LINDSBORG — The last time Bethany College had a team on its schedule that it was expected to beat, it turned in its most ignominious performance of the season.
That was Week 2 of KCAC play when the Swedes, coming off a huge road win over nationally ranked Ottawa, returned home to play supposed second-divisioner and at the time winless Saint Mary. After scoring easily on their first series of the game and geared to blow out the Spires, it all went south for the Swedes in a desultory, turnover-induced 43-19 loss.
This week, the Swedes take on a Kansas Wesleyan team whose defense has turned to tissue the last two weeks, as Friends and Tabor have taken turns making mincemeat out of the Coyotes’ defending 11. Wesleyan has surrendered a staggering 123 points in the two lopsided losses.
But this is bitter arch-rival Wesleyan we’re talking about and even games between the schools that look lopsided on paper sometimes play out differently on the field.
The teams renew their rivalry at 7 p.m. Saturday at Salina Stadium.
Bethany is 2-2 in the KCAC and 3-3 on the year as the Swedes have consistently been inconsistent. You never know from week to week what this team has up its sleeve, one week an offensive juggernaut and the next week a defensive fortress.
Bethany rang up more than 500 yards of offense two weeks ago in a narrow loss to Sterling, yet limped to little more than 200 last week in a defensive-fueled victory over Southwestern.
Kansas Wesleyan, 1-3 and 1-5, certainly has the offensive tools to be competitive as quarterback Jake Curran leads the KCAC in passing while Tyler Sachs is perhaps the most purposeful back in the conference. Last year he was mainly a power running back, but this year he’s become a two-way threat as he touches it almost as much receiving as he does running.
Bethany can ill afford a slip-up. In the next two weeks it plays at Friends and then hosts Tabor, two of the four teams currently atop the KCAC. However, the four leaders all play each other this week, so it’s a guaranteed two-team tie at the top by the time the final whistle blows Saturday night.