Carson-Newman beat the Pioneers 35-0 in 1904 and enjoys a 31-9-2 advantage all-time. Only the Tennessee-Vanderbilt rivalry is older than the C-N-TC matchup. The Vols and Commodores began play in 1896.
Carson-Newman rides a four-game win streak in to the contest, while Tusculum enters off a 23-20 overtime heartbreaker to Mars Hill.
The Pioneers picked off five passes against the Lions and have forced 20 turnovers on the season. However, what stood out to Carson-Newman head coach Ken Sparks was a resurgent Tusculum running game.
"They ran it fairly well against Mars Hill, so I guess their answer to take some pressure off of (record-setting quarterback Bo Cordell) is to establish some running game," Sparks said. "That's a little different for Tusculum."
B.J. Spradlin carried the ball 36 times for 99 yards against the Lions while Cordell was held to a season low 176 yards through the air. Cordell is already the SAC's all-time leading passer with 11,867 yards. The junior needs 73 more completions to take over the Division II record held by Southwest Missouri's Steven Gachette (1,119).
While Carson-Newman's ground game has featured seven different players who've found the end zone – led by quarterback Brandon Haywood's (Rockmart, Ga.) 11 scores, Cordell has disseminated 17 passing touchdowns among nine different receivers.
Second team All-SAC tight end Wesley Powell has accounted for two of them, and Sparks knows the 6-10, 255 pound hulk is a load.
"You've got to bite him on the ankle because you certainly can't get up where he is," Sparks said. "You've got to do the best you can to try to make some calls to keep him from getting in places where he can catch it."
A win over the Pioneers will put Sparks in ninth place by himself on the all-time wins list with 306. Sparks and the Eagles tied Frosty Westering with win 305 against Brevard last week.
The Eagles got off to a slow start against the Tornados before outscoring BC 28-12 in the second half with a pair of Brandon Baker (Miami, Fla.) touchdown runs. Sparks said Carson-Newman can ill afford a first half like the Eagles had last week against Tusculum.
"We've preached forever that it takes one play to win and one play to lose, so you need to play every play in such a way that you can be proud of yourself. To me winning is doing your very best regardless of what the scoreboard says."
Carson-Newman and Tusculum kickoff for the 44th time at 1:30 Saturday. Coverage on the Coca-Cola Eagles Sports Network begins at 12:30 p.m. with the Farm Bureau Tailgate Show. Eagle fans can tune in to Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville) or log on at cneagles.com to listen.