Breaking Down The First Round
Nov. 11, 2009
By Amy Farnum
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Saginaw St. vs. Neb.-Kearney | Hillsdale vs. MSU-Mankato | UNC-Pembroke vs. Ark. Tech | Fayetteville St. vs. Cal (Pa.)
Tarleton St. vs. Texas A&M-Kingsville | West Alabama vs. Albany St. | Edinboro vs. ESU | ACU vs. Midwestern St.
Both squads are making their first appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs since 2005 and will be meeting each other on the gridiron for the first time in series history.
The Cardinals tied for second place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as they advanced to the postseason for sixth time since 2000. SVSU is 4-5 in NCAA playoff games. The Cardinals enters the contest on a five-game winning streak.
The Lopers are 2-6 all-time in postseason games, including an 0-4 record at home. Their last postseason victory was in 1980 when they topped Mars Hill, 9-6, in overtime in an NAIA first round game.
UNK is riding a 10-game winning streak since opening the season with a 21-16 setback to Wayne State (Neb.). The Lopers cruised through their Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference schedule with a 9-0 mark with help from sophomore running back Rustin Dring, who has recorded five consecutive 100-yard rushing games.
The winner advances to play top-seeded and defending NCAA champion Minnesota-Duluth on Nov. 21.
Hillsdale College (9-2) at Minnesota State-Mankato (10-1), 12 p.m. CT
Hillsdale College received its’ first-ever berth in the Division II playoffs since becoming an NCAA member in football in 1992 after putting together a 9-2 mark. It is the program’s first football playoff appearance since 1988 when the Chargers competed as an NAIA school.
The Chargers are rolling into the contest on a five-game winning streak, the longest in program history, which began with an upset of second-seeded Grand Valley State.
Junior quarterback Troy Weatherhead leads the GLIAC in passing yards and completions, and has not thrown an interception in the past four-plus games.
Minnesota State-Mankato is making its fifth appearance in the NCAA playoffs, and will be hosting for the first time in school history. The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division champions are 2-4 in playoff games, including a 27-16 loss to Ashland in the first round last year.
The Mavericks have nabbed 28 interceptions this season, and rank second in the nation with a 1.64 turnover margin.
The winner will travel to Grand Valley State for a second-round game on Nov. 21.
UNC-Pembroke (9-1) at Arkansas Tech (8-2), 12 p.m. CT
In just its third season of existence, UNC-Pembroke has advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first time in history. The Braves, a Division II Independent, have won six straight games following their only loss of the season at Carson-Newman on Sept. 19.
Arkansas Tech will be making its first NCAA playoff appearance since 2004, and third in the last decade. The Wonder Boys are 1-2 overall in postseason play.
The Wonder Boys boast one of the most potent offenses in the nation, and rank second in total yards per game (525.60) and fourth in scoring (42.00 ppg). On the flip side, UNCP fields a stout defense, which ranks fourth nationally in total defense (244.7 ypg) and third in scoring defense (12.5 ppg). The Braves have held their last six opponents to a total of 43 points.
The winner moves on to face top-seeded North Alabama on Nov. 21.
West Alabama (7-4) at Albany State (Ga.) (8-2), 12 p.m. CT
West Alabama not only shocked the nation last week by knocking off then-No. 1 North Alabama in four overtimes, but the Tigers may have also surprised themselves with a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first time since 1975.
“The last 24 hours have been overwhelming, to beat North Alabama like we did on Saturday night and then see our name on the screen for the play offs is just incredible,” said West Alabama head coach Bobby Wallace following the selection announced on Sunday. “The way our kids fought last night and won – I would have been fine with ending the season on that note.”
Albany State is making its sixth straight appearance in the NCAA playoffs after finishing second in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference race. It will be the fifth meeting in series history between the two schools, but the first postseason contest. ASU won the last two meetings in 1993 and 1994.
The winner will travel to second-seeded Carson-Newman on Nov. 21.
Edinboro (Pa.) (8-3) at East Stroudsburg (8-3), 12 p.m. ET
Edinboro University earned an NCAA playoff bid for the first time since 2004, and coincidentally will meet its last playoff opponent East Stroudsburg in first round action on Saturday.
The Fighting Scots fell 36-32 to the Warriors in the final minute of play in the 2004 second-round contest. ESU owns a 10-4 advantage in the series and has won the last four meetings.
The Warriors will be making their fourth NCAA playoff appearance and third in the last six seasons. ESU last advanced to the postseason in 2005, when it won the Northeast Region and moved on to the NCAA semifinals.
The contest has the makings of shootout with two of the PSAC’s top scoring teams and two of the top quarterbacks in the league. Edinboro quarterback Trevor Harris leads the PSAC in total offense (269.6 ypg) and pass efficiency (149.6) and ranks third in passing yards per game (237.6 ypg), while ESU quarterback Matt Marshall is second in all three categories with 262.8 ypg in total offense, 148.5 pass efficiency rating, and 239.7 passing yards per game.
The winner advances to meet top-seeded West Liberty State on Nov. 21. Edinboro handed West Liberty is lone loss of the year in the season-opener.
Fayetteville State (8-3) at California University (Pa.) (8-3), 12 p.m. ET
After losing their first two games of the season, both Fayetteville State and California (Pa.) worked their way back onto the national scene with successful conference play to secure NCAA playoff bids.
Fayetteville State is making its third overall NCAA appearance and first since 2004 after winning the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association with a 21-10 victory over Bowie State in the championship game last weekend.
The Vulcans claimed their fifth straight Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division title to earn their second straight and third overall appearance in the playoffs.
The winner will travel to meet Shippensburg for the second round on Nov. 21.
Tarleton State (9-2) at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (9-2), 12 p.m. CT
Tarleton State and TAMU-Kingsville finished the regular season in a three-way tie with Midwestern State for the Lone Star Conference title, and will have another chance to battle it out in the first round of the NCAA playoffs.
The Javelinas downed Tarleton State, 34-20, on Oct. 3, and the rematch will mark the program’s 14th NCAA Division II playoff appearance. The Javelinas and Texans have met once before in the playoffs, with TAMUK prevailing 34-10 in 2003. The Texans are making their third NCAA playoff appearance. The Javelinas hold an 18-4 advantage in the all-time series against the Texans.
The winner will make the trek to Ellensburg, Wash., to face undefeated and top-seeded Central Washington on Nov. 21.
Abilene Christian (8-3) at Midwestern State (9-2), 12 p.m. CT
Lone Star Conference foes ACU and Midwestern State will meet for the second straight week after MSU downed the Wildcats, 15-13, to clinch a share of the LSC title for the first time in program history.
Midwestern State scored 15 points in the first quarter of last week’s contest, and then held off the Wildcats to secure the victory.
ACU is making its fourth straight NCAA playoff appearance, while the Mustangs have received a berth for the first time since 2006. After starting the season 7-0, the Wildcats have lost three of their last four contests. MSU rolls into the contest on a four-game winning streak.
The winner advances to play at Northwest Missouri State on Nov. 21.