It's one Frontier Conference football heavyweight after another for Rocky Mountain College.
The Battlin' Bears, ranked 22nd nationally in the NAIA, will go up against No. 17 Montana Tech Saturday afternoon in Rocky's homecoming game on Herb Klindt Field.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. between the Bears (2-1 in conference and 3-1 overall) and Orediggers (2-1 and 2-1).
Rocky is coming off a tough 19-6 loss last weekend at 12-time reigning league champion and national runner-up Carroll College. Meantime, Tech escaped with a 30-24 double-overtime victory over Montana Western in Dillon.
Earlier this season, Tech also upended then No. 2-ranked Carroll 37-20 in Butte, ending a 16-game losing streak to the Saints.
"They're sky-high right now," Rocky coach Brian Armstrong said of the Orediggers. "They're playing well, they're confident and they've got some swagger to them.
"I know they're coming to Billings and planning on running that win streak to three. We've got to be ready to go."
The Bears and Orediggers have engaged in some wild, high-scoring games the past two years in Billings.
Rocky won 44-37 with a Pick-6 in the closing minutes last fall. The Bears also prevailed 48-38 in 2010.
In taking on Tech, Rocky will be looking to recover quickly from its setback at Carroll. The Bears performed well defensively, but were stymied offensively by the Saints' sturdy defense.
"We've got a pretty resilient group," Armstrong said of his young team. "I think our kids just relish the opportunity to go play football, more than who we're playing, where it's at or whether it's homecoming."
Saturday's contest will feature two of the NAIA's most prolific quarterbacks this season in Bryce Baker of Rocky and Nick Baker of Tech.
The Orediggers' Baker, a junior lefty, is averaging 291 yards passing per game with seven TD strikes. Rocky's Baker, a sophomore, is averaging 260 yards with 10 touchdown passes this season.
Besides its aerial attack, Tech can also throw running back Pat Hansen into the mix.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound redshirt sophomore from Ekalaka has rushed for 289 yards and five TDs this season.
"He's got great vision," Armstrong said of Hansen. "He is a low, compact guy. He can jump-cut and move and do those things. They've got a pretty darn big offensive line, and when he gets in behind those guys, he's tough to see. They've got a pretty good scheme for him, too."
In 2011, Hansen gained 1,383 yards and scored 12 TDs, ranking third among the leading rushers in the NAIA.
Hansen is currently leading the conference in rushing, while Rocky freshman Andre McCullouch is tops in receiving.
McCullouch, who also possesses some great quickness, has caught 29 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns.
Last weekend, Rocky's physical defense clamped down on the Saints' running and passing, in what was a 6-3 game after three quarters.
"I was real proud of their effort," Armstrong said. "We're going to need the same type of performance this week."
Rocky's offense, however, was held without a TD for just the second time since the 2007 season.
"We've got a fairly young group out there offensively," Armstrong said. "When you're not playing well and the other team is getting after you it's just human nature to kind of lose your focus, lose your composure and get frustrated. The next evolution for us offensively is to be able to overcome some adversity and to respond."
Armstrong said this year's eight-team Frontier is "a pretty balanced league top to bottom. It's really about who has the depth, who can stay healthy and who executes ...
"You can play 80 snaps in a game, but it comes down to three or four or five critical snaps. And who is making hay on those critical snaps are the ones winning football games."
NOTES: Rocky's game will be broadcast on Billings radio station KFHW, 101.1 FM. It can also be heard on the Internet at www.mtsportscast.com. ... The Orediggers have a 33-7 record against Rocky since 1992, including a 21-3 mark in their last 24 meetings. ... Rocky hasn't won at Tech since 1999, but will not play there this season. ... Rocky middle linebacker Josh Johnson is averaging 10 tackles per game. Tech defensive back Nathan Kobold is averaging 10.3 stops. Lineman Doug Karmowski of Rocky has 3.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss in the season's first four games.