Eau Claire (WQOW) -- Saturday at Carson Park will be the 80th meeting all-time on the football field between UW-Eau Claire and UW-La Crosse.
The Eagles lead the all-time series, but the Blugolds have won four of the last five matchups. This year, both teams are 1-1 in the WIAC.
"Obviously, Stout's the big one for us," says UWEC left guard Jake Holterman, "but La Crosse is definitely another big one, too, obviously, it's on TV so we always get excited for that, it's different because we always play them early in the morning. We all have friends who go down there, we have friends who play on the team down there, so you know, it's definitely one of the bigger rivalries we have."
"It's on TV," says UWEC senior quarterback Austin Neu, "so it's a good motivator, and we got a lot of friends who go to school there, I know a lot of guys on the other team, so it definitely motivates us and it brings a good rivalry out between the two teams."
"For some reason, the 11:30 game against La Crosse every year is a lot of fun,"says UWEC senior safety Kyle Thorpe, "everyone looks forward to it, obviously, you guys are there so it adds a little kick to it, too."
Both the Blugolds and Eagles gutted out conference wins two weeks ago, but both are coming off one-sided losses. UWEC players say they're determined to prove they're a better team than what their 1-4 overall record shows.
"Absolutely, we all believe that we're a good team," Neu says, "the record obviously doesn't indicate that, we're 1-and-4 right now. It's the first five games of the season, we have another half of the season left, and we're going to focus on those five games, one week at a time, and hopefully turn it around."
"We had very high expectations going into this season," says UWEC defensive end Jimmy Hall, "and we still believe that those weren't false hopes or too high of hopes, we just feel that we need to start playing better, play to our full potential and we'll be all right."
There's sure to be a few former players tuning in or logging on to watch Saturday's game, including Menomonie native and 2011 UWL grad Jason Church. The U.S. Army Second Lieutenant is currently at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center just outside of Washington, D.C., recovering after being injured in an explosion late August in Afghanistan.
Church has another surgery scheduled for Friday, but tells News 18 Sports Director Bob Bradovich Wednesday night via Skype he'll be watching on his computer come Saturday.
"I know it's a great rivalry game, and I hope it's the score that I like to see and hear," says Church, a former Eagles linebacker and fullback, "and then for UWEC, it's a great rivalry, and I always respected the program, it's definitely a great rivalry to have and I appreciate that."
Blugolds head coach Todd Glaser says the Eagles present various challenges.
"They run the ball extremely well," says Glaser, "they're physical up front, they've got good running backs, they're quarterback is an athlete and can throw the ball down the field, and then defensively, they're really fast and they tackle very well, so you're going to have to stay in your game plan, and not have those peaks and valleys, if we have too many of those valleys it's going to be a long game for us."
You can watch Saturday's game live on WQOW 18, or online at www.wqow.com. The pregame show begins at 11:00 A.M., with the kickoff set for 11:30 A.M. We'll have more with Jason Church during the halftime show.
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