By Chuck Burton
College Sporting News
FRISCO, Tx. — At 7 p.m. Eastern time, Delaware will face off against Eastern Washington in the D-I National Championship game.
Here are my three keys to the game — and a fearless prediction.
1. Bo Levi Mitchell vs. the Blue Hen Secondary.
How Will Eastern Washington QB Bo Levi Mitchell react in his first game back in his home state?
The transfer from SMU undoubtedly watched his alma mater lose in the Armed Forces Bowl to Army — in Texas, no less — and the local FBS team, TCU, beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
He's been competing in an awful lot of high altitude and cold weather games, including some real icebox games on the red turf in Cheney, Washington. Will the Texas Gunslinger be able to sling the football now that he's effectively back home, or will Delaware's tremendous secondary, led by FS Anthony Walters, be up to the challenge of keeping the Eagle passing game in check?
2. AP vs. the Eagle Defensive Line.
Delaware RB Andrew Pierce has been a big reason why the Blue Hens, and the passing of QB Pat Devlin, has been so effective.
But then again, he hasn't seen a pair of defensive tackles like DT Tyler Jolley and DT Renard Williams, either — two aggressive interior linemen that have forced four fumbles and returned three fumbles alone in 2010.
If the Eagle front four can force Pierce and the Blue Hens' stable of running backs to cough up the ball, it could be a great equalizer.
3. Turnover Margin.
This game features two top ten teams in terms of turnover margin — Delaware at No. 3 nationally, and Eastern Washington at No. 10 — but are the result of different forces.
Delaware QB Pat Devlin has only been intercepted twice all year, and the offense's lack of errors has spelled a great turnover margin for the year.
Eastern Washington has turned over the ball a fair amount - but has made up for it in spades, getting an eye-popping 46 takeaways in 14 games.
If Buchanan Award-winning LB J.C. Sherritt and the Eagle defense can force three turnovers — they're averaging more than three a game — while not turning over the ball themselves in the face of Blue Hen defenders like LB Matt Marcorelle, they'll have an excellent chance.
My fearless prediction is that Delaware's efficient offense will continue their way of pinpoint passing and balanced, near mistake-free offense — and that Mr. Levi Mitchell's worst instincts of gunslinging will make Eastern Washington pay.
The Eagles won't win the turnover battle, and won't win the championship as a result.
Delaware 35, Eastern Washington 13