BELTON — It’s rivalry week for No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor, although the Crusaders’ annual American Southwest Conference showdown with Hardin-Simmons has lost some of its luster in recent years.

The Cowboys haven’t tallied a mark in the series win column since Oct. 23, 2004, and have lost 11 straight to the Crusaders.

However, that doesn’t mean UMHB (6-0, 2-0 ASC) will take HSU (3-3, 2-1) lightly heading into their meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday at Shelton Stadium in Abilene.

“It’s Hardin-Simmons,” Crusaders coach Pete Fredenburg said. “It’s always a big week for us, no matter where we play.”

The Cowboys are coming off a 55-17 thrashing of East Texas Baptist and can forge a tie for the conference lead with an upset of the Crusaders, who are coming off an up-and-down 45-34 victory over Louisiana College.

“We continue to grow as a football team, and guys are stepping up,” Fredenburg said. “We’re moving along and getting guys in place to do the things that they can really do.”

UMHB leads the all-time rivalry series 13-5 and has won 13 of the last 14 meetings, with 10 of those victories coming by 12 or more points.

Injury update

After senior running back Elijah Hudson returned from injury last week, that leaves senior defensive tackle Silvio Diaz and senior quarterback Jake Sims as the most key players on the day-to-day list.

Diaz, the ASC preseason defensive player of the year, and Sims — the starter for the season’s first two games — are listed as backups on this week’s depth chart and could see action if needed.

Around the ASC

UMHB and Mississippi College (3-3, 3-0) are the only ASC teams with unblemished conference records, although the Choctaws are ineligible for league title and its accompanying automatic NCAA Division III playoff berth as they transition into Division II.

On the flip side, three teams have yet to post a conference win — Howard Payne, East Texas Baptist and Sul Ross State, the last of which is still winless on the season.

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