Notebook: And Down The Stretch They Come
Nov. 4, 2009
By Amy Farnum
As Division II football heads into the final week of regular season play, there are still some teams making that last push to move up the regional rankings and secure a spot in the NCAA playoffs.
The Division II Championship 24-team bracket will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 3 p.m. ET. The selection show will be aired live on ESPNews. The playoffs will begin on Nov. 14 and champion will be crowned on Saturday, Dec. 12 in Florence, Ala.
STATE GAME: There are three games between AFCA Division II Top 25 this week including a match-up of nationally-ranked teams in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference as the divisional champions No. 18 California (Pa.) and No. 23 Shippensburg meet on Nov. 7.
The Vulcans have won five straight PSAC West titles and are unbeaten against divisional opponents in the last three seasons. The Red Raiders earned its first divisional title since 2004, and first outright championship since 1981.
The match-up pits the top two offenses in the PSAC, as California averages 34.3 points per game while Shippensburg averages 33.0 points per game. The two teams rank fourth and fifth in total offense while the Vulcans also boast the second-best scoring defense in the conference (17.4 ppg). The Red Raiders have scored at least 23 points in all 10 games this season, a feat never before achieved in 105 seasons of organized football at the university.
Shippensburg, which earned its first national ranking since 2004 this week, has also beaten two ranked opponents: No. 3 Bloomsburg and No. 15 Edinboro. Both teams are 8-2 and are jockeying for position in the Super Regional One rankings. California and Shippensburg are second and third, respectively, after top-ranked West Liberty State in the poll.
STUBBORN MULES: No. 16 Central Missouri kept itself in contention for an NCAA playoff berth, but the Mules will have to knock off third-ranked Northwest Missouri State on Nov. 7 if they want to secure their place in the bracket.
The Mules came from behind last weekend to defeat Missouri Southern, 27-17, as they posted their first eight-win season since 2003. It was also CMU’s first time it went unbeaten (6-0) at home.
Northwest Missouri is ranked second in the Super Regional Four rankings, and have already claimed the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association crown with a perfect 8-0 mark in league play so far this season. The Bearcats boast the MIAA’s top-ranked offense in yards (476.4) and points (43.4) per game, while the defense leads the league in scoring with just 18.2 points per game allowed.
The Mules, who are ranked No. 6 in the Super Regional Four rankings, must win against the mighty Bearcats for a playoff spot. If they lose, the Mules will be in contention for a spot in the Kanza Bowl or Mineral Water Bowl.
TEXAS TWO-STEP: In the Lone Star Conference, Tarleton State has already clinched at least a share of the divisional and overall league titles, but the two teams behind the Texans in the standings will be battling for position in the competitive Super Regional Four rankings as No. 9 Midwestern State hosts No. 12 Abilene Christian on No. 7.
The Mustangs have won three straight games entering the contest, and their only losses were both on field goals with less than five seconds remaining at Angelo State and Tarleton State this season. They are No. 7 in the region. After losing two games in a row for the first time since 2001, the Wildcats returned to the No. 4 spot in Super Region Four this week.
Super Region 4, which consists of the Lone Star Conference, Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics
Association and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, continues to dominate the AFCA Top 25 as 10 teams are receiving mention.
ON THE TUBE: Shepherd travels to Glenville State in a nationally-televised battle for second place in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS College Sports.
CBS College Sports is channel 152 on Dish Network and channel 613 on DirecTV. Fox Sports Net South, Metro Sports, Cox Sports New England are other regional networks that will be carrying the contest on a live basis. It will be rebroadcast at 10:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Pittsburgh.
GSC is coming off a 14-12 upset of then-No. 19 Charleston last week, while Shepherd is fresh off a resounding 55-14 victory over West Virginia State.
QUICK HITS: No. 1 North Alabama will attempt a perfect regular season for the fifth time in school history as the Lions tangle with West Alabama on Nov. 7. The Lions’ senior class has never lost a regular season home game at Braly Stadium … Nebraska-Kearney has won nine straight games and can claim the outright Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title with a win at Mesa State on Saturday. The Lopers’ nine wins ties a school season record … Carson-Newman running back Buck Wakefield earned South Atlantic Conference Offensive Player of the Week after setting a school single-game rushing record with 303 yards in a 45-7 win over Wingate as the Eagles clinched the outright league title last weekend. The Eagles have won eight straight games en route to their 21st SAC championship. C-N concludes its season with a home game against Tusculum this weekend.