The Azusa Pacific University football team is hoping that a change of scenery will improve its fortunes.
The Cougars will play their first game in the new 3,500-seat campus stadium against the University of San Diego at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The old stadium held about 1,000.
There is nothing wrong with Azusa Pacific's 2-0-2 record, but the Cougars, hoping to contend for the NAIA Division II title, did not expect two early ties against NCAA Division III teams.
Azusa Pacific tied Occidental and Menlo, both by 20-20 scores. In fact, Azusa has tied three of its last six games, going back to a 38-38 tie with San Francisco State in the next-to-last game in 1985.
San Diego, 3-2, was defeated by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps last week, 13-9.
While Azusa Pacific's passing game has been a struggle, the Cougars have one of the premier small-college running backs in the nation in senior Christian Okoye. The 6-3, 250-pounder, the school's all-time rusher, has run for 584 yards and eight touchdowns in 85 carries.
But the Cougars' three quarterbacks have completed only 22 of 67 passes for 232 yards.
In other games Saturday matching four-year colleges, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps visits UC Santa Barbara at 1:30 p.m. and Occidental plays at La Verne and Pomona-Pitzer visits Whittier in 7:30 p.m. games.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps takes a 3-1 record into its non-conference game against Santa Barbara (2-3). One of the key players for the Stags is running back Chris Dabrow, who has rushed for 521 yards and six touchdowns in 84 carries.
Dabrow turned in a strong effort in a 13-9 victory over the University of San Diego last week, rushing for 150 yards in 34 carries.
The La Verne-Occidental game matches two of the top teams in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Occidental is 2-1-1 and La Verne 3-2.
La Verne has one of the top passers in the conference in quarterback Mark Van Allen, who has completed 62 of 121 for 833 yards and eight touchdowns. Van Allen had one of his best games in a 19-14 victory over Pomona-Pitzer last week, passing for 327 yards and three touchdowns.
Many of the top high school and community college runners in the state will compete in the annual Mt. San Antonio College Cross-Country Invitational that starts Friday in Walnut.
The college division will be run Friday and the high school division Oct. 24 and 25.
Among the top college teams are Mt. SAC, Taft and El Camino. The top out-of-state entrant could be Central of Arizona.