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Wayne Cavadi | | October 23, 2017

The Top 25 shuffle continues, as five more upsets lead to more change in the DII football rankings

  Lawrence Pittman is running Wingate right up the rankings.

The Top 10 in Division II football dominated this past weekend. That doesn't mean The Top 25 Shuffle came to a stop. Four upsets in the lower half of the rankings led to another new look in the latest poll. 


As much as things seem to change on a weekly basis in the polls, one thing seems to always remain the same: no one can beat those Bearcats.

Here are five takeaways from the latest AFCA poll.

Win-streak meter: 38

Unless you live in Maryville, Missouri, you're likely tired of hearing about it. But Northwest Missouri State's run is simply extraordinary. 

The Bearcats moved to 8-0 this past weekend, posting their fourth shutout of the season. They won 19-0 over Lindenwood, holding the Lions to five net yards rushing. That's 17 more net yards than Northeastern put up on the Bearcats last week, and no, that's not a typo. 

This defense has been nothing short of sensational. It has alllowed 314 rushing yards all season, at a pace of 1.45 yards per rush. If you score a touchdown against this team, consider yourself one of the lucky ones, as they pace DII at 7.3 points allowed per game. Overall, the Bearcats allow 201.4 yards a game. To put that into perspective, two running backs in the Top 25 -- Virginia State's Trenton Cannon and Humboldt State's Ja'Quan Gardner -- both ran for more yards than that this weekend.

That November 4 showdown with No. 7 Fort Hays State is sure looking like it's going to be a fun one.

Trojans, Bulldogs and Jacks climbing

For the second time in as many weeks, the No. 16 Wingate Bulldogs jumped four spots, tying them for the biggest riser of the week. This past weekend they handled Mars Hill in convincing fashion, doubling up the Lions 42-21. Lawrence Pittman continues to be a tough one to handle out of the backfield, posting his fourth-straight game with more than 125 yards and at least one touchdown. In fact, he's scored in all seven games this season. His ability to grind the clock will make Wingate that much tougher in the coming weeks.

Also jumping four spots this week were the No. 17 Virginia State Trojans. Another week passes and another unwordly offensive output by the Trojans dynamic duo fills the stat sheets. Quarterback Cordelral Cook threw for only 152 yards, but added 102 and three touchdowns on the ground. For Cannon, it was the second time in as many weeks he eclipsed the 200-yard mark. With a signature win already over No. 20 Bowie State two weekends ago, the Trojans are proving that they are the real deal down the home stretch.

Speaking of insane rushing numbers, meet Ja'Quan Gardner. Gardner has the Humboldt State Jacks also jumping four spots this week to No. 18. All Gardner has done the past two weekends is run for 508 yards and eight touchdowns. For those not good at math, that is a lot. 

Warriors fighting strong

Winona State is in the Top 10. The Warriors are a perfect 8-0, coming in right at No. 10 this week. Just how good has the Warriors season been?

They have the seventh-best scoring defense in DII football. Only once has a team scored 20 points on them this season and that was way back in a Week 1 upset of then-No. 25 Bemidji State, 30-20. Since then, the Warriors closest game has been decided by 18 points. 

The Warriors already have two upsets on their resume, the aforementioned Week 1 win and a victory over Sioux Falls a few weeks ago. That means No. 3 Minnesota State can't take them lightly this weekend in what is sure to be the game of the week. The winner has a clear path to the South Division Championship.

Oilers spring into the mix

Findlay is making its Top 25 debut this week, marking the first Great Midwest Athletic Conference representative to the Top 25 this season. Daouda Sylla may be the best running back in DII football no one has heard of. The back posted yet another strong week, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns in Findlay's decisive 68-14 victory. It was the third straight game Sylla had with multiple touchdowns. His 1,076 yards are seventh best in DII, while his 14 touchdowns are tied for third. Findlay could find its way into the postseason with DII football's sixth-best rushing attack, averaging 287.5 yards a game.

This week also welcomes back two Top 25 regulars. Central Missouri re-enters the mix, back on track after an early season upset at the hands of now-No. 7 Fort Hays State bumped them from the rankings. No. 24 Colorado State-Pueblo spent one week out of the Top 25, falling to an unranked Fort Lewis two weeks ago. The ThunderWolves fired back with a 49-0 shutout of Black Hills State this past weekend.

Watch out for The Ship

Most of the teams receiving votes have tasted the Top 25 this season. Then there is Shippensburg.

The Raiders are flying -- or perhaps sailing -- under the radar, receiving 17 votes in this week's poll. They find themselves in a four-way battle atop the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference's East Division. This weekend they head to Kutztown, one of the three teams they are tied with atop the standings.

Shippensburg is a team that has the third-best total defense in DII football, allowing just 259.8 yards per game, all while allowing a mere 12.1 points per game, fifth-best. The offense is no slouch, either. Its 479.8 yards per game is 15th in the division.

While the West Division received most of the attention early on, a statement victory for the Raiders this weekend may shift that. They will need to likely win out, but Shippensburg is quietly put themselves on the postseason radar.

Weekly fun with numbers:

173-17 - Combined record of the Top 25. 

- Number of teams that are a perfect 8-0. 

12 - Ranked teams that remain undefeated through Week 8.

MORE: Breaking down the Top 25 by the numbers

- No. 9 Texas A&M-Commerce is the lone Top 10 team with a loss.

22-2 - Win-loss record of the new Top 25 this past weekend (No. 21 Eastern New Mexico was idle). Then-No. 12 Ferris State handed then-No. 7 Grand Valley State a one-point loss in dramatic fashion, dropping the Lakers 12 spots to No. 7. No. 25 West Alabama dropped seven spots after its first Gulf South Conference loss of the season. Slippery Rock, Delta State and Southeastern Oklahoma State couldn't survive the wrath of their upsets, dropping out of the Top 25.

- Number of teams that remained the same this week. No. 1 Northwest Missouri State earned all 34 first place votes to once again stay atop the poll. No. 2 Shepherd, No. 5 Midwestern State and No. 6 Indianapolis also all held strong.

77-1 - Combined record of the new Top 10.

1 - There is only one Top 25 matchup this coming weekend, and it is now of Top 10 proportions. No. 10 Winona State heads to No. 3 Minnesota State in a game with tremendous Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference implications. 

RELATED: Edinboro upsets No. 17 Slippery Rock behind Fletcher's 241-yard, four-touchdown day

Conference breakdown

This week, we welcome the GMAC to the mix with No. 22 Findlay's addition to the Top 25. Two conferences that had populated the Top 25 pretty heavily the past few weeks took big hits. Both the GSC and PSAC are down to one team. Three conferences -- the NSIC, the Lone Star Conference and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association -- dominate the Top 10 with two teams a piece. There still has not been one conference to run away with dominance in the poll, showing how distributed the top teams are across the country. 

Conference Teams in Top 25
NSIC 3 (Sioux Falls, Minnesota State, Winona State)
LSC 3 (Midwestern State, Texas A&M-Commerce, Eastern New Mexico State)
GLIAC 3 (Grand Valley State, Ferris State, Ashland)
MIAA 3 (NWMSU, Fort Hays State, Central Missouri)
GNAC  2 (Central Washington, Humboldt State)
CIAA 2 (Virginia State, Bowie State)
RMAC 2 (Colorado Mesa, Colorado State-Pueblo)
NE-10 1 (Assumption)
GLVC  1 (UIndy)
MEC 1 (Shepherd)
SAC 1 (Wingate)
PSAC 1 (Indiana (Pa))
GMAC 1 (Findlay)
GSC 1 (West Alabama)

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