The NCAA Division II Football Championship field is set. Twenty-eight teams learned their season will continue for at least one more week on Sunday.
Let's take a quick look around the four Super Regions as we head into the DII football postseason.
Super Region One
Notre Dame (OH) earned the No. 1 seed, and it was well deserved. The Falcons made a statement on opening day, upsetting preseason No. 16 and Mountain East Conference favorite Shepherd and never relented. Freshman running back Jaleel McLaughlin ran for 302 yards in that game and neither he nor Notre Dame (OH) proved they were no fluke. The Falcons became the first team in program history to go undefeated and win the MEC, the lone MEC team to make the postseason.
Team 126 celebrates their qualification for the NCAA Division II playoffs pic.twitter.com/QAuDETWFf1— Hillsdale College Chargers (@HCChargers) November 11, 2018
Three teams from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference move onto the postseason, the most from any conference in this region. Kutztown returns to the postseason for the first time since 2011 and is joined by the PSAC champion West Chester and PSAC West champs, Slippery Rock. It was the Golden Rams' first PSAC title since 1971 and they are heading to the postseason as the No. 3 seed.
Two Chargers, New Haven and Hillsdale, hit the road in the first round of Super Region One. New Haven lost the Northeast-10 to LIU Post in a thriller this past Saturday, which allowed the Pioneers to remain undefeated and earn the No. 2 seed. This bracket is pretty wide open for the taking. The seven teams have a combined six losses, which should make it competitive to the very end.
Super Region Two
The Gulf South Conference once again dominates this part of the bracket. The GSC sends four teams to the championship, just like it did in 2017. Valdosta State, fresh off its 47-31 victory over West Georgia in a battle of undefeated teams, earns the No. 1 seed. The Blazers are no stranger to the postseason, winning three national championships since 2004.
We Ready 😎 Valdosta State gets the No. 1 Seed in the Super Region 2 to start the playoffs with a bye week 🔥 pic.twitter.com/O5YtR1sXtg— VSU Athletics (@BlazerAthletics) November 11, 2018
It shouldn’t be too surprising that West Georgia and West Alabama are headed to the postseason as both were in the 2017 bracket. Florida Tech, however, returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, and despite losing to the other three GSC teams in this super region, the Panthers finished strong, setting a program record with 55 points against Shorter in the finale.
Bowie State is the lone representative from the CIAA but are very much a threat if the Bulldogs can get past West Alabama. Amir Hall has been one of the best quarterbacks in DII football the past two seasons and with a strong supporting cast, anything can happen. The SAC sends two teams to this part of the bracket in Wingate and Lenoir-Rhyne. The Bears lost their opener and rolled the rest of the way, closing the season on a ten-game winning streak. They dropped 63 points in their season finale marking the fifth time their offense put up 50 or points this season, so they will be a force in Super Region Two.
West Florida was the surprise of the postseason last year. It’s not out of the question Super Region Two has another one in store.
Super Region Three
Ouachita Baptist finished the regular season as one of nine undefeated teams in DII football. They are now one of four No. 1 seeds, earning the first-round bye in Super Region Three. While the Tigers can put up points, it's keeping them off the board in which they excelled. Ouachita Baptist had the top scoring defense in DII football (9.6 points per game) and, well, you know the old saying about winning championships.
Northwest earns 15th straight playoff bid, 23rd overall bid. The Bearcats will travel to Grand Valley State in the opening round of the Division II playoffs on Saturday. #OwnIt #OABAAB https://t.co/eW814XbsTK— Northwest Athletics (@bearcatsports) November 11, 2018
There are some thrilling matchups to watch in this region. Northwest Missouri State and Grand Valley State, two of the winningest programs in DII Football Championship history, have a date in the first round. Jayru Campbell and the exciting Ferris State offense has a matchup with Harding’s No. 2 scoring defense and top-ranked rushing offense. Indianapolis and Fort Hays State both had surprise seasons last year but proved it was just the start of something special, as they both return in round one. Go ahead and grab that popcorn, there’s plenty to entertain in Super Region Three.
Super Region Four
Three undefeated top 10 schools lurk in this region. That says about all you need to know about how tough it will be to escape.
Minnesota State earned the top seed after its second consecutive undefeated run through the NSIC. They will await the winner of an all-RMAC showdown pitting the high-flying offense of Colorado School of Mines against Colorado State-Pueblo. These two foes are very familiar with each other as this is a rematch of the Orediggers' 35-21 victory back on Sept. 15. You can be sure the ThunderWolves will be ready for this matchup.
Minnesota Duluth and Tarleton State are the other two schools who enter the postseason perfect. The Texans have been impressive in all facets of the game, winning a Lone Star Conference with two top 25 foes in Texas A&M-Commerce and MSU Texas. They face Azusa Pacific in the first round who earned its way into the postseason with a final weekend upset of No. 18 Central Washington. The Bulldogs? They just have to face the reigning national champs in the first round. No big deal.