Mid-South Conference standings and NAIA national rankings might suggest that Georgetown College football is playing out the string these final three weeks.
Of course, there's so such thing in the most physical of games played by a proud, tradition-rich program. Plus, the Tigers have a schedule that is favorable enough to let them build their resume and see how it all plays out.
The first step for Georgetown (4-3 overall, 1-2 conference) is a relatively short bus trip east on I-64 to Grayson for a battle with Kentucky Christian University (1-6, 0-2).
Kickoff is a set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Don't call it a rivalry yet. GC has won all 10 games since KCU launched its program in 2008, and by an average final score of 43-10.
Last year's final at Toyota Stadium, 59-0, was the most lopsided yet. And even that pales by comparison to KCU's loss last week to No. 9 Bethel by the score of (sit down for this one) 92-12.
The Knights also absorbed a 70-7 defeat against NCAA Division I Lamar University.
They do have a win to their credit, 41-34 over Warner University, and a hard-fought 35-27 loss to Campbellsville. Kentucky Christian's perfect storm against Bethel included allowing 668 yards to the Wildcats while committing five turnovers.
The Knights' offensive strength is the running game with Javin Harrison and De'Anta Sipp, so they have the ability to shorten the game a bit if they can move the chains early. A freshman, Davis Burgin, starts at quarterback for the Knights.
Last year's loss to GC was one of seven games in which Kentucky Christian surrendered 56 of more points.
The closest game in the series was a 24-13 verdict in 2011. KCU's lone winning season was 2012, but the Knights dropped a 27-6 decision to the Tigers, who were ranked No. 3 in the nation at the time.
Second-year head coach Corey Fipps, formerly the offensive coordinator at Missouri State, is already the sixth different leader in KCU history.
By stark contrast, Georgetown needs two wins in final three games against Kentucky Christian, Campbellsville and Cincinnati Christian to secure its 10th consecutive winning season under Bill Cronin, who is 196-56 in 22 seasons at the helm.
No. 21 Georgetown's three losses are against top-10 foes Reinhardt, Bethel and Lindsey Wilson.
The last two defeats were overtime heart-breakers at home: 50-49 to Bethel and 37-31 to LWC. It was the Tigers' fifth consecutive loss to the Blue Raiders.
Senior defensive back Germell Jenkins enjoyed a day for the ages in a losing cause. Jenkins recovered a fumble at the goal line, intercepted a pass, and blocked a field goal on the final play of regulation.
Georgetown sacked LWC quarterback Cameron Dukes six times, two of those by Landon Corolla. Branden Johnson, Jack Sutkamp, Edward Moore and Malik Mundy also got into the act.
Mundy's eight tackles for loss lead the Tigers, who have made 52 such stops as a unit in seven games.
Big plays sank the Tigers, however. They gave up two long touchdown runs to Blake Ingleton, and a touchdown pass from Dukes to Jaleel Warren on Lindsey Wilson's first play of overtime spelled the difference.
The Tigers have employed an old-school offensive approach, running to set up the pass and to control time of possession.
Kyree Hawkins (363 yards, 5 TD) now leads the Tigers in rushing. Daric Pugh (228 yards, 3 TD) is rounding into last season's form after being sidelined early in the season.
GC lost to Lindsey Wilson without then-leading rusher Nick Conley (315 yards, 5 TD) and two of its top receivers, J.J. Ogbogu (18 catches, 4 TD, 22.4 yards per reception) and Bart Bell (18 catches, 247 yards, 2 TD).
Ross Cox now leads the Tigers with 19 receptions. Shawn Gilliam entered last week's game with two catches but had four against the Blue Raiders, including a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. Darius Barbour, Keagan Hinkle and Jake Johnson also have emerged as important targets for sophomore quarterback Hunter Krause, who has thrown for 1,316 yards and 11 touchdowns. Interceptions and sacks have slowed the attack, at times, but the Tigers have gained an element of explosiveness that was missing the past two years.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.