MACON, Ga. (MERCER RELEASE) – The Mercer University football team begins a stretch of five-straight conference games Saturday when the Bears travel to Campbell for a 4 p.m. matchup with the Camels at Barker-Lane Stadium.
The Camels are looking to secure their second home victory in five attempts this season, while Mercer is in search of its first road victory after playing six of seven games at home to start the season.
After opening the year with six of their first seven games at home, the Bears suddenly face back-to-back road contests in the state of North Carolina against teams with a combined record of 1-13.
With a perfect 6-0 record at home, the Bears boast the most home wins of any NCAA Division I FBS or FCS team in the country. Six FBS programs and four FCS teams are 5-0 at home.
Mercer is one of 19 FCS programs in the country with one loss or less. All but four of those teams are ranked in the latest FCS Coaches Poll.
Currently averaging 8,876 fans per game through six home games, Mercer is on pace to record the largest single-season attendance average of any team in the PFL over the last five years. Morehead State's mark of 6,166 fans per game for five contests in 2011 leads the league over the last five seasons.
Saturday's contest will feature the top two rushing offenses in the Pioneer Football League, as Mercer's 273.4 yards per game leads the league and ranks fifth in the country, while Campbell's 271.7 is second in the conference.
With both offenses relying on the run, Mercer's rush defense that ranks No. 2 in the nation at 80.1 yards per game will have the edge, as Campbell gives up 192.1 yards per game on the ground.
The Camels rank No. 10 in the conference in red zone defense, allowing 28 scores in 31 chances, including 24 touchdowns. Mercer red zone offense, which ranks fourth in the league, has scored on 30 of its 33 trips inside the 20 yard line, including 22 touchdowns.
Mercer's fourth down conversion percentage of .900 (9-10) ranks third in the country behind Lehigh at .909 (10-11) and Coastal Carolina at 1.000 (5-5).
Payton Usher leads all freshmen in the country with 101.0 rushing yards per game. He has four games of 100+ yards and is averaging 6.9 yards per carry in 2013.
To go along with the longest pass play in the country this season, John Russ is second in the nation in passing yards per completion at 16.69. He trails only Keiran McDonagh of Portland State at 17.58 yards per completion.
John Russ and Payton Usher have landed on the watch list for the nation's top freshman according to the College Football Performance Awards. The list is the second for Usher after being named to the Jerry Rice Award watch list as the top FCS Freshman in the land.
Josh Jones' 93-yard touchdown reception from John Russ in the second quarter against Valparaiso marked the longest pass reception at the FCS level in 2013.
Alex Avant's interception return for a touchdown to give Mercer a 17-0 lead on Drake made national headlines and earned the top play on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10. The highlight was also featured on Yahoo Sports and garnered 30,000 views on You Tube in less than 48 hours.
Alex Avant's national attention for his interception return is only a glimpse into his performance over the last three weeks. He has 19 total tackles in the last three games, one tackle for loss, an interception and 35-yard return for a score.