|Top Division II Matchups|
Who: No. 2 Delta State Statesmen at No. 1 North Alabama Lions
Who: No. 11 Colorado State-Pueblo ThunderWolves at No. 4 Nebraska-Kearney Lopers
Who: No. 6 Wayne State (Mich.) Warriors at Ashland Eagles
Who: No. 17 West Texas A&M Buffaloes at No. 10 Abilene Christian Wildcats
Who: No. 22 West Alabama Tigers at No. 12 Valdosta State Blazers
|Watch Them Now|
8 Ray Wagner
Key Notes: Wagner had 2011′s largest offensive outpout of any player in Division II a week ago against ranked Kutztown. The senior accounted for 544 yards of offense, including 522 through the air in a 49-32 loss. The Warriors are just 1-5 this season but Wagner leads Division II in total offense with 378.3 yards per game and ranks second in passing with 360.7 yards per game as the trigger man in the ESU passing attack, which also ranks second nationally. Wagner’s performance through the first half of the season has come against a schedule that ranks as the eighth-toughest in Division II. He looks to continue that this Saturday vs. C.W. Post. ESU head coach Denny Douds will make history no matter the outcome, as he will tie the Division II record for most games coached with 393.
Other Players to Watch this Week: Richard Haley, Minnesota-Crookston (Fr., RB); Jonas Randolph, Mars Hill (Sr., RB); Adam Neugebauer, West Virginia Wesleyan (Sr., QB); Wesley Wood, Eastern New Mexico (Jr., QB); Troy Burrell, Wayne State (Mich.) (Sr., WR); Isaiah Voegeli, Merrimack (Jr., WR); Clarence Laster, Southwestern Oklahoma (Sr., DB); Jordan Campbell, New Mexico Highlands (Jr., LB).
|Keep Your Eyes on This|
• Thursday night brings one of the best matchups in all of college football when No. 1 North Alabama hosts No. 2 Delta State in the Gulf South Conference opener for each team. Such a high-profile meeting between these two teams is nothing new. It will be the ninth time since 2004 that both UNA and Delta State have been nationally ranked when they faced each other, and the fifth time that both have been ranked in the top 10. It will be the third time the Lions have played in a game which featured the top two teams in the nation, with the other two coming in 1994 — two wins for North Alabama including the national championship. This will be UNA’s 45th all-time game as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Lions have a 41-3 record as the top-ranked team. To improve on that mark, UNA will have to slow down the ninth-best offense in the nation, as Delta State averages 486.6 yards per game. Statesmen QB Micah Davis has 21 total touchdowns.
• Is it too early to start talking about conference titles? Not at all. Especially in the RMAC this weekend when No. 11 Colorado-State-Pueblo travels east to No. 4 Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday. It will be the first time at the Division II level that the Lopers play a game in which both teams are ranked in the top 11. Both the Lopers and ThunderWolves are 6-0 (4-0 RMAC) on the season. The winner of Saturday’s game not only is in the driver’s seat to win the RMAC title but also has a chance at claiming one of the top two playoff spots in Super Region 3. The ThunderWolves currently lead the league in scoring defense (11.5 ppg) while the Lopers are second nationally in scoring offense (50.0 ppg). UNK QB Jake Spitzlberger is second in the nation in total offense, averaging 371.2 yards per game.
• No. 17 West Texas A&M and No. 10 Abilene Christian will renew acquaintances for the 45th time Saturday. The teams have met eight times since 2005 — including two playoff games — with each team having won four times. However, the home team hasn’t won the regular-season contest since ACU beat West Texas A&M in the regular-season finale in 2002. The Buffs have knocked off ACU in the Wildcats’ homecoming contest in their last three regular-season visits to Shotwell Stadium: 40-24 in 2005, 41-31 in 2007 and 32-21 in 2009. Both teams sport passing offenses ranked in the top six nationally in what could be another shootout.
• While Northwest Missouri State and Pittsburg State have stolen the headlines in the MIAA this season, Washburn has quietly climbed the ranks and is now the No. 5 team in the nation. The Ichabods have won 10 games in a row dating back to last season — tied for the longest streak in Division II — and get one more tune-up this week against Central Oklahoma before their showdown with Northwest Missouri State on Oct. 22.
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