The DePauw Prediction
By Robert (Parker) Passarelli
Next Saturday, Nov. 11th, the 129th rendition of the Monon Bell Classic will be played at Wabash College. The storied rivalry has showcased some of the best talent Division Three has to offer, and this year is no exception. DePauw, entering the game ranked 23rd in the country (AFCA), will travel north to face unranked Wabash. The Tigers entered the season as the preseason favorite to win the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) after reigning supreme the previous two seasons. Six of the possible nine first-place votes went to the Tigers, and this prediction is coming to fruition. DePauw has steamrolled all conference opponents thus far with the exception of Wittenberg, in which the Tigers won by 6 in a tough conference game.
A 9-0 overall record including a 7-0 in-conference record is supported by the best statistical team in recent memory. With 45.89 average PPG, this explosive offense will likely see the end zone regularly, and the defense is holding opponents to a mere 12.11 PPG through nine games, and 240 YPG (13th in Div 3). Our tigers lead the NCAC in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
The Little Giants enter the game with an overall record of 6-2 and a conference record of 5-1. With losses to Butler University and Wittenberg University, they will likely provide a tough game. Wabash ranks second in offensive PPG and fourth in points allowed in the NCAC. The Little Giants’ struggles stem from lackluster defensive play, allowing 24.38 PPG. Liam Thompson, the quarterback at the helm for the past few years, has turned the football over 7 times this season, forcing the Little Giants’ defense to pay for the costly turnovers. However, he has had a quality season thus far, as he often does, making the defensive pressure DePauw gives him a point of emphasis.
The team up north’s offense is led by Thompson who leads the team in rushing yards and touchdowns as well as passing yards and touchdowns. While slowing him down is easier said than done, various supporting pieces like sophomore RB Xavier Tyler and senior RB Cade Campbell will be points of emphasis for the Tiger’s defense. Also, senior WR Derek Allen Jr. has had a stellar season thus far, accumulating over 700 yards and 10 touchdowns through 8 games.
The DePauw defense is led by 2022 NCAC Defensive Player of the Year, LB Brevon Gude ‘24, as well as junior LB’s Jonathan Bruder ‘25 and Luke Marsh ‘25. While most of the pressure is on the secondary to shut off Wabash’s weapons downfield, it will also be crucial for these guys to lock down the run game and Thompson’s pocket.
Nathan McCahill ‘25 outshines many on the field, boasting numbers including 27 Total TDs and only 4 INTs. Putting the ball in his hands and giving him time to throw will be necessary for the Tigers as he can put the ball anywhere on the field. However, turnovers will absolutely be a factor as they are in any Monon Bell game. The team that commits the least turnovers will likely reign victorious.
How can DePauw win? Simply play the game they have been thus far. Do not let the aura of the bell shape the narrative in favor of the Little Giants, as DePauw is the clear favorite for this game. They lead in every statistical category this season and have the talent to repeat the narrative of last year’s game. DePauw comes in as the clear favorite, beats Wabash significantly, and wins the conference.
As any rivalry should, this game will be close for much of the time. By half time the score could be close or even feature a Wabash lead. But I believe the Little Giants will not be able to keep up with the offensive horsepower and defensive prowess that DePauw has put on display week in and week out this season by the end of the game. DePauw will look to continue its dominance next Saturday while Wabash hopes to spoil the Tigers’ perfect season.
Game prediction: DePauw 35-17 Wabash
The Bachelor Prediction
By Ethan Wallace
When Wabash and DePauw enter the Monon Bell Game as the top two teams in the conference, predicting the outcome is like looking for a needle in a haystack of records, stats and head-to-head comparisons.
Unlike last year, where Wabash was the offensive favorite and DePauw was the defensive favorite, the 129th Monon Bell Classic will see two teams that are much more balanced. \
Statistically these two teams look basically even. Against North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) opponents, the Wabash offense has slightly outperformed its DePauw counterpart. The Little Giants have accumulated a total of 330 points on 44 touchdowns and eight field goals against NCAC teams. The Tigers total 312 points from 42 touchdowns and five field goals. Wabash leads the NCAC in both rushing and passing totals against the conference, while the DePauw offense has been the second-best in the conference with a passing game that came just over 100 yards short of the Wabash total.
On the defensive front, DePauw looks to have a clear statistical advantage, as they have only allowed nine touchdowns to NCAC teams. At first, Wabash seems to have fared much worse, giving 20 touchdowns to conference opponents. However, a deeper look shows that nine of the touchdowns the Little Giants’ defense allowed have come in the third and fourth quarters of uncontested games.
There’s also the matter of experience and development that will play a part in the contest.
The DePauw team will enter the 129th Monon Bell Game with the conference-best record of 9-0 (7-0 NCAC). And, apart from their overtime win against Wittenberg, they haven’t seen many teams who can keep the close for four quarters.
The Tigers’ team is still built around a strong defensive core that takes pressure off their offense, while sporting one of the best run games in the conference, something the Little Giants struggled to contain last year.
The Little Giants hold a 8-2 (7-1 NCAC) record that puts them in second-place entering the contest. Their non-conference schedule was arguably stronger than DePauw’s, as they lost to Butler University in their second game of the year. Their only NCAC loss came to Denison University, who were conference contenders early in the season.
Since last year, Wabash’s defense has developed into one of the best in the NCAC and has been able to shut down some impressive rushing teams. Their veteran offense returns as the top scoring offense in the conference against NCAC teams. But instead of mainly relying on the arm of Liam Thompson to get them into the endzone, they now have a balanced offense that can break defense on the ground or in the air.
While the better record definitely helps the Tigers’ case for being the favorite to win, the Little Giants have more experience in playing close games this season and may be more prepared to play for such high stakes.
Probably the best point of comparison for these two teams is their respective matchups against Wittenberg. This year, the Tigers are a consistent steady offense paired with their near-impenetrable defense that can be expected to put pressure on for all four quarters. This is exactly what they did against Wittenberg, who jumped out to an early lead, only to have the DePauw team work their way back and win 41-35 in overtime.
Wabash also beat Wittenberg, but in a completely different manner. The Little Giants, who when the momentum swings their way, have shown the ability to quickly stack up points against any opponent. The Wabash team, firing on all cylinders, coordinated offense and defense to score 24 first-quarter points against Wittenberg on their way to a 52-20 blowout win.
This difference between consistency and explosiveness will almost certainly be what determines the outcome of the game and the winner of the conference. If DePauw can keep Wabash from getting too much at once and use their consistency to outlast the Wabash momentum, they will have a good chance of winning.
However, in big games, where regular order is easily shaken, the ability to leverage momentum into quick points can make all the difference. On top of their experience in high-pressure situations, Wabash will have the impossible-to-ignore home field advantage at Little Giant Stadium. A big play early-on for the team could easily result in the Little Giants seizing the reins of this game.
Prediction: Wabash: 31- DePauw: 28