Shorter at No. 1 Valdosta State, 7 p.m. ET Saturday
After a victory and a bye week to open the 2013 season, Valdosta State returns to action and jumps into Gulf South Conference play as the Blazers welcome Shorter to Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
Valdosta State opened the year with a 36-21 victory against Fort Valley State two weeks ago. A balanced offensive attack against the Wildcats was led by quarterback Cayden Cochran, who passed for 285 yards and three touchdowns while running for another score. Running back Cedric O'Neal rushed for 94 yards and a score while wide receiver Willie Downs had two receiving touchdowns to go along with 97 yards.
Justin Williams led a strong defensive effort for the Blazers as he tallied a career-high 10 tackles, while Lawrence Virgil had a hand in three of VSU's four sacks in the game. Overall, Valdosta State had 12 tackles for loss against FVSU, led by three each from Virgil and Tevin Davis.
Shorter, which is in its second year of transition to Division II, has dropped its first two games of the 2013 campaign after turning in a 6-5 season last year. While games against the Hawks count in the GSC standings, Shorter is not eligible for the GSC championship this season and becomes a full member of the conference next year.
Shorter is averaging 22.5 points and 392.5 yards of offense out of its option offense. The majority of the yardage comes on the ground as the Hawks are averaging 280.5 rushing yards per game, led by quarterback Eric Dodson, who has rushed for 256 yards in the first two contests. Dodson has also completed 10 of 29 passes for 224 yards on the season.
The Hawks defense surrenders 32.0 points and 419.5 yards per game. Much of Shorter's problems in the early going of 2013 can be attributed to turnovers, as the Hawks have lost two fumbles and thrown three interceptions. Shorter opponents have not committed a turnover.
No. 2 Minnesota State-Mankato at No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth, 7 p.m. ET
Fresh off its 68-26 victory against Minnesota-Crookston, Minnesota State-Mankato will hit the road as it takes on Minnesota-Duluth.
Saturday's encounter will mark the 35th meeting between the Mavericks and the Bulldogs, with Minnesota-Duluth leading the all-time series 19-14-1. The Bulldogs have won the past two meetings against the Mavericks. Minnesota State-Mankato last defeated Minnesota-Duluth in 2007.
Minnesota State-Mankato boasted 532 yards of total offense, including 327 yards on the ground, in beating Minnesota-Crookston to improve to 2-0 on the season. Connor Thomas tallied 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Jon Wolf finished the game with seven completions, in as many attempts, for 140 yards and two touchdowns, both to Dennis Carter.
Minnesota-Duluth improved to 2-0 last week after defeating Upper Iowa. The Bulldogs tallied 407 yards of total offense, including 263 rushing yards.
On offense, the Bulldogs are led by quarterback Austin Sikorski, who has tallied a team-high 183 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Drew Bauer has tallied 137 yards on the ground, as well, while posting two touchdowns.
On defense, the Bulldogs have forced six turnovers on the season, including two interceptions that have been returned for touchdowns.
No. 3 Northwest Missouri State at Fort Hays State, 8 p.m. ET Saturday
Northwest Missouri State is looking to beat Fort Hays State for the 10th consecutive time, dating to 1979. The Bearcats lead the all-time series 15-12-1.
Northwest Missouri State (2-0) is coming off a 28-24 come-from-behind victory against Central Missouri. Down by 17 points to Central Missouri early in the first quarter, Northwest turned to backup quarterback Brady Bolles, who helped spark the Bearcat offense, accounting for three touchdowns including the go-ahead score with just 2:51 remaining in the game. He finished the game with 82 rushing and 191 passing.
During head coach Adam Dorrel’s three seasons at the helm, Northwest has won all 18 contests in which the Bearcats have outrushed opponents. When an opponent rushes for under 100 yards, Northwest is 9-0 under Dorrel. This year, rushing totals have favored the Bearcats in both wins. Heading into Week 3, Northwest ranks ninth in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association with 181.5 rushing yards per game and are second in rush defense, allowing just 96 yards per game.
Fort Hays State (0-2) is second-to-last in the MIAA in total offense, averaging just 288.5 yards per game, and 67 yards on the ground, and last in total defense, allowing 555.5 yards per game. Time of possession has played a big factor in each of those numbers as FHSU is last in the conference in that category, holding the ball for just an average of 23:31 through the first two games. The Tigers are also last in turnover margin in the MIAA at -6.
Texas A&M-Commerce at No. 4 West Texas A&M, 7 p.m. ET Saturday
West Texas A&M opens the 2013 home season against Texas A&M-Commerce in a key Lone Star Conference battle as both teams enter 2-0.
The Buffs are coming off a thrilling 34-31 come-from-behind win against No. 18 Chadron State. Texas A&M-Commerce upset 25th-ranked Delta State 45-37 for its first win against a ranked team since 2001.
Texas A&M- leads the all-time series 14-13, but the Buffs have won five in a row in the series and eight of 12. West Texas A&M has scored more than 40 points in the previous three meetings and not allowed more than 14 points during that span.
Aaron Harris rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns, while catching four passes for 21 yards and a score in win against Chadron State. Linebacker Taylor McCuller tallied a career-high 10 solo tackles and his first career interception that set up the Buffs' game-winning field goal. He had 17 total tackles for the game.
The revamped Lions lead the nation in sacks per game (9.5) and tackles for loss per game (19.0). Defensive end Tevin Moore leads the nation at 2.5 sacks per game and 4.0 tackles for loss. He is second on the team in tackles with 13.
Offensively, the Lions are led by quarterback Tyrik Rollison and wide receiver Vernon Johnson as Johnson has hauled in 129 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Rollison is 53 of 80 with six touchdowns and one interception for 666 yards.
Western New Mexico at No. 5 Colorado State-Pueblo, 3 p.m. ET Saturday
Colorado State-Pueblo is 2-0 so far this season, having defeated FCS Northern Colorado 41-36 and Angelo State 45-24.
The ThunderWolves have been bringing along a new quarterback in Chris Bonner, who has passed for five touchdowns to just two interceptions, while throwing for 557 yards. His main targets have been Paul Browning with nine catches for 261 yards and two scores and Kieren Duncan, who has 102 yards on three catches. On the ground, two have tallied more than 100 yards in Cameron McDondle and Chris Ashe. McDondle has attempted 28 carries for 229 yards and two touchdowns, while Ashe has 20 rushes for 125 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively they have allowed 169.5 rushing yards per game and three rushing touchdowns. In the passing game, opponents have thrown for 298 yards per game and four touchdowns. Colorado State-Pueblo has three interceptions and has collected three fumble recoveries. Of the total turnovers forced, three have been returned for touchdowns. Teams are converting 33 percent of third downs (12 of 36).
Western New Mexico is 0-1 and coming off a bye week. In its game two weeks ago against San Diego, a 38-35 loss, Mitch Glasmann threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Ronnell Pompey and Donald Byrd each went for more than 100 yards with Pompey bringing in eight passes for 193 yards and a score, while Byrd had two touchdowns along with six catches for 103 yards. Adrian Lopez had a solid first game on defense for the Mustangs, posting a team-high 10 tackles, with eight coming solo.
Last season, Western New Mexico and Colorado State-Pueblo went down to the wire with the ThunderWolves coming away with the 35-27 victory.
No. 6 Missouri Western State at Nebraska-Kearney, 4 p.m. ET Saturday
Missouri Western State hasn’t had much success at Nebraska-Kearney. This marks the 24th meeting between the two schools. The Lopers hold a 16-7 advantage in the series, including a 9-2 mark in Kearney. However, the Griffons have won the last four meetings in the series, including a 38-14 victory in 2012.
The Griffons (2-0) defense has been outstanding so far this season as they lead the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association in scoring defense (13.0 points per game), total defense (287.5 yards per game), rushing defense (45.5 yards per game), punting (43.9 yards per punt), opponent first downs (15.5 per game) and opponent third-down conversions percentage (23.1).
When the Griffons rush for more than200 yards in a game they are almost perfect. The Griffons are 1-0 this year after racking up more than 300 yards on the ground against Missouri S&T last week. Last season the Griffons were 11-1 when rushing for over 200 yards as a team with their lone loss coming against Missouri Southern.
The Griffons had two players rush for more than 100 yards in the win against Missouri S&T. Raphael Spencer rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns while Tra Brown rushed for 109 and a touchdown.
No. 8 Indiana (Pa.) at Seton Hill, 6 p.m. ET
The Crimson Hawks open up their 2013 Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference West schedule as they hit the road to face Seton Hill. IUP enters with a 2-0 record. The Griffins, playing in their first year as members of the PSAC, are 0-2 on the season with losses to Fairmont State (37-29) and East Stroudsburg (70-7).
This will be the first meeting between these two schools. Seton Hill spent seven years in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference prior to joining the PSAC, putting together an overall record of 19-59, going 11-37 in conference play. The Griffins went 10-3 in 2009, earning an NCAA playoff berth.
Indiana (Pa.) is an impressive 28-2 in PSAC West openers dating to 1983.
De'Antwan Williams has rushed for 166 yards with a 6.6 per carry average in IUP's first two games after being granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA prior to the season opener.
New head coach Cecil Collins brings a high-scoring attack from Division III Widener to the Griffins. Seton Hill has thrown 66 percent of the time through two games this year, with QB Nick Halfhill leading the attack. Twleve different receivers have at least one catch this year, with Halfhill's favorite target being WR Norman Darden with 12 receptions for 215 yards and four TDs.
No. 9 Henderson State at Southeastern Oklahoma, 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Henderson State heads to Southeastern Oklahoma driving a steamroller after opening the year with an 82-10 win against Southern Nazarene and following it up with a 75-14 victory against McKendree.
The team is putting up 765 yard of offense per game, with 507 per outing coming through the air.
Quarterback Kevin Rogers leads the team with 848 yards passing on a 48 of 70 performance and is averaging 424 yards per game with 11 touchdowns and one interception.
The Savage Storm are coming off a disappointing 42-34 loss on the road to Arkansas-Monticello which dropped them to 1-1 overall.
Southeastern Oklahoma has been solid on the offensive side of the ball, posting 491.0 yards per game of total offense, dividing it in a balanced fashion with the running game racking up 206.5 yards per outing on the ground, while the passing game has aired it out for an average of 284.5 yards per game. The running game is powered by the explosive Devlon Wortham, who has racked up 312 yards on the season and three touchdowns and is averaging 10.8 yards per carry.
The Savage Storm defense has taken some lumps on the season and as a result opponents are averaging 46.0 points per game and 557 yards per game of total offense, the bulk of which is through the air at 392.5 yards per game.
Tiffin at No. 10 Grand Valley State, 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Grand Valley State (2-0) is coming off a 31-15 win against Truman State in which it rolled up 565 yards of total offense. Brandan Green had a huge game, catching six passes for 223 yards and a touchdown, the third-most receiving yards in a single game in school history.
For the season, Grand Valley State’s Michael Ratay has scored four touchdowns and is averaging 124 yards a game in all-purpose yardage.
Tiffin (0-2) is led by Joey Frendo, who has thrown for 565 yards and two touchdowns, and Tony Shead, who has 16 catches for 200 yards. Shead also has four kick returns for 168 yards, including an 85-yard return for a touchdown against Michigan Tech.
Grand Valley State leads the all-time series 5-0. The Lakers have shut out the Dragons three times, including last year. Grand Valley State has the second-longest streak without being shut out at 252 games. Valdosta State is at 261 games.