The top 25 in DII football had a strong showing in Week 2. They put together an overall 24-1 record, seeing one new team enter the AFCA poll. While there wasn't a lot of change in the rankings this week, there was still plenty we learned.
Let's break down the latest DII football top 25 and see what's in store for Week 3. First, here is how the rankings panned out after Week 2.
|1||Valdosta State (31)||2-0||799||1|
|2||Ferris State (1)||2-0||768||2|
|5||Notre Dame (OH)||2-0||649||4|
|7||Northwest Missouri State||2-0||614||7|
|10||Grand Valley State||2-0||505||10|
|17||Colorado School of Mines||2-0||293||17|
What we learned about the top 5 in DII football
The top 5 are not showing much rust from the eight-month layoff of the offseason. All five rolled into the DII football tournament undefeated last season and are showing early on that they are capable of doing the same once more.
Valdosta State extended its DII-best 17-game winning streak, defeating Ohio Dominican 48-21. The Blazers have now blown past two very good football teams — Albany State in Week 1 and the Panthers in Week 2, both of which received votes in the poll — by a combined score of 86-24. Next up is a top 25 showdown against No. 20 West Alabama in the Blazers Gulf South Conference opener, yet another big test for the reigning champs early in 2019.
Jayru Campbell — the 2018 Harlon Hill Trophy winner — returned from injury for Ferris State and after briefly shaking off the cobwebs, he looked sharp. The Bulldogs rolled to a 62-28 victory at Central Washington with Campbell totaling 319 yards and three touchdowns. Ferris State opens GLIAC play this coming Saturday against an Ashland team that began the season in the top 25 and is looking to get the program's 500th all-time victory.
Minnesota State extended its Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference winning streak to 26 games defeating Augustana (SD) 27-7. Nate Gunn is running wild as usual and will need to continue to do so against a very under-the-radar Concordia-St. Paul team in Week 3. Speaking of running wild, there seems to be no slowing down Jaleel McLaughlin, who reeled off 258 yards in Notre Dame (OH)'s victory over West Liberty and now leads DII with 424 yards after just two weeks. Notre Dame (OH) has a big one in Week 3 in "The Falcon Bowl" welcoming Fairmont State this weekend, which has been one of the toughest teams on the road.
No. 4 Tarleton State continued its climb to the top, flip-flopping with Notre Dame for the only change in the top 10 this week. All the Texans have done is reel off 1,282 yards in their first two weeks of 2019 (that's 641 yards per week, ladies and gentlemen) including 673 in taking down FCS program Stephen F. Austin in Week 1. But now the fun begins, as Tarleton hosts undefeated West Texas A&M in it's Lone Star Conference opener, putting the Texans nine-game home winning streak on the line.
Welcome Bowie State to the top 25
There were supposed to be some bumps and bruises in the early going for the Bulldogs in 2019. Losing Amir Hall — one of DII football's best players the past three seasons — was not going to be easy. Hall — who threw for 11,267 yards and 102 touchdowns and ran for 1,117 yards and 24 touchdowns in his three years while winning the 2017 and 2018 Black College Football Hall of Fame Player of the Year award — left a huge void in the Bulldogs offense.
The Bulldogs are using two quarterbacks to replace Hall and it seems to be working. Ja'rome Johnson led an inspiring comeback in Week 1 after the Bulldogs entered the first half down 13-10 to American International, running for 172 yards and a touchdown. Gaston Cooper was a little more successful through the air in Week 2, throwing for 148 yards in yet another Bowie State come-from-behind victory in Week 2, throwing the game-winning touchdown with just 18 ticks left on the clock.
The Bulldogs next two opponents have yet to find the win column in 2019, so it should be smooth sailing, at least for now. Bowie State — who's been the DII football tournament the past two seasons — is back in familiar territory and will be looking to stay there.
Week 3 tests in the top 25
There are quite a few big matchups this coming week, especially in the top 5. While No. 1 Valdosta State vs. No. 20 West Alabama is one to watch, keep your eyes on Pueblo, Colorado.
The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference has two teams in the top 25 and they face each other this coming weekend. No. 17 Colorado School of Mines heads to No. 9 CSU-Pueblo in a showdown with plenty at stake. This one features the RMAC's best scoring offense and defense (the Orediggers) against the RMAC's second-best scoring offense and defense (the Thunderwolves). Mines football took the game last year, so you can expect CSU-Pueblo to be looking to settle the score, especially with its 15-game home winning streak on the line.
No. 18 Wingate will have its hands full with Carson-Newman. The Eagles were impressive in taking down West Florida in its season opener last week and will look to make a statement in its South Atlantic Conference opener against a Wingate team that has become DII football tournament regulars of late.
No. 23 Harding will have a big challenge this weekend against Southern Arkansas. The Muleriders are off to a 2-0 start and are riding a DII-best 17-game home winning streak. The last time the Muleriders lost at home was in 2015 to none other than Harding. A loss could bump Harding from the top 25 and propel Southern Arkansas to the top of a very tricky Great American Conference.
How the conferences fare in the latest poll
With Fort Hays State getting bumped from the top 25, we have quite the bit of parity once again in DII football. The Gulf South, Lone Star, and Pennsylvania State Athletic Conferences, as well as the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, all see three teams perched atop the DII football world.
The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference continues to dominate the top 10. It didn't appear that would be the case, as No. 10 Grand Valley State trailed 24-14 halfway through the fourth quarter after losing starting quarterback Cole Kotopka to injury. Cade Peterson took over led the Lakers back, keeping them in the top 10 with Ferris State for now.
Here's how the top 25 breaks down by conference.
|CONFERENCE||NO. OF SCHOOLS||SCHOOLS|
|GSC||3||Valdosta State, West Georgia, West Alabama|
|LSC||3||Tarleton State, Texas A&M-Commerce, Midwestern State|
|MIAA||3||Northwest Missouri State, Central Missouri, Pittsburgh State|
|PSAC||3||Slippery Rock, West Chester, IUP|
|GAC||2||Ouachita Baptist, Harding|
|GLIAC||2||Ferris State, Grand Valley State|
|NSIC||2||Minnesota State, Minnesota Duluth|
|RMAC||2||CSU-Pueblo, Colorado School of Mines|
|MEC||1||Notre Dame (OH)|