Special to The Sun
Central Oklahoma begins a season-ending two-game road swing Saturday when the Bronchos travel to Bolivar, Mo. to take on Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association rival Southwest Baptist. Kickoff at 3,000-seat Plaster Stadium is 1 p.m.
UCO is 1-7 on the season and in league play after ending a nine-game losing streak last week. The Bearcats are 1-8 overall and 1-7 in the conference.
The Bronchos were picked 10th by the coaches and 11th by the media in the pre-season conference poll. SBU was tabbed 13th in both polls.
The Bronchos have lost 18 of their last 19 road games and Central Oklahoma ended a 15-game road losing streak that dated back to 2009 in its final away contest last season, routing Lincoln 56-25.
UCO is 0-3 away from home this season.
Central Oklahoma jumped out to a 24-7 second-quarter lead and then held on down the stretch for a 49-42 Homecoming win over Lincoln last Saturday in Edmond.
Joshua Birmingham rushed for 130 yards and four touchdowns, Marquez Clark had 284 all-purpose yards and one score and Kenny Allen made 14 tackles with a 5.0 average for loss in leading the Bronchos.
The Bronchos have won 31 conference/division championships. UCO has won more games than any other Oklahoma college team besides the University of Oklahoma.
Central Oklahoma has won seven or more games in a season 38 times and has had seven Harlon Hill Trophy candidates: RB Tyrone Jones (1993), RB Joe Aska (‘94), RB Reggie Donner (‘98) and WR Dee Dee Carter (2001).
Running back Joshua Birmingham broke loose last week against Lincoln in racking up 193 all-purpose yards. He rushed 29 times for 130 yards and four touchdowns, caught three passes for 43 yards and added a 20-yard kickoff return in UCO’s 49-42 win. It was the second four-TD rushing game of the season for Birmingham, who scored on runs of four, 11, 14 and 16 yards. It was also his 17th-career 100-yard rushing game, including the third this year.
Birmingham is second in the MIAA and 11th in NCAA Division II in scoring (11.2 points/game) while also ranking fourth in all-purpose yards (151.9/game) and fifth in rushing yards (96.1/game) in the conference.
He’s rushed for 769 yards and 15 TDs in 149 attempts (5.2/carry), caught 23 passes for 221 yards (9.6/catch) and returned 16 kickoffs for 230 yards (14.4/return) this year. Birmingham has tallied at least one TD in 30-of-40 career games at UCO and is the school’s all-time leader in points (354) and all-purpose yards (5,849).
He also ranks second in career rushing yards (3,974) and receptions (149), needing 386 yards to break the rushing record and 25 catches to surpass the receptions mark.
All UCO games will be broadcast live on KNAH (FM 99.7) and KOAG-1640AM. Veteran broadcaster David Garrett calls the action, with former UCO All-American John Fitzgerald adding color commentary.