football-d2 flag | September 27, 2013

Top 10 Preview

Angelo State at No. 1 Valdosta State, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

Coming off its first shutout victory in nearly three years, Valdosta State will face a tough test as Angelo State visits Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. The Blazers enter the game with a 2-0 record while the Rams come in at 1-2.

Valdosta State, which is coming off a 41-0 win against Shorter, features a balanced offensive attack as the Blazers average 201.0 rushing yards and 235.0 passing yards per game. The Blazer offense, which is averaging 38.5 points per game, is led by running backs Cedric O'Neal and Austin Scott, who have combined for 361 yards and four touchdowns in the first two games. Quarterback Cayden Cochran has passed for 462 yards and six scores while wide receiver Regginald Lewis has caught eight passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Valdosta State surrenders 10.5 points, 88.0 rushing yards and 247.0 passing yards each contest. The Black Swarm defense has recorded 10 sacks and 22 tackles for loss and is led by linebacker Justin Williams, who counts 4.5 tackles for loss among his 16 tackles on the season. Defensive tackle Lawrence Virgil has proven to be disruptive up front as he has tallied 2.5 sacks, 4.0 tackles for loss and forced three fumbles.

Angelo State has put up big numbers offensively on the year as the Rams average 523.3 yards of total offense per game. Angelo State passes for 236.3 and rushes for 287.0 per contest while scoring 32.0 points a game. Quarterback Kyle Washington, who played sparingly against Valdosta State last year, leads the offense with 563 passing yards and 281 more on the ground to go along with four rushing touchdowns and four more through the air.

The Rams also own an eight-minute per game advantage in time of possession, but have been victimized through the air as they are allowing 309.0 passing yards each game. The Angelo State defense also gives up 171.7 rushing yards to go along with 36.3 points per contest. Linebacker Rush Seaver leads the defensive unit with 25 tackles on the year and returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown two weeks ago against Colorado State-Pueblo.

The game marks just the second meeting between the two schools. Valdosta State won 43-10 last year.

Northern State at No. 2 Minnesota State-Mankato, 3 p.m. ET Saturday

Fresh off its 21-17 road victory over Minnesota-Duluth, second-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato returns home for its annual homecoming weekend as it plays host to Northern State. The game will be the seventh time the Mavericks and Wolves have played one another, with Minnesota State-Mankato leading the all-time series 5-1.

Against Minnesota-Duluth, Nathan Hancock made his presence felt on defense all game long with one interception, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble to go along with 10 tackles. Tyler Henderson led the Mavericks (3-0) with 11 tackles, including one sack.

Offensively, Jon Wolf rushed for a team-high 72 yards and a touchdown and threw for 115 yards and two scores.

Northern State fell to 1-2 last week as it suffered a 24-17 loss to Upper Iowa. The Wolves mustered just 263 total yards of offense, including 105 passing yards.

Jared Jacobson leads the Northern State rushing attack with 182 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Jacobson has also completed 43 of 105 passes for 528 yards and six touchdowns.

Blaine Schmidt leads the Northern State defense with 24 tackles with one interception and one fumble recovery.

Minnesota State-Mankato owns a 45-33-2 record in homecoming games, including a 4-1 record in its past five homecomings.

Nebraska-Kearney at No. 3 Northwest Missouri State, 2 p.m. ET Saturday

Northwest Missouri State looks to go to 4-0 on the season when it plays host to winless Nebraska-Kearney.

Northwest scored 30 of the game’s first 37 points to beat the Lopers 37-13 last year. The Bearcats lead the overall series 6-3.

Saturday’s matchup features two offenses that move the chains on a regular basis. Nebraska-Kearney averages 24.3 first downs per contest which ranks third in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. Northwest averages 21.7 first downs, the MIAA’s seventh-highest total. This year’s first down totals for Northwest have magnified how balanced the offensive attack has been, with 32 first downs coming on running plays and 32 on passing plays.

Nebraska-Kearney quarterback Bronson Marsh ran for a MIAA single-game-high 194 yards in a loss to Missouri Western State last week. He ranks third in the MIAA in rushing, averaging 121.7 yards per game.

The Lopers (0-3) rank second to last in pass defense, allowing 308.7 yards per game. Northwest averages 255.4 passing yards per game.

A potent ground game for Northwest features quarterback Brady Bolles (53.3 yards per game and three TDs) and backs Robert Burton (62.7 ypg and two TDs) and Billy Creason (49.0 ypg and four TDs). Overall, Northwest is averaging 40 points per game and has committed just two turnovers.

Bolles and Trevor Adams are part of a QB tandem that is a combined 59 of 108 (70.9 completion percentage) for 766 yards, five TDs and one interception.

Despite recording two picks and recovering two forced fumbles, Nebraska-Kearney is tied for last in the MIAA with a -8 turnover margin.

No. 4 West Texas A&M at Texas A&M-Kingsville, 8 p.m. ET Saturday

West Texas A&M returns to the road at Texas A&M-Kingsville in a battle of unbeaten Lone Star Conference teams. The Buffs enter with a 3-0 record and a 1-0 mark in conference play, while the Javelinas are 2-0 and playing their first conference game.

Texas A&M-Kingsville leads the all-time series 16-10-1, but the Buffs are 6-2 against the Javelinas since 2005, including wins in the past two games by a combined score of 82-31. The Javelinas won the last time the schools played in Kingsville, 28-24 in 2010.

This season, the Javelinas have a strong running game led by freshman Greg Pitre with 14 carries for 179 yards and two touchdowns.  Anthony Washington has 15 carries for 93 yards and one score, while Cornelius Shackelford has two touchdowns rushing.  The Javelinas have used three quarterbacks thus far with Alex Rios having started both games.  He is 21 of 37 for 187 yards and one touchdown, while prolific receiver Robert Armstrong has 14 catches for 111 yards and a score.

Defensively, the Javelinas are led by Brandon James, who has 16 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, while Anthony Forker has 12 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

West Texas A&M has outscored its opponents 53-17 in the second and third quarters this season. In addition, the Buffs have outscored teams 80-42 in the second half.

The West Texas A&M defense is holding teams to 12 of 42 on third-down conversions for 29 percent, which ranks second in the conference and 31st overall.

The Buffs rank high in a number of categories nationally as they are third in passing offense at 445.7 yards per game, eighth in scoring at 48 per game, sixth in sacks (4.33), 24th in passing efficiency (154.97), sixth in tackles for loss (10.7), ninth in total offense (538.0), 10th in turnover margin (1.7), 21st in turnovers gained (8) and 18th in turnovers lost (3).

West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan ranks first nationally in passing yards at 1,333 and is first in passing yards per game at 444.3.  He is third in completions per game (34.33), second in total offense (442.0) and 16th in passing efficiency at 156.1.

Receiver Torrence Allen is third nationally in receiving yards (435) and third in receiving yards per game (145.0).  He also is sixth in receptions at 9.7 per game.

Kicker Sergio Castillo leads the nation in field goals per game at 2.7 as he has eight through the first three games. He also is 13th nationally in scoring at 13.3 points per game.

No. 5 Colorado State-Pueblo at Adams State, 8 p.m. ET Saturday

Colorado State-Pueblo will go for its fifth consecutive win against Adams State when it travels to Alamosa, Colo., to take on the undefeated Grizzlies in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference showdown.

CSU-Pueblo and Adams State will meet for the 30th time. The ThunderWolves hold a 17-10-2 all-time advantage over the Grizzlies CSU-Pueblo has won the past four meetings overall and six of its past seven games at Adams State .

CSU-Pueblo and Adams State will meet as undefeated teams -- both are 3-0 -- for a second consecutive year. When the two teams met last season with matching 3-0 records, CSU-Pueblo came away with a 30-0 win.

CSU-Pueblo will seek its 30th consecutive regular-season win, the longest in all of Division II and the second-longest in all of college football, only trailing Division III powerhouse Mount Union at 75 games. The ThunderWolves will also seek its 25th consecutive RMAC win, dating to 2010. The RMAC winning streak is the second-longest, only behind Chadron State's 27-game streak from 2006-09.

CSU-Pueblo set a new standard last week by scoring 40 or more points for a third consecutive game, the first such streak of 40-plus scoring outputs in school history. Through three games, CSU-Pueblo is averaging 43.3 points per game, which is currently the 12th-highest mark in the country.

Paul Browning has quickly established himself as the top deep threat in the RMAC and Division II. He has racked up 100 receiving yards in each of the past three games, a first for any ThunderWolf in school history, and is currently ranked 10th in the nation in receiving yardage with 382. His 31.8 yards per reception is easily the most in Division II among receivers with 10 or more catches this season. He has also helped his quarterback, Chris Bonner to currently place fifth in the nation in yards per completion with 16.94.

Fort Hays State at No. 6 Missouri Western State, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

Missouri Western State looks to go 4-0 for the fourth time in the past five years and 3-0 in league play for the second consecutive season when it takes on winless Fort Hays State in a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association contest.

The Griffon defense has been outstanding so far this season. It is third in scoring defense (15.0 ppg), total defense (360.7 ypg), second in rushing defense (119.0 ypg), third in pass defense efficiency (109.1),  and leads the league in net punting (41.2 ypp). Punter Scott Groner leads the way in with a 43.6 yards per punt average. He has punted 20 times for 872 yards with a long of 61.

Griffons running back Raphael Spencer is second in the league, averaging 123 yards per game. He rushed for 171 yards on 27 carries against Nebraska-Kearney.

The Tigers are averaging just 14.7 points per game and 314 yards of total offense per game. They are giving up 48.7 points per game and 543.3 yards per game.

Andre Smith leads the Tigers on the ground rushing for 186 yards on 38 carries. He has rushed for 4.9 yards per carry and 62 yards per game. Treveon Albert leads the way passing, connecting on 44 of 82 for 538 yards (179.3 yards per game) and three touchdowns while Edin Kovac has completed 11 of 16 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. Albert has tossed six interceptions.

California (Pa.) at No. 7 Indiana (Pa.), 1 p.m. ET Saturday

Indiana (Pa.) returns home to play host to rival California (Pa.) in the fifth annual Cowl Bowl. The marks the second consecutive year both teams enter with identical 3-0 records.

The Coal Bowl, which began in 2009, has been dominated by California, as the Vulcans have won each of the four meetings. Indiana holds a 55-23-2 advantage against California in the program's third-longest running rivalry. The Vulcans, however, have owned the series as of late, winning each of the past six meetings.

The Indiana defense is back to being statistically one of the best in the nation, ranking first in scoring and total defense, 10th in passing and 25th in rushing. The Crimson Hawks recorded back-to-back shutouts for the second consecutive year and have allowed just 6.7 points per game this season.

Indiana has an average time of possession this year of just 26:47, 13th in the PSAC and 139th in Division II. Last year the Crimson Hawks finished second in the nation with a time of 34:16.

The California defense has been strong so far, allowing just 12.0 points and 60.7 rushing yards per game. Linebacker BJ Stevens is the biggest threat with 5.0 sacks, three forced fumbles and 20 tackles. The Vulcans have returned two of their six INTs for scores, including a 50-yarder by safety Dewey McDonald, who has a team-high 25 tackles (14 solo).

The bulk of California’s offense came in Week 2 against Kutztown with 430 of its 1,055 total yards (40.8 pct.) coming against the Golden Bears. QB Cody Schroeder has thrown for 725 yards and seven TDs. He's completing 60.6 percent of his passes and averages 12.1 yards per completion.

East Central at No. 8 Henderson State, 4 p.m. ET Saturday

Henderson State looks to improve to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the Great American Conference when it plays host to East Central.

Henderson State leads the all-time series 13-10-1. East Central has not defeated the Reddies since 1986, with Henderson State going 7-0-1 since.

The Reddies have a strong offense in place, averaging an NCAA-best 681 yards of total offense a game and scoring an average of 67 points per outing. The passing game, led by quarterback Kevin Rodgers, is the main focus. The Reddies average 466.3 yards in the air each game, with Rodgers accounting for 410.7 of those yards, with 12 TDs. The pass has allowed the Reddies to average a scoring drive time of just 1:48 this season.
Henderson State’s defense is strong, as well, ranking No. 20 in the nation for total defensive yards allowed (289.3).

East Central is led by QB Spencer Bond, who has a 99.5 passing efficiency, 532 passing yards, three touchdowns and 682 yards of total offense this season. Fred Gaines has paced the defense with 17 tackles, five passes defended, four pass breakups and one interception.

Penalties have been a key point for East Central (1-2, 1-2 GAC) so far this season, with both losses coming when they recorded more penalties than their opponents. This was evident in the loss to Ouachita Baptist when the Tigers committed 13 penalties for 124 yards. As a team, East Central is averaging 100.7 yards in penalties per game in 2013.

No. 9 Grand Valley State at Ohio Dominican, Noon ET Saturday

A battle of two of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s unbeatens will take place as Ohio Dominican welcomes Grand Valley State to a Homecoming showdown. Grand Valley State will be playing its first road contest of the season after opening with three convincing home victories.

The Panthers enter with an eight-game win streak dating to last season and are 3-0 in 2013, 2-0 in GLIAC play. Grand Valley State comes into play with a 1-0 mark in the GLIAC.

The eight-game win streak is the second-longest in the country behind last year's national champion Valdosta State, which has won 12 in a row.

Ohio Dominican has averaged 291.5 rushing yards per game the last two weeks and goes up against a Grand Valley defense that has limited opponents to just 131.7 yards per game on the ground. Last year, the Panthers ran for 395 yards against the Lakers, the second-best total in school history.

The Lakers are averaging 37.0 points per game on offense with a balanced passing and rushing attack. Grand Valley State is throwing for 260.7 yards per game. The Lakers are running for 234.0 yards per game, with Michael Ratay averaging 9.1 yards per carry and 115.3 yards per game to lead the offense. Ohio Dominican's defense hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in the past seven games.

In just 11 collegiate games, Brandon Schoen has rushed for 1,333 yards, which ranks fourth on Ohio Dominican’s all-time list. He’s averaging 121.2 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry in his career. He has scored at least one touchdown in all 11 of his career games, as well, including a school-record long run of 85 yards for a TD last week at Northern Michigan.

Catawba at No. 10 Carson-Newman, 1 p.m. ET Saturday

Carson-Newman (3-0) will try to continue its best start since 2007 against Catawba (2-1).

The Eagles own a 20-2 series lead against the Indians at home and are ahead in the series 36-9-1. Carson-Newman has won the past five meetings by an average score of 41-16. The Eagles have scored at least 41 in every meeting since 2009.

Two major areas of emphasis for the Eagles of late have been penalties and fumbles. The Eagles rank in the bottom 10 of 162 Division II football teams for fumbles lost with seven on the year. Carson-Newman is in the bottom 20 for penalties per game with a little more than nine whistled on the Eagles per contest.

Catawba has shown the hallmarks of a disciplined football team. The Indians are one of nine teams in the nation to have lost just one turnover on the season. Part of that comes from senior quarterback and Wisconsin transfer Danny O'Bryan, who has yet to throw an interception through three games. He has thrown for 523 yards and four touchdowns.

Carson-Newman's first string defense held Brevard to 178 yards of total offense in its 41-14 victory last week.

Carson-Newman is led by running back Tyron Douglas, who is averaging two scores a game. He ranks third in the South Atlantic Conference with 105 yards per game.

Carson-Newman has seven plays this year that have gone for 34 yards or longer. The Eagles have scored on all seven of them. What may be even more astounding is that of Carson-Newman’s big plays (defined as 20 yards or longer), the Eagles have had seven come through the air and seven come on the ground.

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