Top 10 Preview
CSU-Pueblo plays Angelo State in Lone Star Football Festival
No. 1 Valdosta State
Minnesota-Crookston at No. 2 Minnesota State-Mankato, 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Fresh off its 34-21 victory at Mary, Minnesota State-Mankato opens its home schedule against Minnesota-Crookston. The Mavericks have won the previous two meetings with a 42-3 win in 2010 and a 42-0 victory in ’11.
Minnesota State-Mankato started their season with touchdown drives on their first two possessions with Kyle Riggot catching a 23-yard TD from John Wolf and Connor Thomas rushing 12 yards for a score. The Mavericks also got a 72-yard interception return for a touchdown from Nathan Hancock.
Minnesota-Crookston opened its season with a 47-0 loss to Upper Iowa. Talo Pascal led the Golden Eagles with 21 rushing yards, while Marcus Cheatham tallied 61 receiving yards. Kyle Larson completed nine of 20 passes for 61 yards and an interception.
Central Missouri at No. 3 Northwest Missouri State, 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Northwest Missouri State opened its season with a 45-24 win against Saginaw Valley State and will look to go 2-0 at home when it plays host to Central Missouri in a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association contest. In 2012, the Bearcats averaged 43.0 points per contest at home.
Central Missouri is facing the toughest first two games of any team in the nation after opening the season with a 26-23 loss to No. 6 Missouri Western State.
With just 4:32 left to play in the game, Central Missouri quarterback Hayden Hawk connected with Cullen Rosine to give the Mules a 23-20, but Missouri Western rallied and with just 14 seconds left scored the game-winning touchdown.
Northwest Missouri State holds a 55-35-2 advantage in the series, although Central Missouri snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Bearcats with a 31-21 victory last year.
No. 5 Colorado State-Pueblo vs. Angelo State, 8 p.m. ET Saturday
For the first time, Colorado State-Pueblo has been invited to take part in the Lone Star Football Festival, played annually at AT&T Stadium (formerly Cowboys Stadium) in Arlington, Texas. The Lone Star Football Festival was conceived in 2011 and has featured Lone Star Conference teams as well as numerous teams ranked in the top 10 nationally.
CSU-Pueblo was won a remarkable 27 consecutive regular-season games, easily the top streak in Division II. In fact, the only NCAA schools, regardless of division, that could lay claim to such a streak is defending Division III champion Mount Union (73 games).
CSU-Pueblo and Angelo State have never met, however, the ThunderWolves have plenty of recent experience against Lone Star Conference teams, going 3-1 against the league teams since renewing the football program in 2008.
CSU-Pueblo worked out the jitters in a big way by going into FCS Northern Colorado's house and defeating the Bears 41-36 to open the 2013 season.
The Rams will play in the Lone Star Football Festival for the second consecutive season, having lost last year to Valdosta State. Angelo State opened its season with a 38-26 win against Black Hills State.
Missouri S&T at No. 6 Missouri Western State, 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Missouri Western State looks to continue its dominance at home against Missouri S&T. The Griffons have won the past eight games against the Miners and are 10-3 all time against them at home.
The game marks the first meeting between Missouri Western and its former offensive coordinator, Tyler Fenwick, who took over the head coaching job at Missouri S&T this season. Fenwick had been part of a Missouri Western program that played in the postseason in each of the six seasons that he was on the staff, including an appearance in the quarterfinals in 2012.
Missouri Western is coming off a come-from-behind, season-opening victory against Central Missouri. Senior tight end Reggie Jordon caught the game-winning touchdown with 14 seconds remaining. He has caught 12 TDs in this past 15 games.
Missouri S&T lost its season opener 40-34 in double overtime to then-No. 20 Chadron State, as the Eagles won the game on an interception return. The Miner defense, one of the top units in the nation a year ago, allowed 500 yards to Chadron State.
No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth at Upper Iowa, 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Minnesota-Duluth will play at Upper Iowa in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference confrontation. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 4-0, most recently a 49-22 victory in 2011.
Both teams are 1-0 on the young season. Minnesota-Duluth defeated Sioux Falls 32-7 behind Austin Sikorski’s 97-yards running and two touchdowns. Sikorski scored his first two collegiate touchdowns at the expense of Upper Iowa in 2011. The 144 yards of total offense the Bulldogs gave up to Sioux Falls was a four-year low.
Upper Iowa opened with a 47-0 win against Minnesota-Crookston as Cole Jaeschke threw for 292 yards and five touchdowns. Minnesota-Crookston was able to muster a mere 61 yards of total offense.
Since the opening of the 2008 season, no NCAA II outfit in the country has amassed more victories (63) or compiled a better winning percentage (.900, 63-7 record) than Minnesota-Duluth.
Cheyney at No. 8 Indiana (Pa.), 4 p.m. ET Saturday
Indiana (Pa.) will play its home opener against Cheyney. The Crimson Hawks own a 5-0 lead in the all-time series, including a 56-0 win last year. Indiana (Pa.) has won six consecutive home openers, having outscored their opponents 266-80.
Indiana (Pa.) opened the season with a 30-20 victory against Southern Connecticut State while Cheyney lost to Lincoln 33-28.
Defense came up big for Indiana (Pa.) in its win as Carl Fleming set a career best for tackles with 15, including six solo. The Crimson Hawks also came up with three interceptions, including one in the end zone with a little more than a minute remaining in the game.
Cheyney’s defense also had its moments, forcing four fumbles and recovering three. The Wolves also had three sacks and 13 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Isaiah Fleming had 15 tackles, including three for loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
McKendree at No. 9 Henderson State, 7 p.m. ET Saturday
After rallying for a 32-28 victory in last week's season opener at home against Tiffin, McKendree will face a tougher task in taking on Henderson State. The Reddies are ranked No. 9 in the latest American Football Coaches Association Division II poll. HSU won its season opener in impressive fashion, taking down visiting Southern Nazarene 82-10. The Reddies piled up a whopping 855 yards of total offense, including 557 yards through the air.
Junior quarterback Kevin Rodgers, who is a front-runner for the Harlon Hill Trophy, picked up where he left off following a record-setting 2012 season. Rodgers threw for 468 yards and six touchdowns against Southern Nazarene. Last season, McKendree got to experience Rodgers' talents close up as he threw for 442 yards and seven scores in the Reddies' 47-24 victory.
McKendree put up some record-setting numbers of its own in the victory against Tiffin. Sophomore quarterback Isaac Fisher shattered a pair of older brother Austin's passing records with the Bearcats by completing 28 passes for 375 yards on the day. Junior wide receiver Dewayne Gatti hauled in 10 passes for 201 yards to establish new marks for McKendree. Fisher and Gatti connected for the game-winning score on a 59-yard TD strike with just 4:05 to play.
Truman State at No. 10 Grand Valley State, 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Grand Valley State and Truman State will be playing one another for the third time. The first two, when Truman State was known as Northeast Missouri State in 1987 and ‘88, were won by the Bulldogs.
The Lakers were impressive in their debut winning 38-17 against Azusa Pacific. Michael Ratay accounted for 110 yards rushing and 61 yards. Heath Parling threw for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Grand Valley scored on four of its first five possessions of the contest.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 40-37 victory against Southwest Baptist. Special teams were the difference as Truman recovered a muffed punt in the first quarter that set up the first touchdown, got a 100-yard kick return from Tremaine Millender, forced a safety on a punt and had another 59-yard kick return to set up the game winning field goal with six minutes left to play.