Sept. 8, 2009

By Amy Farnum

Saginaw Valley State vaulted eight spots to No. 16 in the latest AFCA Division II Top 25 following its 21-13 victory over Wayne State (Mich.) Sept. 5, and now, the Cardinals have their toughest challenge to date coming for a visit as they welcome No. 1 Grand Valley State Sept. 12.

The Cardinals boast the best passing attack in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, allowing just 103 yards against WSU.  Senior linebacker John Jacobs, who collected 12 tackles, a sack and an interception last weekend, anchored the SVSU defensive unit that held Wayne State to 247 total yards.  The native of Prudenville, Mich., was named GLIAC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts, but Jacobs and his teammates will have their work cut out for them against senior quarterback Brad Iciek and junior running back James Berezik -- both all-stars at their positions.

Grand Valley State will put their streak of 44 consecutive regular season wins and 41 straight GLIAC victories on the line against the Cardinals.  Following the SVSU contest, the Lakers will have just five days to prepare to host Michigan Tech for a nationally-televised Thursday night showdown on the CBS College Sports Network.

INSTANT CLASSIC:  Pitt State continued to dismantle its slate of nationally-ranked foes, picking up its second victory in a convincing 41-13 win over then-No. 7 Chadron State last weekend, but there is no rest for the weary as the Gorillas head to Kansas City, Mo., to battle No. 7 Northwest Missouri State in the Fall Classic at Arrowhead VIII on Sept. 12.

Junior quarterback John McCoy was responsible for five touchdowns and 324 total yards, including a career-best 112 yards rushing and two TD runs as the Gorilla offense compiled 426 yards on the day, and was selected Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Offensive Player of the Week for his contributions, but it may PSU’s defense that gives the No. 7 Bearcats the most difficult challenge.  The Gorillas have allowed just 78 rushing yards combined in the first two games. 

Northwest enters the highly-touted contest with a 28-game winning streak against MIAA foes, which includes two victories over Pitt State last season.  The Fall Classic has been the most highly attended event in Division II football in six of the last seven years, averaging almost 23,000 fans at the home of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.

‘CATS READY TO POUNCE:  Fresh off an upset of defending NCAA champion Minnesota Duluth, Central Washington is preparing for its next test as the Wildcats host West Texas A&M Sept. 12 in a rematch of last year’s first-round NCAA Division II playoff contest. 

Senior Ryan Dyer blocked a UMD field goal attempt on the final play of the game to give Central Washington a 13-10 win over the second-ranked Bulldogs, snapping their 17-game winning streak.

The Wildcats are on the upswing, moving to No. 6 in the latest AFCA Division II Top 25 with the victory, however WTAMU is looking for its first win of the season after falling to Central Oklahoma, 24-17, last weekend.  The Buffs are 0-2 for the first time since the 2004 season, but did defeat the Wildcats, 49-42, in last year’s NCAA playoff matchup.

QUICK HITS:  Central Oklahoma snuck back into the national rankings at No. 24 this week following the Bronchos’ upset at then-No. 13 West Texas A&M, and they will stay on the road to face another nationally-ranked foe when they travel to No. 11 Texas A&M-Kingsville on Sept. 12.  It will be the third straight week the Bronchos have faced a ranked opponent … West Alabama’s Deon Williams became the school’s first Gulf South Conference Offensive Player of the Week honoree since 2002 after tossing a career-high four TD passes in a win over Harding.  After starting the game 4-for-10, Williams connected on 16 of 18 passes to finish the outing, including 13 straight completions.  UWA will host Arkansas Tech in the GSC Game of the Week on Sept. 10 at 7 p.m., which will be broadcast live on Comcast Sports Southeast … Senior kicker Nick Hope of Wayne State (Neb.) nailed two field goals to become the school’s all-time leader in field goal attempts during a 41-0 win at MSU Moorhead on Sept. 5. Hope, who holds the career record with 27 field goals, was named Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Special Teams Player of the Week as he collected 11 points on the day.