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Wittenberg football could play postseason game without reaching playoffs

Jan. 10—The Wittenberg Tigers could play a postseason game next season even if they don't make the NCAA Division III football playoffs.

Four Division III conferences, including the North Coast Athletic Conference, announced the inaugural Opendorse Bowl Series on Tuesday. The top highest-ranked non-playoff teams from the NCAC, Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, the Ohio Athletic Conference and the Presidents' Athletic Conference — one team from each conference — will play two games on Nov. 23, 2024, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

"I think I speak for all four conferences in expressing my excitement for this event," said Sarah Otey, OAC Commissioner, in a press release. "The four leagues been considering bowl options for several years, but wanted to make sure we were able to deliver a special student-athlete experience and do so in a way that invests in our local communities. The opportunity to host an event like this at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium — and provide Division III student-athletes a chance to play in such an incredible venue — will be great for our conferences, the sport, and all of Division III."

Opendorse describes itself as the "world's leading athlete influencer platform" and will sponsor the series wile providing name, image and likeness serves in the four conferences.

Wittenberg finished 7-3 overall last season and 6-2 in the NCAC, tying for second with Denison and Wabash behind DePauw, which earned the NCAC's playoff bid. The league hasn't received an at-large bid since 2014.

The OAC, long dominated by D-III powerhouse Mount Union, has 10 teams from around Ohio. Eight football teams from Ohio and Indiana make up the HCAC. The PAC has 11 programs from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.