Modesto Junior College and College of San Mateo, California's top two rushing teams, attack with different systems.
The Pirates operate from the spread and often pound inside, while the Bulldogs align tight and run the option. Neither team huddles and, so far, neither team has lost.
Such is the story line for a fascinating non-league game Saturday night at MJC Stadium. San Mateo is ranked sixth in Northern California, four spots ahead of Modesto.
"They're Georgia Tech and we're Oregon," MJC coach Sam Young said. "This will be a good measuring stick to see where we're at."
Modesto (3-0) averages 512 rushing yards per game by racing up and down the field, not unlike the Ducks, and exacting a toll on weary opponents during the second half.
San Mateo (3-0) confounds its opponents with an option attack engineered by quarterback John Willis. He takes a direct snap from center and options the ball either to the fullback or wings on either side.
The Bulldogs have produced 463 rushing yards per game, 395 during last week's 35-29 victory over Diablo Valley. If you've watched Georgia Tech, you've got a head start on San Mateo.
"It's a unique offense and very hard to prepare for in one week," Young said in reference to CSM. "If you try to defend it just one way, they'll find a way to counter it."
Most encouraging for Modesto is how it's bounced back from two early deficits on the road. The Pirates gave up a quick touchdown last week at Laney but quickly recovered and eventually won 40-27.
Quarterback TeeJay Gordon threw an interception on the game's first series but, like his teammates, stabilized and eventually completed 13 of 20 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Bryan Morris snagged two of the scoring passes and Brian Alvarez accounted for the third on a 46-yard reception.
Gordon's accurate passing has kept defenses honest, thus igniting running backs such as freshman Marcus Hernandez (27 carries, 152 yards, three TDs last week).
"We're fast-paced. It's like playing for an all-star team," Gordon said. "I need to cut down on the turnovers and get off to a better start."
Defensively, the Pirates have improved this season at corner with Jordell Howard and sophomore LaRon Thompson. Howard, a Fresno product who had not played in two years, led the team last week with eight tackles.
Interceptions by linebackers T.J. Sataua and Kurtis Sewell, the latter spiced by a 50-yard return, each led to touchdowns.
"This team is doing a great job of staying on task during the game," Young said. "We're making the adjustments and off we go."
NOTES Kickoff is 6 o'clock Saturday night at MJC Stadium. ... Modesto and San Mateo have not met since the Pirates' 24-6 victory in the 2001 Graffiti Bowl. The Bulldogs lead the series 21-19-3. ... Running back Aaron Fields will not play against San Mateo. The sophomore aggravated a groin injury and carried only six times for nine yards against Laney. ...
Gary Kollenborn, commissioner of the Northern California Football Association, designated San Mateo and Butte as MJC's next two opponents. It's part of the region's new non-league scheduling system in place the next two years.
The Pirates' games against Merced, Hartnell and Laney were classified as regional foes, but Modesto gets Butte and San Mateo due to last year's records. Butte and San Mateo, the respective runner-up and third-place finishers last year in the NorCal Conference, are paired against Modesto, the runner-up in the Valley.
"We moved up to a North Division league (two years ago) and finished second twice. That's not supposed to happen," Young said. "We were supposed to take our beating and go back down, but we didn't."