Ye Olde D-II Spreadsheet: (Excel2003, 283kb)
D-II Game of the Week:
Last Saturday’s meeting between #10 California (PA) and visiting #11 Kutztown was the highest-profile game on the D-II schedule for the week, and it was everything you’d have expected. It didn’t start that way, however. With just three minutes gone in the second quarter, the Vulcans had piled up a 27-0 lead, and Kutztown looked to be nothing more than a grease smear left behind California’s path.
Over the next 24 minutes, the Golden Bears reeled off 38 unanswered points aided by four Kevin Morton touchdown passes, and the entire situation appeared to be completely reversed. But then the Vulcans geared up to return fire. After taking over possession on the Kutztown 21 after a botched punt with two minutes gone in the final quarter, California only needed 31 seconds to get into the end zone and trim the lead to five; a two-point conversion attempt failed. Morton was intercepted on the first play after the kickoff, giving the Vulcans the ball on the Golden Bear 22; Kutztown escaped that disaster when California’s Peter Lalich was himself picked off just four plays later. The Golden Bears almost gave up a safety on the very next play, as Morton was sacked at his own two yard line; they were able to get out of the hole, however, before being forced to punt. Taking over from their own 39 right at the midway mark of the fourth quarter, California drove downfield, eating nearly half the remaining clock before Jeff Knox scored on a four-yard run. The two-point conversion was successful this time, and California had implausibly regained the lead they’d squandered, 41-38.
It took Kutztown seven plays and just over two minutes to erase it, thanks in large part to a 46-yard kickoff return by Shahaid Smith onto which an additional 15 yards was added due to a late hit out of bounds at the end of the run. Curtis Wortham bulled in from the two to put the Golden Bears back on top 45-41. Starting at their own 33, Lalich threw an incompletion, then hit on consecutive passes of 14, 14, and finally 39 yards; the last to Kowan Scott with 1:02 to play which put the Vulcans ahead again, 48-45. Kutztown was unable to get a first down on the ensuing possession, and California ran out the clock to escape with a wild, crazy, and hard-earned victory.
It was a big day for both quarterbacks, as Lalich threw for 398 yards and two scores, but was picked off twice. Morton had 359 and four scores, but was intercepted three times. The win, combined with the chaos in the top five, moved the Vulcans up to #6 in this week’s poll; Kutztown was perhaps harshly penalized, falling ten places to #21.
Vern, I Think You’ve Lost Your Grip on the Rudder:
The top five was wrecked last weekend. #1 Pittsburg State and #2 Minnesota-Duluth survived the carnage, but after that it was all destruction. For the first time since 2003 — and after some heartbreaking close calls — Central Missouri, at home, managed to knock off their hated rivals #3 Northwest Missouri State. The final score was 31-21, but that’s deceptive; the Mules led 31-7 going into the fourth quarter.
Two third-quarter punt team mistakes led directly to 10 points for Tarleton State, and that was the deal-breaker in the Texans’ 20-17 home win over #4 Midwestern State. An early miscue after Ashland’s first possession ended with a punt downed at the three was all the damage required to destroy #5 Wayne State (MI). Mickey Mohner was intercepted trying to get out from his own nine yard line; three plays later, a seven-yard drive ended with Ashland taking a 7-0 lead on a four-yard pass from Taylor Housewright to Jordan McCune. Both defenses basically ruled the remainder of the game, with the two teams combining for only 440 yards of total offense, 181 of which was courtesy of Ashland’s passing game.
The end result of all this? Northwest fell to #13, Midwestern to #16, and Wayne to #19; Ashland moved into the top 25 at #21, largely as a result of having had previous poll support. Central Missouri and Tarleton State did now, which is why they ended up 27th and 32nd in the point totals.
Four games highlight this week’s Rising Up feature. The first is one we discussed in yesterday’s FCS Recap, as Lenoir-Rhyne walked all over Davidson 20-2. In another Division II-over-non-scholarship FCS upset, Western New Mexico got past San Diego 21-20; not quite getting there was Chowan, who very nearly upended FCS minnow Virginia Military, falling 24-17. The most interesting of these four games, however, has to be Arkansas-Monticello’s 31-24 loss at Northwestern State. The Boll Weevils, you may remember, crushed College of Faith 84-0 last week, a win which by any pure resume voting or sensible computer ranking system would have required they be ranked in a tie for #1 in the entire country regardless of division.
You may be saying, “WHAAAA?”, but allow me to explain: neither Arkansas-Monticello nor College of Faith had played anyone else yet, and the same was true of Oklahoma State and Savannah State. In a strict system, this would mean that the only relevant data for any of the four teams would be the final scores of those games; as they were the two largest margins of victory in week one, there is no way any sane or logical mathematical formula could produce any result other than a tie for #1 between UAM and OSU. There have been arguments made in my direction that it’s still ridiculous because UAM is Division II, to which my response is “What is your point?” At the end of week one, Arkansas-Monticello was, statistically, the best team in the nation, period, because we had no actual relevant information to state otherwise. For all anyone knows, the Boll Weevils could theoretically have been capable of going out and beating Alabama 44-0 based on the actual on-field results to that point. This is, of course, no longer true in any respect. It’s simply the necessary logic of dealing with resume voting and computer rankings after only one week of play when there is absolutely no connection between games. But it’s a vitally important thing to remember and consider when dealing with early-season rankings.
Anyway, the Boll Weevils lost this week, thereby plummeting all the way from #1 to… well, I don’t know, because Massey (my go-to on this) doesn’t include UAM’s win in week one, and there’s a valid argument to ignore it. He’s got them at #316 right now, but realistically they should be somewhere around 150. Still, they almost beat a legitimate, full-scholarship FCS team on the road, and although this got them nowhere near the top 25 this week, they’re a team you probably want to keep an eye on going forward.
There Are Two Numbers Here, and Both Are Ugly:
Grand Valley State apparently has nothing to be concerned with offensively this year, as they have now scored 131 points in two games. 83 of those points came last Saturday as they beat up on Notre Dame (OH). The Lakers rolled up 599 yards of offense, and it was balanced: 307 passing, 292 on the ground. They did not turn the ball over and never punted (though one drive did end on downs, and another ended the first half). The yardage orgasm was not the result of any one player exploding for a huge day; Chris Robinson had 113 yards on 19 carries, scoring four times, to lead the running attack, while Charles Johnson caught 12 balls for 138 yards and two scores and Michael Ratay caught 4 for 105, also scoring twice.
The problem with Grand Valley… is that everything I just said is merely a slightly improved version of what I will now say about Notre Dame’s offense. The Falcons actually outgained the Lakers, rolling up 641 yards, 354 on the ground. They had more first downs. They completed more passes. They ran fifteen more plays, to be fair, but still. They also only punted twice, and ended a possession when the game ended; herein lies the entire difference in the game, as the only reason Notre Dame wasn’t able to keep up with the Lakers on the scoreboard was the two punts and four costly turnovers (two picks and two fumbles), which would have meant as many as 42 points sans two-point conversions. Yes, Grand Valley won, by the indisputably ugly-for-both-teams score of 83-46. Yes, they won by 37 points, and I suppose that’s a good thing. But when your defense allows the other team to score 46 points, you have a problem no matter who you are, and it’s especially disturbing when your opponent simply isn’t a world-beater themselves. What’s going to happen to Grand Valley when they face a team like Pittsburg State or Duluth or Pueblo or California in the playoffs?
Notable Games Requiring Brief Commentary:
New Mexico Highlands 50, at Fort Lewis 0
- Highlands is now 2-0, having outscored their opponents 92-14. They received a total of three points in this week’s poll. Expect this to change, because this team is dangerous. Do not expect it to change this week, however, as they visit FCS Southern Utah and are likely to get smoked by badass Brad Sorensen.
Harding 31, at North Alabama 10
- Do you know what’s wrong with North Alabama? Surely having Terry Bowden leave wasn’t that big a deal, especially since it was Bobby Wallace himself who returned from a successful sojourn at West Alabama to retake the reins of his once-mighty program. But the Lions barely escaped Miles last week, and now they’ve gotten shelled by what may be the third-best team in the GAC, which we were all pretty sure was still a soft league. Then again, maybe it’s not. North Alabama will probably win this coming week against NAIA Kentucky Christian, but then it’s a road trip to Delta State and I don’t think they’re going to enjoy that visit based on what’s transpired so far.
at Sioux Falls 45, Minnesota State-Moorhead 10
- Welp. Guys, I think the Cougars are for real, and while their first eligible season in Division II may not result in a playoff spot, it’s certainly going to result in a legitimate chase for one. They’ve got a poor Minot State team this week, a visit from an underwhelming Bemidji State squad the next, and a home game against Southwest Minnesota State to end the month. It’s not until October 6 that they face an actual threat, and that’s at a Winona State team that got paddled by Duluth on Saturday. Watch out.
Lone Star Football Festival:
There’s a big event to be aware of this weekend. At Cowboys Stadium in Arlington TX, five games will be played over three days. Thursday night at 8pm ET, #16 Midwestern State will take on Texas A&M-Commerce. Friday at 4:30 ET, Incarnate Word will meet Eastern New Mexico. Saturday will feature three games: #18 Valdosta State, the guest team made necessary by the LSC only having nine teams, will take on Angelo State at 1pm ET. That will be followed by #20 Abilene Christian facing Tarleton State at 5pm ET, and then the action will close with the 9pm ET kickoff between #14 Texas A&M-Kingsville and West Texas A&M.
The New Top 25:
at #1 Pittsburg State 34, Central Oklahoma 19
- Still unsure what to make of this result, other than to surmise perhaps Central Oklahoma is starting to rebound from some down years. The Gorillas avoid the upset curse, and will travel to Southwest Baptist on Saturday for what should be a cakewalk.
at #2 Minnesota-Duluth 38, Winona State 16
- Solid win over what should be a solid team. Duluth visits Concordia-Saint Paul this week and will certainly move to 3-0.
#3 Colorado State-Pueblo 41, at Northwestern Oklahoma State 24
- Perhaps concerning given the beating NW Oklahoma took at the hands of Ouachita Baptist the previous week. Still, a win’s a win, and when three teams in the top five go down while you’re number six, voila. Pueblo travels to Western New Mexico on Saturday, and should be okay.
at #4 Grand Valley State 83, Notre Dame (OH) 46
- The Lakers will head south to play Tiffin this week, and I think the game should be over by the end of the first quarter.
#5 Winston-Salem State 30, at Concord 22
- Decent, if not stellar, road win for the Rams, who take advantage of the carnage above and move up three spots. They’ll “host” Morehouse in Cleveland, OH on Saturday.
#6 California (PA) 48, #21 Kutztown 45
- California visits Edinboro this week; Kutztown has to face a ranked opponent again, this time visiting #12 Bloomsburg.
#7 New Haven 24, at Saint Augustine’s 21
- Way closer than it needed to be for a team angling for the top ten, but salvation came thanks to all the upsets and New Haven earned a five-spot bump. They’ll visit Pace on Saturday, and it will be a rout.
at #8 Missouri Western State 56, William Jewell 0
- The Griffins didn’t actually demonstrate anything with this win, but they’ll move up six spots in the poll anyway thanks to the massacre above them. This week, they’ll be hosting Nebraska-Kearney, an 0-2 team used to being a playoff contender. That, in and of itself, is cause for concern here.
#9 Washburn 45, at Fort Hays State 20
- The expected result, basically. Washburn moved up six spots, and will host 0-2 Northeastern State on Saturday; they’ll win.
#10 Saginaw Valley State 37, at Malone 14
- Not surprising, and an eight-spot jump in the poll is the reward. The Cardinals host Findlay this weekend, and it could be a tough test considering what Findlay did to Northern Michigan in week one.
at #11 Humboldt State 42, Azusa Pacific 17
- Azusa’s finding their move to D-II to be a challenge, it seems. Humboldt will host another newcomer on Saturday, Canadians Simon Fraser.
at #12 Bloomsburg 30, Edinboro 14
- Looks about right. Bloomsburg moves up seven spots, and hosts #21 Kutztown this weekend.
at Central Missouri 31, #13 Northwest Missouri State 21
- A surprising early-season stumble for the Bearcats, who will now host Fort Hays State on Saturday. They’ll bounce back.
#14 Texas A&M-Kingsville 16, at #20 Abilene Christian 13
- It’s red because Kingsville jumped Abilene in the polls as a result of what was an upset based on last week’s rankings. It resulted in a 10-spot jump for the Javelinas and an 11-place drop for ACU. Abilene Christian faces Tarleton State in Saturday’s second game of the Lone Star Football Festival; they’ll be followed immediately by Kingsville and West Texas A&M.
#15 Ouachita Baptist 31, at Stillman 0
- It’s hard to say whether this means anything or not yet, but it supports any conclusions one may have made about last week’s shellacking of NW Oklahoma State especially after the Rangers’ performance against CSU-Pueblo. The Tigers, who jumped five spots, are idle Saturday before hosting Arkansas Tech on the 22nd.
at Tarleton State 20, #16 Midwestern State 17
- The second victim of last weekend’s carnage, Midwestern will only have until Thursday to get it together, as they play Texas A&M-Commerce in the opening game of the Lone Star Football Festival.
#17 Indiana (PA) 56, Cheyney 0
- A rout which startled not a soul. Indiana moves up six spots, and will host hapless (and, thus far, scoreless) Lock Haven on Saturday; you can guess the outcome.
at #18 Valdosta State 62, Fort Valley State 14
- The Blazers romped, and will travel to Dallas this weekend to face Angelo State as the guest team in the Lone Star Football Festival.
at #22 Ashland 7, #19 Wayne State (MI) 0
- Welp. I know one person who’d probably watch this game over and over on a loop. Sicko. Ashland will visit Ferris State on Saturday while Wayne State host Lake Erie. The latter’s a sure win for the ranked team; Ashland may have some trouble.
#23 Colorado Mines 71, South Dakota Mines 7
- Colorado Mines has now outscored their opponents 128-23, although both wins are over brand new Division II schools, just in from the NAIA. Still, it’s impressive, and got them into the top 25 at the expense of Hillsdale (see below). They’ll host Black Hills State on Saturday, and I expect an easy win.
at Samford [FCS] 34, #24 West Alabama 6
- Division II is much less forgiving of losses to FCS teams than FCS is of losses to FBS squads. Thus, West Alabama plunges nine spots in the poll after this loss. They host D-III Mississippi College on Saturday.
#25 Delta State 26, at Elizabeth City State 7
- The Fighting Okra go on the road, against a playoff team from last year, win easily, and fall three spots in the poll. OKAY, SURE. They’re off this week, and will face floundering North Alabama on the 22nd.
at XX Hillsdale 38, Ohio Dominican 20
- The previously 25th-ranked Chargers recorded a solid win… and not only dropped out of the top 25, but there are two teams between them and the bottom slot in the poll. They’ll host Malone this week and should get back on the radar with a win.
at Wingate 37, at XX Albany State 9
- The second team to exit the poll this week did so under their own power, getting pummeled on the road. They’ll visit 0-2 Elizabeth City State on Saturday, and the loser will go from being a playoff team last year to dead in the water in 2012.
More interesting finals:
Oklahoma Panhandle State 30, at Lindenwood-Belleville [NAIA] 23 (OT)
West Liberty 14, at Virginia State 13
Southwest Minnesota State 32, at Northern State 30
at Urbana 34, Seton Hill 31
at Newberry 17, Shorter 14
Clark Atlanta 20, at Lane 17
at West Chester 21, Gannon 17
at Missouri Southern State 27, Northeastern State 21
at Mary 31, Augustana (SD) 25
at Michigan Tech 51, Tiffin 15
Mercyhurst 45, at Millersville 7
Defense is an Optional Package:
Central Washington 56, at Simon Fraser 28
at West Texas A&M 57, Western State 20
at Eastern New Mexico 38, Sul Ross State [D-III] 35
Emporia State 58, at Nebraska-Kearney 35
at Shippensburg 55, Slippery Rock 35
No Offense, But… No Offense:
Kentucky Wesleyan 13, at Kentucky State 6
at Stonehill 13, Southern Connecticut State 0