Big turnarounds highlight 5 takeaways from Week 5's DII football poll
It's been quite the roller coaster ride the past two weeks in Division II football's Top 25. While Week 3 saw little movement in the American Football Coaches Association poll, Weeks 4 and 5 have seen a lot of shaking.
RELATED: Week 5 AFCA poll
While the Top 4 remained unfazed, nearly every other team in the poll moved at least a little. Let's break down this week's poll:
Win-streak meter: 35
Another week, same old story. Northwest Missouri State rolled off another win Saturday, putting the Bearcats just six games away from setting the DII record. The Bearcats earned all 34 first place votes this week.
This win wasn't so easy, however. Central Missouri quarterback Brook Bolles hit Kyrion Parker for a go-ahead touchdown with 34 seconds remaining. But just when it looked as if the streak was coming to an end, Bearcats' quarterback Zach Martin marched his team 68 yards down the field in 23 seconds for the game-winning score with just seven ticks left on the clock. Still, the Mules cracked the Bearcats' defensive armor — one that was allowing just 3.5 points and 147.5 yards per game before the weekend. Central Missouri scored 20 points and put up 381 yards on NWMSU, but the Bearcats showed the stuff that has propelled them to three of the last four national championships.
Surprises keep on rising
If you thought that Indianapolis was going to be a Top 10 team at the onset of 2017, congratulations. You may just be the greatest visionary in the college football ranks.
UIndy was projected to finish fourth in its own conference. Instead, one year after going 6-5, the Greyhounds are out to a 5-0 start. Beginning with the opening night upset of then-No. 2 Grand Valley State, UIndy has handled every challenge. The Greyhounds have defeated two of the three teams projected to finish higher than them by a score of 79-36 and face the third this weekend.
Quarterback Jake Purichia has been a model of consistency, throwing for 1,175 yards, 12 touchdowns and one interception, leading the top scoring offense in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The defensive unit has countered Purichia's lone interception with eight of its own, two of which have gone to the house.
If UIndy is a surprise Top 10 team, then so is Delta State. The Statesmen were projected to finish sixth in the Gulf South Conference. After jumping four spots this week, Delta State is now the No. 9 team in DII football.
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A much-improved defense seems to be the key for the turnaround on Delta State's Cleveland, Mississippi campus. A year ago the Statesmen finished 4-6, allowng 39.3 points and 420.3 yards a game. This season, Delta State has the No. 13 scoring defense, allowing just 14.6 points a game, while allowing 112 fewer yards per game than in 2016. Add in a solid running game with feature back Chris Robinson and quarterback Breck Ruddick, and the Statesmen have the perfect recipe to win, like they did in an upset of West Georgia, 17-7, in Week 3. The Statesmen face another big test this weekend against a West Alabama tied atop the GSC.
Humboldt State finshed 6-5 last season in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Now the Jacks are a perfect 4-0. They are a point-scoring machine, having put up 72, 49 and 56 in their last three wins. Quarterback Robert Webber has been on fire, throwing 14 touchdowns since being held to one on opening day. Running back Ja'Quan Gardner has also been a menace to opposing defenses, breaking 100 yards and scoring at least one touchdown in all four games.
The Jacks face a big test this weekend as they head to No. 13 Central Washington.
What about Fort Hays State? Playing in arguably the toughest conference in DII football, the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, it was powers like NWMSU, UCM and Emporia State who were expected to contend for the title. Instead, it's the Tigers tied atop the MIAA at a perfect 5-0. FHSU has a tough stretch coming up, facing Pittsburg State, Washburn, Missouri Western, Emporia State and Northwest Missouri State over the next five games.
But mark your calendars. The November 4 showdown with the NWMSU Bearcats may not only be for the MIAA title. The Bearcats will need to win to tie the DII football record of 40 straight wins.
Welcome to The Rock
Heading into the season, Slippery Rock had some sleeper appeal. Halfway into the season, The Rock is wide awake and the No. 12 team in DII football.
That makes Slippery Rock this week's biggest risers, jumping six spots from No. 18. The Rock plays in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (Wild) West division, where teams are putting up big points and playing some nail biters as well. Last weekend, Slippery Rock eked out a thrilling overtime victory over then-No. 5 California (Pennsylvania), a week after going to the final minutes with Gannon. Slippery Rock has the seventh best scoring offense in the nation, but to go deep in the playoffs, the defense will have to improve on its 32 points allowed per game.
The Rock aready has two upsets this season. There's no doubt that all eyes will be on their date with Indiana (Pennsylvania) in two weeks.
Unranked no more
This week's Top 25 welcomed two new teams to the mix. No. 23 Southeastern Oklahoma State brought its record to 5-0, squeaking by Northwest Oklahoma State 30-27. The Savage Storm is now all alone atop the Great American Conference.
West Georgia returns to the rankings after a brief hiatus. A 37-23 victory over last season's national runner-up North Alabama gets the Wolves back in at No. 25.
More fun with numbers
111-8 - combined record of the Top 25.
13 - number of teams that are a perfect 5-0.
17 - ranked teams that remain undefeated through Week 5.
1 - Grand Valley State remains the only Top 10 team with a loss.
21-3 - combined record of this week's Top 25 last weekend. Then-No. 8 Colorado Mesa lost to then-No. 17 Colorado State-Pueblo, dropping them 13 spots. That ties them with Arkansas Tech, who fell 13 spots to No. 24 after losing to an unranked and underrated Ouachita Baptist squad. No. 2 Texas A&M-Commerce was idle.
5 - number of teams that didn't change positions in the rankings this week. No. 1 Northwest Missouri State, No. 2 Texas A&M-Commerce, No. 3 Shepherd, No. 4 Indiana (Pennsylvania) and No. 15 Ferris State all stood pat. The means 20 other teams doing the AFCA shuffle. That's a lot of action for one weekend.
3 - number of Top 25 matchups scheduled for this Saturday. There's a Top 10 battle brewing in the Lone Star Conference between No. 2 Texas A&M-Commerce and No. 10 Midwestern State. The No. 16 California (Pennsylvania) Vulcans face their second Top 25 matchup in as many weeks as they head to No. 4 Indiana (Pennsylvania). No. 22 Winona State has been on a fast climb the past two weeks, but will have to figure out how to stop Max Mickey and the balanced attack of No. 6 Sioux Falls.
Last week, the Top 5 was dominated by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. That's changed after California (Pennsylvania) fell to Slippery Rock. Now the Top 10 is Northern Sun and Lone Star Conference territoty. Both conferences are represented by a duo of schools; Minnesota State and Sioux Falls hails from the NSIC while Texas A&M-Commerce and Midwestern State represent the LSC.
|Conference||Teams in Top 25|
|PSAC||3 (California (PA), Indiana (PA), Slippery Rock)|
|NSIC||3 (Sioux Falls, Minnesota State, Winona State)|
|GLIAC||3 (Grand Valley State, Ferris State, Ashland)|
|MIAA||2 (NWMSU, Fort Hays State)|
|LSC||2 (Texas A&M-Commerce, Midwestern State)|
|RMAC||2 (Colorado Mesa, Colorado State-Pueblo)|
|GNAC||2 (Central Washington, Humboldt State)|
|GSC||2 (Delta State, West Georgia)|
|GAC||2 (Southeastern Oklahoma State, Arkansas Tech)|
|CIAA||1 (Bowie State)|