength of their team is their defense. They are fast, physical, and tackle really well. It feels great being in the championship game. It’s very exciting and it’s something we have been striving to get to for a long time. It takes some breaks and a lot of great senior leadership and now we are here. Now it’s time to prep and come out successful."
Kickoff for the 58th Annual Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship will be at 4:30 pm at Barron Stadium in Rome, Georgia.