UW-Eau Claire at UW-La Crosse
Game time: 11:30 a.m., La Crosse.
Radio: WDRK (99.9-FM).
Records: UW-Eau Claire 3-5 overall (1-4 in WIAC), UW-La Crosse 5-3 (3-2 in WIAC).
Last time out: UW-Eau Claire saw its losing streak balloon to three games with a 40-12 loss to UW-Stevens Point last Saturday. The Blugolds struck first on a Josiah Johnson pass to Darius Jones, but the Pointers responded with 37 straight points before UW-EC was able to get on the board again late in the fourth quarter.
UW-La Crosse had the lead in the fourth quarter but was unable to hold on and complete the upset of No. 3 UW-Whitewater last Saturday, falling 21-17 on the road. Evan Lewandowski connected with Cole Spieker for a pair of touchdowns, but the Warhawks notched the eventual game-winner with 8:36 remaining on a Jarrod Ware 10-yard run.
History: The Blugolds ended last season on a down note, failing to find the end zone in a 42-0 loss to UW-La Crosse at Carson Park. The UW-EC offense managed to put up 314 yards, with since-departed receiver Leeshaun Evans running for 99 yards, but couldn’t stop the Eagles from pushing its lead in the all-time series to 56-28-2.
Belot watch: UW-Eau Claire played last week without running back Austin Belot, who left the Blugolds’ game against UW-Platteville a week earlier with a leg injury. Coach Wesley Beschorner said the junior back was day-to-day in his weekly media availability Monday.
He still has rushed for 287 yards more than the second-leading rusher in the WIAC despite missing action. If he can’t go, Conrad Bolz will start in his place. He performed admirably last week, rushing for 97 yards.
Under the spotlight: This week’s matchup is the first Blugolds game of the year aired on broadcast television. UW-Eau Claire and UW-La Crosse’s annual battle has been broadcast on WQOW and WXOW for the last 26 years and had kicked off at 11:30 a.m. every year until 2018, when the game time was pushed back to avoid a conflict with the Wisconsin Badgers.
Have a day: Blugolds wideout Will Adair set career highs last week for receptions (5), receiving yards (71) and rushing yards (57). He’s also filling in on return duties with the injury to Keshaun Story, who has missed the last two games.
For the foes: The Eagles, who boast the third-highest scoring offense in the WIAC, have put up big numbers against conference foes, notably 63 points against UW-River Falls and 40 against UW-Stout. That starts with quarterback Evan Lewandowski, who threw nine of his 22 TDs against the Falcons. His favorite target is Cole Spieker, who leads the WIAC with 6.88 receptions, 121.6 receiving yards and 8.2 points per game. He isn’t the only weapon, as Jake Simuncak leads the league in all-purpose yards. The high-powered offense has helped the Eagles win in shootouts, considering the team is also seventh in the WIAC in defensive yards allowed.
— Jack Goods