BLOOMINGTON — Rest assured, no one around Illinois Wesleyan's football program is complaining. Why would they?
The Titans are ranked No. 11 in the D3football.com poll. They have compiled a 5-1 overall record and 3-1 mark in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.
Yet Saturday's 1 p.m. homecoming game against Carroll (1-4, 1-2) at Tucci Stadium would be the perfect time for something that has been missing thus far in CCIW action.
Namely, an IWU blowout victory.
"Some games our offense carries more weight and some games the defense carries more weight," said Titans senior defensive end John Nolan. "A breakout game would be huge for momentum for this program going forward."
The IWU offense put up four touchdowns for only the second time this season during last week's 28-10 victory at Augustana. However, IWU stalled in the second half and didn't score until there was 5:09 left.
Defensively, the Titans allowed Augie to drive down the field with the opening kickoff before giving up their first rushing TD of the season. The Vikings' offense couldn't do much after that, though.
IWU coach Norm Eash said he would love to have a "wow game" in front of a homecoming crowd that will include players from the Titans' 1996 and 2001 CCIW championship teams.
"People want to come out and see who we are and what we look like. We're a ranked team. We've got a special season going," said Eash. "It's a great venue for us and we should take advantage of that."
IWU has the CCIW's leading rusher in Morgan Alexander. The junior tailback has gained 664 yards on 128 carries. He has run for three touchdowns and caught two TD passes.
Quarterback Brandon Bauer has thrown for 1,098 yards and 11 TDs, including three last week, but is completing only 56.4 percent of his attempts.
"I would like to see our passing game flourish a little bit more," said Eash. "I don't think it's anything anyone is doing against us. It's us making mistakes, getting something called back."
Nolan is part of a unit that ranks No. 1 in the CCIW in rushing defense (59.3 yards per game) and scoring defense (12.8 points).
After sustaining a broken hand in the preseason a year ago and playing little the rest of the season, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Nolan has flourished in a starting role. He has 5½ tackles for loss to go with two sacks and a fumble recovery.
"Some (offensive) linemen have some weight on me, sometimes 90 pounds and 6-7 inches," said Nolan. "Coach (Jeff) McDonald game plans and puts us in the best position to make plays and do the best of our ability."
Carroll returned to the CCIW last year after a 24-year absence and will be playing in Bloomington for the first time since 1991. The Pioneers led 14-3 at halftime against Elmhurst last week before suffering a 17-14 loss on their homecoming.
Eash has cautioned IWU not to think this is the same team that the Titans hammered, 62-10, a year ago in Waukesha, Wis.
"Last year was their first year back in the CCIW, and I think it caught them by surprise," said Eash. "They've gotten themselves accustomed to playing in the CCIW and they're playing much better. Our task defensively is to shut down their playmakers."
Carroll's Parker Zitzke is the CCIW's leading receiver with 31 catches for 314 yards and three TDs. Quarterback Colton Bahling is tied with Bauer for third in the league in passing (72 of 131, 915 yards, seven TDs), while tailback JJ Keels is sixth in rushing with 271 yards on 53 carries.