Co-champs Dayton, USD meet in PFL opener
(STATS) - Dayton and San Diego are the most successful programs in PFL history, so it's only fitting they begin league play against each other Saturday at Torero Stadium.
The Flyers have won 12 titles and the Toreros have been champions seven times since the PFL began play in 1993. One of these teams has either won the PFL title outright or been co-champion in nine of the last 11 years, including in 2015 when they shared the crown with 7-1 league records.
Since the PFL received an automatic bid to compete in the FCS playoffs starting in 2013, San Diego represented the league in 2014 and Dayton made its first appearance last season thanks to a 13-12 home win over the Toreros on Oct. 10 that gave the Flyers the tiebreaker.
San Diego was a one-point favorite over Dayton to win the title this year in preseason voting by the league's head coaches, though the Flyers received six first-place votes while the Toreros got the other five. San Diego has been selected as the preseason favorite in each of the last six years.
Dayton has won 16 of 23 all-time meetings with San Diego but has dropped the last two on the road by a combined score of 81-38. The Toreros have won 30 of their last 32 at home.
"It's a business trip," Flyers redshirt senior defensive tackle Michael Scott said. "We're not here for fun, we're not here for the nice weather, we're not here for the sun. We're here to win a football game and that's in the forefront of our mind every time we go out there."
The Flyers (2-1) are coming off a 34-20 loss at defending Northeast Conference champion Duquesne last Saturday, while San Diego (1-1) hasn't played since a 38-16 road defeat to Cal Poly on Sept. 10 that ended a seven-game win streak that began after October's setback at Dayton.
The Flyers' defense was expected to be the team's strong point this season, and Dayton ranks second in the league with 301.7 yards allowed per game. Sophomore safety David Leisring has a PFL-high three interceptions and redshirt senior defensive end Mike Gray is tied for the league lead with 3 1/2 sacks.
Dayton will be looking to stop quarterback Anthony Lawrence, who was voted the PFL's 2015 offensive freshman of the year after he led the league in passer rating (153.5) while finishing second with 23 touchdowns to just six interceptions.
The Flyers picked off Lawrence in last year's win and held him to his lowest passer rating (92.9) of 2015 as he finished 15 of 32 for 160 yards and a TD while getting sacked twice.
"We're stoked about it, using this bye week but not really treating it as a bye week," Lawrence said last Thursday. "We're already getting ready for Dayton. They're a phenomenal team with a lot of athletes, a lot of older veterans. ... They're a great team and we really have been preparing tough this whole week."
Lawrence has completed 32 of 50 passes for 338 yards with three touchdowns and no INTs this season. His counterpart, fellow redshirt sophomore Alex Jeske, has struggled in the last two games for Dayton, going 25 of 53 for 331 yards with no TDs and two picks. Jeske completed 13 of 30 passes last season against San Diego, throwing for 188 yards with a touchdown, an interception and getting sacked three times.