Photos provided by Wabash College
Wabash College football coach Chris Creighton talks with players during practice this week in preparation for Saturday’s Monon Bell game.
Photos provided by Wabash College Wabash College football coach Chris Creighton talks with players during practice this week in preparation for Saturday’s Monon Bell game.

Chris Creighton treats the Monon Bell game differently.

He can't help get caught up in the tradition - or the rivalry between Wabash and DePauw.

But this year, the sixth-year Wabash College football coach wants Little Giants players to seize the moment.

Creighton knows it could be their last game of the season - and he expects players to go all out in their "bowl game."

"When it's going to be your last game, it allows and forces you to realize the moment," Creighton said. "We've always looked at the Monon Bell game as a bowl game. We'd like to play in a bowl game and in the playoffs every year.

"But this year, it'll be just a bowl game. It doesn't take away from the game at all. If anything, it makes it even bigger."

Wabash (7-2) will play host to DePauw (6-3) in the 113th Monon Bell Classic Saturday at 1:06 p.m. at Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium.

For both teams, this game will likely cap their season.

Wabash (7-2, 6-1 NCAC) clinched a share of the North Coast Athletic Conference title last week and still has a slim chance at making the playoffs.

If Hiram (0-9, 0-6 NCAC) defeats Wittenberg (6-3, 5-1 NCAC), Wabash would win the conference championship outright and make the playoffs.

But Creighton acknowledges that scenario is highly unlikely.

As for DePauw, the Tigers (6-3, 3-3 SCAC) are tied for third in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference and have will not advance to the playoffs.

This year's game has two intriguing subplots, with the main one being former Crawfordsville High School graduate Matt Walker returning to his hometown for the first time as a head coach.

After former DePauw coach Tim Rogers resigned, Walker was hired only a few weeks before the season started.

And while he's excited to be coaching, he knows he's in for a battle.

Walker said the Tigers need to keep the Little Giants' offense from getting comfortable.

Wabash ranks first in passing offense (300.9 yards per game) and second in total offense (434.9 yards per game) and scoring (37 points per game) in the North Coast Athletic Conference.

And Little Giants senior quarterback Dustin Huff also leads the conference in passing and total offense.

Walker expects the Wabash's offense to rack up yards but acknowledged if DePauw takes away its big-play ability, it'll help keep the Little Giants off the scoreboard.

"I think if you let (Wabash) get comfortable, they'll set tone," he said. "We've got to take something away from them. They're so talented at the skill positions, it's impossible to think that we will completely shut down an offense like that.

"We have to shut down one of the phases."

Both teams' starting quarterbacks will also be making their first Monon Bell starts.

Huff has watched the past three games from the sidelines, while DePauw freshman quarterback Spud Dick will play in his first Bell game.

And Creighton isn't concerned about Huff one bit.

"There will be absolutley no issue of keeping Huff calm," Creighton said. "Not even the Bell game can rattle (Huff)."