The names are a little more familiar, the stakes higher, the opponents experienced.
Mercer has played three Pioneer Football League games, but the Bears slipped out of conference last week and rolled past Division III Carnegie Mellon 54-21 with a complete effort.
No more first-year or lower-level opponents await Mercer, nor do more home games than away games.
Its hard to believe weve got five games (left), and we have three of them on the road, Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb said wryly. I dont know who does the schedule. Thats a bunch of crap.
Lamb was in good humor with the joking around because his team is cruising along, healthy and winning, thanks in part to six of its first seven games being at home.
Mercer steps up its attempt to win the PFL championship in its first year of football in 72 years -- and its only year in the conference prior to its move to scholarship football and the Southern Conference -- when it visits Campbell on Saturday.
The Bears are 6-1 overall and 2-1 in PFL play, while the Camels are 1-6 and 0-4.
Theres a logjam ahead of Mercer in the PFL standings.
Butler is the lone unbeaten team at 4-0, and the Bulldogs are followed by four 3-1 teams: Dayton, Marist, Morehead State and San Diego.
Drake and Jacksonville are a half-game behind Mercer.
Right now, this league is topsy-turvy when you look at the records and whos placed where, Lamb said. Its just one of those years where youve got to play all your games, and at the end you add em up and see where you stack up.
Hopefully were at the top.
Mercer certainly has a chance. Only one of the final five opponents is ahead of Mercer in the standings, Marist. The other four are a combined 5-22 overall and 3-16 in conference play.
The kids have got to understand we stepped out of conference for a game, Lamb said. We won that game very handily. Its time to step back in to conference.
Mercer did to Carnegie Mellon what teams expected to win at home are supposed to do but dont always manage. The Bears took away the Tartans hopes early and never let them resurface.
I think the biggest thing that stood out is, when youre a favorite like that, you want to dominate the game, and we certainly dominated the game in the first half, Lamb said. Overall, it was just a complete game for us, and one that you always want to try to win like that.
They dont always happen like that, but that one did that day.