Heidelberg's game against Capital last season represented a turning point in the minds of some in the media and also some of the HU players.
The Student Princes, who for four seasons had hovered around the .500 mark and had never beaten Capital, erupted in the 2011 game between the two schools. Heidelberg dominated every phase of the game and won, 55-3. HU went on to finish 8-2 and was in the Division III playoff hunt until the final week.
This year, Heidelberg has picked up where it left off, winning all four of its games and doing so in convincing fashion. The program that just six years ago lost 36 consecutive games, finds itself ranked 22nd in a national poll, and is, for the first time in a while, going into today's game with Capital as something of a favorite.
While HU is riding an early wave of success, Capital has stumbled. It comes into today's game in Bexley with a 1-3 record, and was beaten badly a week ago by John Carroll, 37-10.
But Heidelberg coach Mike Hallett said he expects the Crusaders to come out inspired and ready to cause the Student Princes problems.
"Capital's having Homecoming, they're celebrating their 1987 conference championship team before the game. So they're gonna have very high emotions," Hallett said.
Capital has been able to run the ball effectively thanks to back Bo Hardy, who comes in averaging almost 114 yards a game. Though Hardy didn't play last week against John Carroll, Hallett said Heidelberg is preparing as though freshman will play.
"Very good running back, probably the best we've seen this year," Hallett said. "Their offensive line is very agile, they move well. This is a very good offense we're facing in terms of the run game and their work up front."
Capital has used two quarterbacks this season, and Hallett said it appears Alex Nydza - a former linebacker - has assumed the role as starter. Nydza has thrown for 197 yards over two games, and has run for 96.
Hallett said Heidelberg's defense is a little "banged up" going into today.
"We're good, but if we keep losing some guys, then we're gonna be concerned about some of our depth," he said. "It's not terrible, but it's a little bit of a concern.
"The biggest thing for us is we've got to do a great job in run defense," Hallett said, "which we feel has been pretty good for us. The coaches at Capital do a really good job of being creative and finding some wrinkles we haven't seen before, so our guys will have to weather the storm on that."
On offense, Heidelberg will be facing a squad that's strength is at the line.
"(Capital's) got some guys up front that are really, really good players," Hallett said. "They certainly are forcing us to do a great job with preparation and making sure we've got our guys on their guys at all times."
Kickoff is at 2 p.m.