Nov. 23, 2010

By Amy Farnum

No. 4 St. Cloud State (10-2) at No. 1 Minnesota Duluth (11-0), 12 p.m. CT

After topping Hillsdale College in first-round action last Saturday, the Huskies move on to play No. 1 Minnesota Duluth for a regular season rematch between Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference foes. The Huskies matched their school-record for victories in a season with their second-ever NCAA Division II playoff win. Senior running back Dante Steward returned from injury to rush for 153 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries. Steward tore his MCL against Southwest Minnesota State on Oct. 16, missing the last four games of the regular season.

UMD has wreaked havoc on defenses all season long, and enters the contest leading the nation in scoring with 46.73 points per game, and the third-best rushing offense in Division II with 290.64 yards per game. The Huskies will counter with a defense that has allowed just 17.26 points per game, good for 19th in the nation, and a rushing offense of their own that is racking up over 200 yards per game.

The two squads met on Oct. 30 with the Bulldogs scoring 20 unanswered third-quarter points en route to a 40-17 victory over the Huskies. UMD leads the all-time series 20-22. The top-seeded Bulldogs, who received a first-round bye, are back in the NCAA playoffs for the third straight season and fifth overall trip after posting a perfect regular season record. UMD won the 2008 NCAA title.

No. 3 Grand Valley State (11-1) at No. 2 Augustana (S.D.) (10-1), 12 p.m. CT
The Augies earned a first-round bye after putting together a 10-1 regular season mark and a second-place finish in the NSIC. Augustana will host its first-ever playoff game when perennial national power Grand Valley State comes to town on Saturday. The Augies are 0-2 in NCAA playoff action after making back-to-back appearances in 1988 and 1989.

The Lakers began their 10th straight trip to the NCAA playoffs with a 35-13 win over Colorado School of Mines last weekend, improving to 28-10 all-time in 15 postseason appearances.

Augustana boasts one of the top defenses in the nation, allowing just 243.91 yards and 13.82 points per game, which both rank sixth in Division II. GVSU will counter with the nations 10th-best scoring offense that is averaging 38.91 points per game, and a 1.18 turnover margin, which ranks 18th in Division II. The two schools will meet for the first time in series history.

No. 4 Central Missouri (10-2) at No. 1 Abilene Christian (11-0), 12 p.m. CT

The Mules won their first-ever playoff game with a 55-35 defeat of West Texas A&M, earning the right to play top-seeded and unbeaten Abilene Christian on Saturday. Senior quarterback Eric Czerniewski collected 368 yards passing and four TDs in the game as the Mules advanced to the second round of the NCAA playoffs for the first time in program history.

ACU received a first-round bye for the second time in the last three years after the Wildcats posted their first 11-0 regular season mark in school history. The Wildcats are one of five Division II teams that have earned playoff berths in each of the last five years. Northwest Missouri State, Grand Valley State, Albany State and North Alabama join the Wildcats on that list.

The Mules entered the playoffs averaging 488 total yards and 386 passing yards per game, good for fifth and fourth in the nation, respectively. ACU ranks in the top 10 in passing offense (313.82 ypg), total offense (476.74 ypg), scoring offense (43.55 ppg) and rushing defense (80.64 ypg). This will be the first meeting between the two programs.

No. 3 Northwest Missouri State (10-1) at No. 2 Texas A&M-Kingsville (10-1), 12 p.m. CT

The Bearcats survived a first-round scare against rival Missouri Western, rallying from a 17-0 deficit for a 28-24 victory to advance to a rematch contest at second-seeded Texas A&M-Kingsville on Saturday. It was the largest deficit Northwest has overcome to win in 41 playoff games as the Bearcats continued on their quest for a sixth straight appearance in the national championship game.

TAMUK defeated then-No. 1 Northwest, 16-7, to open the season and went on to post its first 10-win season since 2003. The Javelinas boast the nations top rushing defense, which is allowing just 54 yards on the ground per game. TAMUK is giving up just 14.27 points per game, which ranks seventh in the nation.

Northwest leads the series 2-1, including two meetings in the NCAA playoffs. The Bearcats defeated TAMUK, 49-34, in the 1998 semifinals, and topped the Javelinas, 34-14, in the second round in 2004.

No. 4 Wingate (9-2) at No. 1 Albany State (10-0), 12 p.m. ET
The Bulldogs exploded for 614 yards of total offense as they earned a 63-41 victory over Morehouse in their first-ever NCAA playoff game last weekend, advancing to a second-round match-up against top-seeded Albany State. Quarterback Cody Haffly threw for 477 yards and seven touchdowns against the Maroon Tigers. Wingate entered the playoffs with the seventh-ranked passing offense in the nation, averaging 335.36 yards per game.

Wingate will face a mighty challenge against Albany State as the Golden Rams lead the nation in both pass efficiency defense (87.35) and total defense (205.20 ypg). The Rams, who enjoyed a first-round bye, are led offensively by Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the year Stanley Jennings, who paced the league with 2,066 passing yards and 23 touchdown passes, and ranks second in nation with a 170.60 pass efficiency rating.

The Golden Rams are making their seventh straight NCAA playoff appearance, and 12th overall. Albany State is 2-11 all-time in NCAA play with its last victory coming in 2004 against Arkansas Tech.

No. 6 North Alabama (9-3) at No. 2 Delta State (9-3), 12 p.m. CT

The Lions avenged a regular season loss to Valdosta State last weekend to advance to the second round where they will meet another familiar foe at No. 2 Delta State. UNA topped the Statesmen, 31-7, on Oct. 28 after forcing four turnovers and collecting 426 yards of total offense in the contest.

UNA is 11-5 all-time in rematch games, and this will be the fourth time the Lions have faced Delta State twice in a season. The Lions have won the last two playoff games against the Statesmen in 2007 and 2008, while Delta State avenged a regular season loss in 2006 with a playoff victory. North Alabama has won seven of the last nine meetings versus DSU, and leads the all-time series 30-21-1. The Lions are 9-1 in second round NCAA playoff games, including victories in each of the last five years. Delta State is 9-4 all-time in five previous playoff appearances.

The Statesmen are ranked eighth in the nation in total offense with 475 yards per game, while the Lions boast a stout pass efficiency defense of 95.08, good for fourth in Division II, and a scoring defense that is giving up just 12.0 points per game (third in nation).

No. 4 Shepherd (10-1) at No. 1 Kutztown (10-1), 12 p.m. ET
The Rams are coming off a convincing 40-6 first-round victory over Shaw University, and advance to face top-seeded Kutztown, which will be playing in the programs first-ever NCAA playoff game. Shepherd enters the match-up with the nations sixth-best scoring offense at 40.18 points per game sparked by a ground game that is averaging 210.91 yards per game and features junior running back Tommy Addison (120.27 ypg).

Kutztown also boasts a high-powered offense that is scoring 39.27 points per game led by a passing offense that is averaging almost 300 yards per game. Quarterback Kevin Morton, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Offensive Player of the Year, has thrown for a school-record 3,281 yards and 34 TD passes this season.

It will be the first meeting between the two programs. Shepherd is 4-5 in six all-time playoff appearances, while Kutztown has advanced to the postseason for the first time.

No. 6 Bloomsburg (10-2) at No. 2 Mercyhurst (9-2), 12 p.m. ET
The Huskies rode the back of the nations leading running back Franklyn Quiteh, who ran for 141 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-26 defeat of California (Pa.), moving on to the second round to face No. 2 Mercyhurst on Nov. 27. The Lakers, who earned a first-round bye, will be making their first-ever NCAA Division II playoff appearance.

Bloomsburg is now 8-7 all-time in eight NCAA appearances. The Huskies have advanced past the first round five times. Bloomsburg leads the all-time series 2-1 with all three games coming in the last three years, including a match-up between the two teams in the PSAC Championship on Nov. 13, which the Lakers won 56-37.

It is the fourth rematch game of this years NCAA Division II second round.