"That's something to look forward to when you're looking at the season at the beginning of the year," Northwest senior wide receiver Bryce Young said. "When you see you've got those guys last, it could be a huge game."
Saturday may mark the 35th all-time meeting between Missouri Western and Northwest, but it's the second -- and last -- time for the forseeable future that the two rivals will meet in the regular season finale.
"I like it in week 11 because our fans care so much, whether we win or lose it keeps them interested longer," Missouri Western head coach Jerry Partridge said. "But it's not going to be that way. The presidents want it different so that's the way it's going to be."
Through the MIAA's two-year scheduling cycle, the Griffons and Bearcats have played as early as the season opener, and as late as the final week of the regular season.
The new cycle has them slated to meet week nine in 2014. While this new ritual of a season-ending showdown will be short-lived, having the rivalry game at the finish line has caught on with the players.
"Two of the top dogs at the end of the season, and it's a lot of fun playing for all the marbles," Northwest senior quarterback Trevor Adams said.
"Obviously last year had the MIAA Championship riding on it, this year it does not, but it's still just as monumental to us and monumental to them as well," Missouri Western senior quarterback Travis Partridge said.
Going through two straight campaigns building up to week 11, the two have played a mirror image of a conference schedule giving both teams the best scouting report against common opponents that they could ask for.
"That's really helpful in our film study and things that different teams have done to them already," Young said.
"We've kind of kept up with each others seasons," Adams said. "I feel like we've been able to see what MO West is doing all season."
An outright MIAA crown may not be on the line for the Griffons, but a win over No. 2 Northwest could be their only ticket to a fourth straight playoff berth.
It's those kind of high stakes that have become commonplace with this match up. Playing for them in the season's final week just makes it all the sweeter.
"This rivalry to me has been built up forever," Jerry Partridge said. "I played in the first one as a freshman and it was a big deal then, so it's always been pretty good."
"You can put everything else aside," Travis Partridge said. "And it boils down to two great football teams competing against each other and most of the time it's going to come down to the wire."