DII football rankings: Preseason favorites fall as Ashland enters the Top 10 in Week 10's poll reactions
The Top 25 landscape in DII football is starting to finally settle. After weeks of the Top 25 Shuffle, Week 10 saw a bit more stability with only one new team entering the mix.
RELATED: Week 10 AFCA DII football poll
That being said, the DII playoff picture is still very murky. There are plenty of conferences yet to be decided with just one weekend left in the regular season. Here are a few takeaways from this week's poll.
The preseason favorites stumble
It's not often that Northwest Missouri State and Grand Valley State aren't in the Top 25 at the same time. The Bearcats and Lakers were the preseason No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. Now, neither are in the Top 10.
Northwest Missouri State fell ten spots this week after dropping their second consecutive game in the same season for the first time since 2001. It was a hard fought battle that both teams deserved to win, but in the end, the new No. 5 Fort Hays State rose victorious 13-12.
Grand Valley State dropped from No. 19 out of the Top 25 entirely after a heartbreaking loss to new No. 10 Ashland. The Lakers mounted a late-game comeback, but fell short when Ashland's Aidan Simenc hit the game-winning field goal as time expired.
The Lakers three losses have come to Top 25 opponents-- Indianapolis, Ferris State and Ashland -- and are certain postseason foes. Grand Valley State still has plenty of chance at the playoffs, it will be interesting to see how they respond.
Welcome to the Top 10
Ashland finally cracked the Top 10 this week. The Eagles have built quite the resumé this year, and a win next week may seem them soar higher.
The Eagles lost the opening game of the season. That loss was at the hands of now-No. 3 Indiana (Pa.) on the road by a last-second field goal. Ashland has handled every challenge thrown its way this season, and are in the driver's seat to win the outright title of a tightly-contested Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Along with this past weekend's nail-biter against GVSU, they Eagles handled No. 11 Ferris State earlier this season, 20-3.
Ashland has the No. 2 offense and defense in the GLIAC. Travis Tarnowski is the experienced leader behind center and running back Andrew Vaughn has gotten hot at the right time. He has run for 493 yards and seven touchdowns over the past three weeks. The Eagles are trending in the right direction at the right time.
The Ship has landed
Two weeks ago, DII football was put on alert. Shippensburg was coming.
The Raiders have finally arrived, joining the Top 25 for the first time all season. At 9-1 they will make a push for the postseason, despite a stacked Super Region 1. Unfortunately, Shippensburg's one loss was at the hands of West Chester, giving it the right to play IUP for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference this coming weekend.
Quarterback Ryan Zapoticky is having a monster season. He's thrown for 2,534 yards, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Winston Eubanks has been a huge target at wide receiver, catching 1,127 yards and 12 of Zapoticky's touchdowns. This team has handled the rough waters of the high-flying offenses of the PSAC and could be a sleeper in a few weeks.
Running backs have put up some record-setting weeks this season. Whether it was IUP's Samir Bullock or Gannon's Marc Jones, we have been entertained by some all-time great DII football performances. Robert Chesson added to that.
Chesson ran amok for 304 yards and seven touchdowns in Bowie State's 77-21 win. He also added a receiving touchdown. Eight touchdowns in one game. That's more than half of the running backs in DII's season total. No. 19 Bowie State has now scored more than 75 points two weeks in a row.
That was the theme this week as the Top 25 dominated its opponents. Eleven teams scored 45 or more points. No. 21 Findlay nearly matched Bowie State's output scoring 70 of its own.
Despite scoring 40 points, No. 15 Virginia State was involved in the closest Top 25 game of the week. The Trojans narrowly defeated Virginia Union 40-39 on Trenton Cannon's game-winning touchdown run with 1:34 left on the clock. It was his 14th touchdown of the season. He and dual-threat quarterback Cordelral Cook -- who has 17 rushing touchdowns of his own -- make this team scary come playoff time.
Weekly fun with numbers:
221-19 - Combined record of the new Top 25.
5 - Number of teams that are a perfect 10-0.
10 - Ranked teams that remain undefeated through Week 10.
2 - No. 8 (tied) Texas A&M-Commerce and No. 10 Ashland are the only Top 10 teams with a loss.
24-1 - Win-loss record of the new Top 25 this past weekend, the best weekly record of the season. Northwest Missouri State was the only team to lose, and the did so at the hands of a Top 25 foe.
6 - Number of teams that remained the same this week. No. 1 through No. 4 (Minnesota State, Shepherd, IUP and Midwestern State) held tight as did No. 7 Central Washington and No. 13 Sioux Falls.
93-2 - Combined record of the new Top 10.
3 - Number of Top 25 matchups this weekend. No. 1 Minnesota State and No. 13 Sioux Falls have a big Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference showdown. No. 4 Midwestern State takes on No. 20 Eastern New Mexico for the Lone Star Conference title. No. 7 Central Washington battles No 16 Humboldt State for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship.
There wasn't major change in the conference breakdown as 24 of last week's Top 25 remained in tact. West Georgia continued its acrobatic Top 25 act, jumping back in for a third time this year. This week's only newcomer bumped Central Missouri out of the rankings.
|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||2 (Ashland, Ferris State)|
|MIAA||2 (NWMSU, Fort Hays State)|
|GNAC||2 (Central Washington, Humboldt State)|
|CIAA||2 (Virginia State, Bowie State)|
|RMAC||2 (Colorado Mesa, Colorado State-Pueblo)|
|GSC||2 (West Alabama, West Georgia)|
|PSAC||2 (IUP, Shippensburg)|