McDaniel has won only two of its past 10 football games at Johns Hopkins, a performance that has been particularly troubling for the Westminster school.
Green Terror teams, before slipping the past two seasons, had a run of five straight NCAA playoff berths.
Part of the reason for McDaniel's slide has been an improved Hopkins program that keeps flirting with its first NCAA playoff berth.
At 1 p.m. tomorrow at Hopkins, the longtime rivals will clash for the 83rd time (Hopkins has won three straight and leads, 42-35-5) in what some around Homewood are calling the biggest game in the history of Blue Jays football.
The Blue Jays (7-2, 3-2 in the Centennial Conference) must win to keep their Centennial Conference championship and NCAA playoff hopes alive.
If the Green Terror (6-2 , 4-1 in Centennial) wins, it would emerge as the Centennial's outright champion and, thus, gain an automatic NCAA tournament bid.
A McDaniel loss would set up a possibility of a five-way tie for the league title, a happening that has occurred only twice in the history of college football. Muhlenberg, Franklin & Marshall, and Dickinson are the three other schools that could close the season with 4-2 records, joining McDaniel and Hopkins at the top.
Although the Blue Jays could receive an at-large NCAA berth if they lose tomorrow, coach Jim Margraff doesn't want to be in that position.
"You win the league, and you go to the NCAAs," Margraff said. "That's the way it should be. The league coaches came up with this strength-of-schedule thing to break ties and avoid coin flips, and I'm in favor of it."
Margraff said his players can blame no one but themselves for their two costly league losses, but he said his squad now has running back Adam Cook healthy and ready to go.
"Adam has been slowed all season by injuries," Margraff said. "But he looked good last week [in 38-14 victory over Hampden-Sydney]."
McDaniel has a strong ground game behind junior running back Broderick Maybank (892 yards, 5.9 yards a carry), sophomore quarterback Brad Baer (487 yards) and senior fullback Jason Hartman (310 yards and eight touchdowns).
Baer has also completed 57 of 135 passes for 734 yards with no interceptions,
"We wanted to diversify our offense," said McDaniel coach Tim Keating, whose teams are 5-5-1 against Hopkins. "The ground game has been pretty successful for us. We have some depth in our backfield."
In another important Division III state game tomorrow, unbeaten Salisbury (9-0) and its powerful junior fullback, Leroy Satchell, will meet Frostburg State (2-7) at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium at 2 p.m.
Satchell passed the 1,000-yard milestone this season, gaining 141 yards and scoring three touchdowns in a 42-7 rout of Shenandoah last Saturday.
Frostburg has pulled off two straight upsets of the Sea Gulls in this annual cross-state rivalry for bragging rights.
Salisbury is ranked fifth in the nation in Division III.