DII football: 5 takeaways from the Week 2 AFCA poll
Another wild week in DII football has come and gone. Five teams dropped out of the Top 25, which means we welcome five new teams into the mix.
RELATED: AFCA Poll
Despite a shakeup in the lower half of the poll, the Top 5 remained the same heading into Week 3’s action. Here’s five takeaways from the Week 2 AFCA Poll.
32 and counting …
Getting to 2-0 wasn’t so easy for Northwest Missouri State last week. Washburn put up a hard fought battle in the second half, but the Bearcats were able to hold them off 20-14.
The win moves Northwest Missouri State to 2-0, maintaining its hold on the No. 1 spot in DII football. It was also the 32nd consecutive win for the Bearcats, which means they are closing in on the DII record.
That record was set between the 2005 and 2007 seasons by Grand Valley State. The Lakers reeled off 40 wins in a row before Northwest Missouri State snapped their streak. That puts the potential record-setting game as the final game of the regular season, on the road at Missouri Western State.
It’s no easy task to run the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association schedule, but if the Bearcats can do it a third time in a row, they will make history.
Welcome to the party
Five new teams entered the poll, with Arkansas Tech making the biggest leap. The Wonder Boys debut at No. 19 after defeating two ranked opponents during their 2-0 start. Their first victims were Great American Conference favorites Southern Arkansas, before handing Henderson State — fresh off a Week 1 upset special of its own — a dominating 26-3 loss. Next up for Arkansas Tech is Oklahoma Baptist.
Fort Hays, Central Washington, Delta State and Slippery Rock also enter the Top 25 this week. Slippery Rock continues to impress with its high-octane offense and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Marcus Martin piling up sack after sack. Fort Hays made a big statement in the MIAA, moving to 2-0 with a commanding 35-6 victory over then-No. 13 Central Missouri. Fort Hays certainly has November 4 circled on the calendar. That’s when they head to Maryville, Missouri to take on Northwest Missouri State in what could be its record-tying 40th straight win.
Bounce back performances
Texas A&M-Commerce had a big win in Week 1, defeating 2016 national runner-up North Alabama, 8-7. The Lions jumped to No. 3, where they remain this week. Their All-American quarterback Luis Perez, however, had a rough opening week, one of the worst of his standout career. Perez bounced back this week with a four touchdown performance — without an interception — in the Lions' 59-6 victory.
Emporia State suffered a disappointing Week 1 loss, falling 34-0 to No. 1 Northwest Missouri State. The loss dropped the Hornets to No. 15 after a preseason ranking of No. 4, the program's highest ranking in its history. This week, quarterback Braxton Marstall rebounded with a dominating 435-yard performance, tossing four touchdowns in Emporia State's 45-13 victory over University of Nebraska-Kearney. The win pushed them back up one spot this week.
Poor Davenport. It felt the wrath of Grand Valley State this week, who bounced back in a big way after losing to unranked Indianapolis in Week 1. The Lakers rose victorious behind a 48-0 performance. Marty Carter, the leading rusher in DII football last season, got back on track, running for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Aside from the five new teams in the poll, several teams had big jumps in the poll as well.
Minnesota State cracked the Top 10, moving up four spots to No. 8. This weekend, in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference battle, Minnesota State squares off against No. 21 Minnesota-Duluth.
West Georgia was this week's biggest jumper thanks to a bevy of upsets, moving eight spots to No. 17. They prepare for a Top 25 showdown against No. 24 Delta State. Not far behind, Colorado Mesa rose six spots to No. 11. The Mavericks posted another big week, defeating Chadron State 24-10. This week is a big test as CMU faces off against Colorado School of Mines. After dropping from No. 12 to unranked in a Week 1 loss to Colorado State-Pueblo, the Orediggers responded with a 70-0 victory in Week 2. There is no question that Mines will be looking to jump back into the Top 25 with a statement victory over Colorado Mesa.
Last week, Indianapolis and Albany State cracked the Top 25 behind impressive upsets. This week they kept rolling, both continuing to rise in the polls.
UIndy, after Week 1's upset of No. 2 Grand Valley State, won in dramatic fashion. Brad Shickel kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired, downing Wayne State 31-28. Freshman Al McKeller, who erupted for 206 yards in his debut last week, was held in check but was still able to find the end zone. They have to be considered real players in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, a perfect 2-0 and No. 15 in DII football.
Albany State has played two ranked teams this seson. Both times they have rose victorious and are now the 16th-ranked team in DII. This week's victim was Tuskegee, as the two teams faced off in the only matchup of Top 25 teams this past weekend. The Golden Rams won 20-7 and face a North Greenville team that they should beat this week.
The Top 25 has been evenly distributed since the preaseason. The Gulf South Conference (Delta State) and Great Northwest Athletic Conference (Central Washington) both added a team to the rankings this week, while the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference lost a team (Tuskegee). The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association dropped out of the mix, as then No. 22 Winston-Salem State was upset by Bowie State in this weekend's DII showcase. Four teams are tied with three teams in the rankings, with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference dominating the Top 10.
|Conference||Teams in Top 25|
|PSAC||3 (California (PA), Indiana (PA), Slippery Rock)|
|MIAA||3 (NWMSU, ESU, FHSU)|
|NSIC||3 (Sioux Falls, Minnesota State, Minnesota Duluth)|
|GSC||3 (North Alabama, West Georgia, Delta State)|
|GLIAC||2 (Ferris State, Grand Valley State)|
|LSC||2 (Texas A&M-Commerce, Midwestern State)|
|RMAC||2 (Colorado Mesa, Colorado State-Pueblo)|
|GNAC||2 (Azusa Pacific, Central Washington)|
|SIAC||1 (Albany State)|
|GAC||1 (Arkansas Tech)|
|NE-10||1 (LIU Post)|