Yes, it's Tommie-Johnnie rivalry week in MIAC football. Here are some quick facts for folks making plans to drive north to Collegeville for Saturday's game, the 2012 conference opener for both teams:
Unranked St. John's (2-0) plays host to No. 6-ranked St. Thomas (2-0). Kickoff is 1 p.m. (no 10-minute radio kickoff delay) at Clemens Stadium, but parking will disappear soon after 11 a.m.
(The last time these teams played in Collegeville, late-arriving fans were stuck in traffic and didn't get into the stadium until the second quarter, so be warned.)
There's no advance ticket sale but the stadium can absorb all comers between seating and standing room areas. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students.
There's no live video webcast. The game can be heard on WCCO AM 830 with Dave Lee and Eric Nelson on the call. There's also live stats by SJU, and Tommie Media will have some in-game updates.
St. John's website parking/travel preview:
St. John's live stats:
WCCO Radio Listen Live:
1) Saturday marks SJU head coach John Gagliardi's 600th game with the Johnnies in season No. 60 (he also coached four years as a head coach at Carroll (Mont.) College)
2) The next four Tommie-Johnnie football games come early in the season. After Saturday game in Collegeville, the teams play again at O’Shaughnessy Stadium in the 2013 conference opener on Sept. 21; play at UST again in 2014 in MIAC week two on Sept. 27; and play in Collegeville in MIAC week two in 2015 on Sept. 26.
3) This marks the 81st all-time football meeting between the schools, the 61st season in a row the schools will play, and comes 111 years after their initial clash, on Thanksgiving Day, 1901, at St. Paul's Lexington Park.
4) The Johnnies lead the all-time series, 49-30-1, including a 43-16 record since John Gagliardi arrived in 1953. UST ended a 12-game losing streak in the series in 2010 as it won 27-26 in overtime in Collegeville. The Toms came back to zap the Johnnies 63-7 in St. Paul in the 2011 meeting. UST went on a 13-1 record and berth in D-III playoff semifinals, while SJU won its last four games of season to finish 6-4.
5) St. Thomas has won 40 of its last 44 games. It has won 26 consecutive regular-season games and 10 consecutive MIAC road games.
6) The Tommies will attempt to build their first three-game win streak in the series since St. Thomas won four in a row against SJU from 1954-57
7) The 2010 meeting in Collegeville drew a Division III record crowd estimated at 16.421; the 2011 game at UST's O'Shaughnessy Stadium drew a UST record crowd estimated at 10,425.
8) In just five seasons, Glenn Caruso (45-7 won loss) has already moved into fourth in coaching victories at UST and is on pace to move past Frank Deig (56 wins) into first as early as the 2013 season
9) St. Thomas has won its last 38 games under Caruso when it scores 21 or more points
10) The Johnnies installed new turf this summer at Clemens Field. They also have new uniforms with a switch to adidas with stripe-less white pants.
11) In his first career start on Sept. 1, Tommie sophomore QB Matt O'Connell scored the winning TD on a 32-yard run in the final 3:00 to beat UW-Eau Claire, 27-24. UST won its first game since 1993 in which it overcame a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit. Last Saturday O'Connell passed for 403 yards (301 in the first half) in a 43-9 home win over UW-River Falls.
12) Turnovers will be a stat to watch on Saturday. The Johnnies have no turnovers in their first two games, while UST has six, including two lost fumbles in the red zone.
13) SJU has won six in a row since mid-October 2011 and averaging 41 ppg during that win streak.
14) MIAC institutions -- including independent Macalester -- are a combined 15-0 in football thus far. That's the best pre-MIAC start in at least 50 years and believed to be the best ever.
15) In 16 games over the last two seasons, the Tommie defense has 23 interceptions, 124 tackles for loss and 53 sacks while holding teams to a 22.5 percent conversion rate on third downs.
16) Glenn Caruso will discuss the game on his weekly WCCO radio show Thursday at 6:30 p.m.