Saturday's meeting marks the seventh contest between two of the winningest Division II football programs in the nation.
Grand Valley holds a .738 win percentage in the playoffs -- the highest mark in D-II. Northwest is in the playoffs for the tenth consecutive season, which is the longest active streak in the nation.
According to the Northwest Missouri State game notes, the Bearcats and Lakers have met six times on the gridiron, with the first matchup coming back in 1920.
The four previous meetings between the schools have all been do-or-die games.
The Lakers beat the Bearcats in the 2005 and 2006 national championship games. Northwest got revenge with wins in the 2007 national semifinal and 2009 national championship.
Only a handful of players from each team were with their respective programs as true freshmen the last time they met, but neither side is getting wrapped up in the rivalry aspect. They're just looking forward to another elimination game.
"We had a lot of fun in the first two playoff games, and we're going to have a lot of fun in the third one," Northwest junior linebacker Eric Reimer said. "We're trying to get to Alabama -- we're not thinking about that too much, but that's our ultimate goal and we have a chance to do that."
"When you get this far in the playoffs, you're not going in there looking for moral victories," Grand Valley junior quarterback Heath Parling said. "You want to win and they want to win, and we both are very good teams. It should be a good game."
Kickoff from Bearcat Stadium in Maryville on Saturday is set for 2:30pm.