Two nationally ranked teams. One team that has received more votes than any other non-Top 25 team in Division II football.
This week should be fun, as the DII showcase features a major Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference battle and a surging Catawba team that jumped from the unranked into the Top 25.
Ferris State (2-0) at Ashland (2-1), 7 p.m. ET
This game is arguably the DII Game of the Week. Not only is this a huge GLIAC matchup with possible postseason implications, there is a bit of a rivalry brewing between these two teams. The last time the Bulldogs and Eagles faced off, the Eagles overcame a 31-14 defecit to snap Ferris State's 28-game regular season win streak.
This is a game featuring two of DII football's premier quarterbacks. Ferris State's Reggie Bell can hurt opposing defenses in multiple ways, rushing for 254 yards and four touchdowns in his first game and throwing for 216 yards and four touchdowns in his second game. He has led the Bulldogs to DII football's best offense this season. Under center on the other side is Travis Tarnowski, who became Ashland's all-time leading passer ast week. He already owned the mark for most touchdowns, adding to his lore by throwing 10 more already this season.
The X-factor in this one may wind up being Ferris State's junior defensive end Zach Seiler. If the preseason All-American can wreak havoc in Ashland's backfield, it may give Bell and the Bulldogs enough time to build a big enough lead that even Tarnowski won't be able to come back from this time.
|2016 record: 12-3||2016 record: 9-2|
|Head coach: Tony Annese (6th season)||Head coach: Lee Owens (14th season)|
|Preseason ranking: 3 | Current ranking: 2||Preseason ranking: RV | Current ranking: RV|
Reggie Bell, QB: 700 toal, 8 TDs
Malik Taylor, WR: 189 yards, 1 TD
Zach Seiler, DL: 7 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL
Travis Tarnowski, QB: 919 yards, 10 TDs, 0 Int
Andrew Vaugh, RB: 253 yards, 3 TDs
Matthew Wilcox, WR: 386 yards, 3 TD
2017 by the numbers:
|Points: 45/ game||Points: 37.3/ game|
|Pass yards: 279/ game||Pass yards: 325/ game|
|Rush yards: 366/ game||Rush yards: 141/ game|
|Total offense: 645 yards/ game||Total offense: 466 yards/ game|
|Points allowed: 18.5/ game||Points allowed: 20.3/ game|
|Total defense: 290.5 yards/ game||Total defense: 380.7 yards/ game|
Mars Hill (2-1) at Catawba (3-0), 6 p.m. ET
This South Atlantic Conference showdown is a tale of two different seasons. Both teams finished below .500 in 2016, but both are off to hot starts in 2017.
Don't be fooled by Mars Hills lopsided numbers. The Lions took on Division I foe North Carolina A&T in a Week 2 56-0 loss. Mars Hill bounced back in its SAC opener last week, taking down Lenoir-Rhyne 43-28. The Lions handled Shorter 40-14 in Week 1. When you look at the Lions against DII competition, this is a team that can drop 40 points with relative ease.
The Lions' Keshaun Taylor is a play maker and needs to be kept under close watch if the Indians want to win on Saturday. Taylor is coming off a week in which he threw for a 44-yard touchdown, ran for a 48-yard touchdown, and was on the receiving end of a 70-yard touchdown. Paired with Craig Rucker, Mars Hill has some serious threats in the wide receiver department.
SAC Football Player of the Week Highlights | Week 3https://t.co/F1mWumMpC3— South Atlantic Conf. (@SAC_Athletics) September 18, 2017
That's the tricky part for Mars Hill as defense is Catawba's strong point. The Indians currently are a top-10 defense in both yardage (No. 8) and scoring (No. 5). Kyle Kitchens has been an absolute beast thus far at linebacker, but it will be Cris Page who will perhaps have to shine brightest. The sophomore defensive back already has already has one two-interception game on the season, and his presence on the outside will be much needed.
|2016 record: 5-6||2016 record: 5-6|
|Head coach: Tim Clifton (25th season)||Head coach: Catawba (5th season)|
|Preseason ranking: NR | Current ranking: NR||Preseason ranking: NR | Current ranking: 25|
Keshaun Taylor, WR/KR: 306 yards, 2 TDs
Craig Rucker, WR: 281 yards, 3 TD
Tray Smith, LB: 14 tackles, 2 FF, 1 BU
Eamon Smart, RB: 301 rushing, 2 TDs
Kyle Kitchens, LB: 14 tackles, 4 sacks, 6 TFL
Cris Page, DB: 10 tackles, 2 Int, 5 BU, 7 PD
2017 by the numbers:
|Points: 27.7/ game||Points: 39/ game|
|Pass yards: 100/ game||Pass yards: 261.3/ game|
|Rush yards: 300.3/ game||Rush yards: 157.3/ game|
|Total offense: 400.3 yards/ game||Total offense: 418 yards/ game|
|Points allowed: 32.7/ game||Points allowed: 9.7/ game|
|Total defense: 432.3 yards/ game||Total defense: 253.3 yards/ game|