After 729 days since their last meeting in 2019, the annual Monon Bell Classic between Wabash and DePauw will make its much awaited return tomorrow afternoon as it debuts in the new Little Giant Stadium. For Wabash, it all comes down to Saturday as no other game or result matters, it simply comes down to brining the bell back to where it belongs.
Two seasons ago Wabash fell in Greencastle as DePauw scored on a 63-yard touchdown pass with 38 seconds remaining to steal a 17-13 win over the Little Giants.
The Little Giants enter the Monon Bell Classic with a 6-3 record on the season while the Tigers come in with an 8-1 record and a perfect record in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC). Last week DePauw captured their first NCAC title since joining the conference back in 2012 and come in ranked 25th by in D3Football.com Top 25 poll.
In a rivalry game however, you throw out the records, throw out the stats and let it all play out on the field.
“It’s the number one goal here at Wabash College is to win this game,” Wabash coach Don Morel said. “Despite what’s happened this year we can still achieve our number one goal. Two years ago we lost in a heart breaker then you add a pandemic last season to add to the misery of that loss. But we can put that all behind us because we have a chance to do something special on Saturday.”
Little Giants Quarterback Liam Thompson first experience in the rivalry game was two seasons ago in that heart-breaking loss. This year he wants to help Wabash get the trophy back.
“This is our super bowl this week,” Little Giants quarterback Liam Thompson said of the magnitude of the game. “This game gives us a chance to gain back some of the things that we’ve lost this year. Coming off of a loss last week, I think that adds a little extra fuel to the fire for us come Saturday.”
Wabash fell to Wittenberg at home last week 35-14. In the game Thompson threw for 341 yards but completed just 29 of 55 attempts and threw four interceptions. DePauw comes into the game leading the NCAC in interceptions with 18 and Thompson knows he and the rest of the offense will have to play mistake-free football come Saturday.
“We just want to get back to what we know we can be,” he said. “We had a rough week as an offense last week and I had a few personal mistakes, but we’re looking to clean that up and be ready to go.”
The Tigers come in to the Monon Bell game ranked first in the conference in total defense, allowing just 16 points and 301 total yards per game. On offense, DePauw is right behind Wabash averaging 37 points per game and our led by senior quarterback Chase Andries. Andries has thrown for 2,190 yards on the season with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. Gus Baumgartner leads the Tigers ground attack with 686 yards on the ground and six scores.
“DePauw is a very good football team and we’re going to have to play our best football,” Morel said. We can’t repeat some of the mistakes we had a week ago. Their secondary is excellent and overall they did a good job of getting some of their fifth year guys to come back. We’re going to have to be as balanced as we can be on offense.”
Balance has been a big part of the reason the Little Giants sit atop of the conference mostly every offensive category. They average 494 yards per game with 184 coming on the ground and 310 through the air. Thompson has passed for 2,793 yards on the season with 25 touchdowns.
Defensively has been the area of concern for Wabash this season as they’ve surrendered 30 points and 407 yards per game.
Wabash lives for this game every single season and the way the last two years have gone, the Little Giants want nothing more than to bring the bell home.
“You really can’t explain the excitement of winning the game until it happens,” Morel said. “Even when it happens you still are hard pressed to try and come up with some words. Winning the Monon Bell game is always a tremendous feeling.”
“It means everything,” Thompson said. “Not just to us but to the entire school. It’s been awhile since the bell’s been back on campus. We’re going in with a championship mindset and it will be boom or bust.”
You can catch live coverage of the 127th Monon Bell Classic live on the ISC Sports Network or the Wabash College Video Network. 91.3 FM WNDY will carry the radio coverage of the game.
103.9 WIMC FM will be on site broadcasting live beginning at 11 am with a special tailgate show leading up to kickoff at 1:07 P.M.