Aug. 3, 2010

By Amy Farnum

  Northwest Missouri State, the defending Division II national champion, was voted as the preseason favorite to win the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association by both the league’s head coaches and media for the fifth straight year, and sixth time in eight seasons.

The Bearcats have claimed the MIAA title in 11 of the last 14 years, and enter the 2010 season on a 40-game winning streak against league foes dating back to 2005.  During the streak, Northwest has averaged over a 25-point margin of victory.  The Bearcats have won four consecutive MIAA titles with flawless conference records.  No. 1 Northwest will open the season on Sept. 2 against the Lone Star Conference’s Texas A&M-Kingsville, ranked No. 10 nationally in the USA Today Division II poll.

Nebraska-Omaha placed second in the preseason coaches’ poll, while the media second Washburn as the league runner-up.  The Bearcats must go on the road to face both squads heading to Omaha on Sept. 18 and Topeka on Oct. 23.

KEYSTONE STATE FAVORITES: California (Pa.) was predicted to continue its reign as the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West champion as the coaches voted the Vulcans to repeat to win the division title.  The Vulcans have not lost a PSAC West game in three seasons, and have advanced to the NCAA Division II semifinals for three straight years – the only Division II team to accomplish the feat other than defending NCAA champion Northwest Missouri State, which has won five straight regional titles.  Cal returns seven starters on both the offense and defense, including quarterback Josh Portis, who led the league with 36 passing touchdowns.  

In the PSAC East, West Chester is the favorite despite a 7-4 season in 2009 – the first time in five years the Golden Rams did not advance to the NCAA playoffs. WCU was the top vote-getter in the East but did not receive a single first-plate nod.  The Golden Rams return only three starters from last year’s league-leading defense, highlighted by defensive lineman Travis Ford-Bey, a three-time All-PSAC East selection.  Despite welcoming back seven starters on offense, WCU will trot out a new quarterback with sophomore Matt Mattei in the team’s season opener at Delaware (Division I FCS) on Sept. 2.

The winners of the East and West Divisions will meet in the PSAC Championship Game or “State Game”, which the West will host on Nov. 13.

SPARKING THE EAGLES: Carson-Newman College was selected as the favorite to claim the South Atlantic Conference title with eight starters returning from the 2009 squad that swept through league play and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA playoffs after starting the season 0-2.

The Eagles will be looking for their 22nd league title under head coach Ken Sparks, who was recently named as one of three head coaches that will be inducted into the Division II Football Hall of Fame.  Sparks is the all-time winningest coach in Division II with a 287-70-2 record in 30 years.  

Sparks will be joined by Northwest Missouri State University head coach Mel Tjeerdsma and long-time University of North Alabama coach and current University of West Alabama head coach Bobby Wallace as part of the Hall's 12th induction class on December 17.

Carson-Newman will host Winona State in a non-conference contest on Aug. 28 to open the 2010 season.

The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference will host its annual Football Media Day on Aug. 4, and fans can watch the head coaches talk about the upcoming season live on the Internet.

The event can be viewed for no charge at 10 a.m. MDT:

Nebraska-Kearney won the RMAC title with a 9-0 mark last season.  The Lopers return 10 starters and 19 letterwinners from the championship squad that compiled a school-best 11-2 mark.  One issue that is sure to be addressed during head coach Darrell Morris’ 10-minute window to speak is UNK’s recent announcement that the school will seek membership in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.