Iowa Conference teams are down to seven conference football games this year with the return of Cornell College to the Midwest Conference. For all eight of the remaining teams, that means an extra slot to fill on the nonconference schedule.
Central College opens against Wisconsin-Oshkosh this Saturday, and head coach Jeff McMartin says schools have a lot of factors to balance when scheduling nonconference games. McMartin says there’s not one team in the league that enjoys finding nonconference games and they each have different ways they select opponents.
Two weeks after visiting Oshkosh, Central will visit Albion College in Michigan, a team that reached the NCAA Division III playoffs last season. He says being able to win those non-conference games is a must.
“You’ve got to win every game, you’ve got to win your conference and your league to get to the playoffs,” McMartin says. He says you have to go undefeated in nonconference games get to the playoffs if you don’t win your league.
Wartburg College’s season opener comes this Saturday night against Macmurray College of Illinois, and the Knights’ non-conference schedule includes a Bethel University team that finished last year at 8-2. Head coach Rick Willis is also the school’s athletic director and says scheduling non-conference games is a two-way process.
He says the first thing you have to do is find people that are willing to play you, and the better the tradition you have, the harder that can be. Willis adds that the non-conference schedule can affect the team throughout the entire season.
“It’s a mixture, you want to have a chance to develop your team and develop confidence while at the same time testing the team to have them ready for the Iowa Conference Schedule,” Willis says. He says confidence comes from winning, so you have a balance you have to look at.
All eight Iowa Conference teams will be on the field this Saturday in non-conference action.
By Austin Draude, KLMJ, Hampton