It has been 17 years since these two rivals, separated by less than 20 miles, have faced off on the gridiron. Baker University (based in Baldwin City, KS) owns a 43-31-2 advantage in the all-time series with Ottawa University, including a 10-game winning streak dating back to 1976. The last time the two teams faced off was in the first game of the 1993 season, with the Wildcats handing the Braves a 43-9 loss on Ottawa's home field.
"Bringing together two long-time rivals in the season opener for both teams is the perfect game for our fourth annual Victory Sports First Down Classic," said Rasmussen. "The excitement these two college communities bring to their contests is a cornerstone of why fans, students and alumni around the world have embraced The Victory Sports Network, and this football game is further demonstration of the power of college sports to bring people together."
Ottawa finished 2009 with an 11-1 overall record and a 9-0 record as champions of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC). Ottawa defeated Hastings College (Neb.) in the first round of the NAIA Championship Series 40-34, before falling to Lindenwood University (Mo.) 64-26.
"This is the type of game the alumni from both schools have long been waiting for," said Kent Kessinger, head football coach of Ottawa. "Kicking off our 2010 season with this game adds to our excitement for the upcoming 2010 season."
Baker was 7-3 in 2009 ending the season with a five-game winning streak while finishing fourth in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC). Baker last made the NAIA Championship Series in 2008, losing in the first round to Morningside College (Iowa).
"We are really looking forward to this," said Mike Grossner, head football coach of Baker. "There's been a lot of local interest over the last few years playing just junior varsity games against each other. I have great respect for Kent and the progress he has made with the Ottawa University program. We will have to have our guys ready for a big early season challenge."
"Of all the games we have put together for the First Down Classic, this one will be the biggest," said Jason Dannelly, Director of College Relations for Victory Sports and the game's founder. "There have been some great matchups but never a rivalry like these two institutions."
2010 will mark the fourth season of the Victory Sports First Down Classic and the first appearance for Baker. Ottawa will make their second appearance as they participated in the second game of the 2009 Victory Sports First Down Classic, defeating McKendree University (Ill.) 31-21. Avila University (Mo.) defeated Doane College (Neb.) in the first game of the 2009 Victory Sports First Down Classic 9-6. In 2008, Doane College defeated William Jewell (Mo.) 15-12 and in 2007 MidAmerica Nazarene defeated Azusa Pacific 59-38.
Fans can expect to see a quality game from a great facility as People's Bank Stadium is one of the latest renovations of the Ottawa University Campus. Finished in the summer of 2008, the facility boasts a synthetic turf surface and seating for over 3,000.View the facebook event here.