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Wayne Cavadi | | September 4, 2018

DII football rankings: 5 takeaways from the Week 1 top 25

Manning's tackle-breaking TD headlines DII Top Plays

The opening weekend of DII football came with plenty of highlights. The preseason No. 1 Texas A&M-Commerce was taken to two overtimes by Texas A&M-Kingsville, while two top 25 teams lost at the hands of unranked teams.

That sets up a new look top 25. While the top remains the same, the bottom saw some big jumps and fresh faces.


A dominant week for the top 10

The preseason top 10 had a very successful opening weekend, with only one team losing. That team, No. 9 Central Washington, lost at the hands of the No. 7-ranked FCS team Eastern Washington. 

The top 7 essentially remained the same, with Fort Hays State breaking its tie at No. 5 with Northwest Missouri State with a thrilling 20-16 win over then-No. 18 Central Missouri. While all of the top 10 should be on everyone’s radar, No. 8 Grand Valley State may be the real team to watch here. The Lakers struggled through an injury-riddled 2017, finishing 8-3 and just on the outside of the playoffs. Last season started with an upset to unranked Indianapolis, but the Lakers didn’t allow that to happen this past weekend in the rematch. Grand Valley State and Lubbers Stadium were rocking in a dominating performance, and after falling behind quickly on an Al McKellar touchdown, the Lakers reeled off 30 unanswered points, sending a clear message to DII football that they are back in business.

MORE:  Break down the top 25 by the numbers

6 is the magic number

The biggest jump of the week was six spots and that was accomplished by four teams. No. 13 West Georgia tops the list with a commanding 34-3 victory over Catawba. Sioux Falls was led by running back Gabriel Watson’s 200-yard day in its victory, jumping to No. 14. No. 17 Ohio Dominican showed its aerial attack is for real with a pair of 100-yard receivers in its opening win over a very tough California (Pa.) team while No. 19 (tie) and fellow G-MAC foe Findlay showed its ground game is not to be tested, reeling off 384 yards and six touchdowns en route to a 69-point performance.

There were just two upsets in the top 25 this weekend, and seven ranked teams lost, down from 11 last season. That still caused a shakeup at the bottom of the poll.

UIndy fell the furthest this past week, dropping nine spots from No. 13 to No. 22 after losing to Grand Valley State. They will look to get back on track with another out of conference matchup against Wayne State. Shepherd, Assumption, and Carson-Newman all left the top 25 but continue to receive votes. 

Welcome to the party

Three new teams enter the top 25 after Week 1. No. 23 West Chester debuts after a 44-6 victory over Bentley. Minnesota Duluth had one of the more fun moments of opening night, breaking out its version of the turnover chain in its 49-3 victory over Minot St. Colorado Mesa enters at No. 25 with a tight 36-33 victory over the Hardrockers of South Dakota Mines. They will have another big out of conference test on the road against Eastern New Mexico this week.

MORE: Notre Dame (OH) holds on to upset Shepherd

Conference breakdown

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference boasts the most teams in the top 25 now that the Bulldogs have entered the mix. Minnesota Duluth joins No. 3 Minnesota State, No. 14 Sioux Falls and No. 15 Winona State as the four teams in the poll. Three conferences are represented by three teams apiece: The Gulf South Conference (No. 2 West Florida, No. 11 West Alabama, and No. 13 West Georgia), the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (No. 5 Fort Hays State, No. 6 Northwest Missouri State, and No. 21 Central Missouri), and the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (No. 8 Grand Valley State, No. 9 Ferris State, and No. 18 Ashland). The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is one of five conferences with two schools in the mix. With Colorado Mines right outside the top 25, No. 12 Colorado State-Pueblo, No. 25 Colorado Mesa and the Orediggers combined to score 141 points in their three wins. You just got to love those RMAC offenses.

Who’s next?

Quite a few teams that are receiving votes are knocking on the door of the top 25 with big performances last week. Notre Dame (OH) received the second most votes outside the top 25 after its impressive upset of Shepherd. Colorado Mines received 47 votes after scoring 49 points in a game in which barely any of the fourth quarter was played due to lightning. The PSAC has two teams in the top 25 with No. 4 Indiana (Pa.) and No. 23 West Chester ready to mix it up all season long. But this is a deep conference with six teams receiving votes: Shippensburg, Bloomsburg, Edinboro, California (Pa.), Slippery Rock, and Kutztown. Start paying attention now, as one of them is bound to catch fire and make some noise. 

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