October is coming to a close and that means eight weeks of the DII football season are in the books. The first regional rankings were released and with three weeks left before Selection Sunday, quite a few teams will be looking to make an impression by either ruining someone's postseason hopes or making a statement of their own.
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Let's take a look at just a few of the teams that have been playing well and have the chance to play spoiler down the stretch. Keep in mind, there were two stipulations: these teams weren't in the top 25 or the initial top seven (28 overall) of the regional rankings.
Fort Hays State | Record: 6-2 | No. 9 in Super Region Three
The Tigers dropped their first two games of the season, and in doing so, fell from the top 25. They haven't lost since, winners of their last six in a row. Fort Hays State has scored 35 or more points in five of those six wins with a thrilling 42-41 victory over then-No. 19 Pittsburg State on the resume.
Now the Tigers have a real chance to play themselves into the field. Of their three teams left to face, two have a combined one win and the other is Northwest Missouri State (7-1). The Tigers have won that Bearcats' matchup in each of the past two seasons. If they complete the trifecta, there will be some big questions in Super Region Three.
Southern Arkansas | 7-1 | Not ranked
The Muleriders have a nice 7-1 record but didn't see their name in the first regional rankings. That is likely due to the fact that, of their seven wins, six are against teams that currently have losing records. Now, they have the third toughest schedule remaining in DII football.
That's not to diminish Southern Arkansas' season by any means. The Muleriders have won five in a row with a top-four offense and defense in the Great American Conference. They have their fate sitting right in front of them. The next three weeks are against Ouachita Baptist, Henderson State and Arkansas-Monticello. All three have winning records, and two — the Tigers and Reddies — are in the Super Three rankings.
Shepherd | 6-2 | No. 8 in Super Region One
The Rams have two losses this season. One came on opening day by three points to Ohio Dominican and the other was a seven-point loss to Kutztown. Two losses by ten total points to teams ranked in their Super Region — that's not too shabby. Since the loss to the Golden Bears, Shepherd has won four in a row, averaging 40.8 points per win. Amongst those four wins was a double-digit victory over nationally and regionally-ranked West Chester.
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Now, the Rams don't have any teams left on the schedule that will help their strength of schedule, with all three of their final opponents 2-3 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. But getting to 9-2 and having that signature win over West Chester could help if Urbana or someone above the Rams stumble.
California (Pa) | 6-2 | Not ranked
The Vulcans have the 13th toughest schedule remaining: Their remaining opponents have a 17-6 record. One of those foes is a Slippery Rock team trying to earn the No. 1 seed. Cal can certainly play the role of spoiler.
The Vulcans have two losses and both have come to the ranked teams in their region. But the resume is impressive: They lost to No. 1 Kutztown by just a touchdown, and they are the only team to hold Indiana (Pa)'s offense under 24-points this entire season — 17 to be precise. Cal has won three in a row, averaging 38.7 points over that span and could be in line for a few more big wins if teams sleep on them.
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Winona State | 6-2 | No. 9 in Super Region Four
The Warriors have a solid resume this season, but it needs some improvement to jump in that stacked Super Region Four. They have two losses, both of which have come to teams ranked ahead of them. That said, Winona State did hold Minnesota State to its lowest scoring output this whole season. You know, the same Minnesota State team that's averaging 77.5 points per game the past two weeks?
While Sioux Falls can make a statement and improve its stock by doing what no team has done in the last 32 tries — beat Minnesota State in the NSIC — the Warriors have two teams with winning records left on the schedule. The Nov. 9 matchup with No. 7 Augusta (SD) could change the tide in Super Region Four. The Warriors have won four in a row and will need three more to even have a chance at the postseason.
Other teams to watch:
Fort Valley State (6-2): Albany State got the No. 10-ranking in Super Region Two and that bodes well for the Wildcats. Fort Valley State has Savannah State and Albany State — two winning teams — left on the schedule before the SIAC championship game. If they win out, including the championship game, people will have to take notice.
Mars Hill (5-3): Ok, Mars Hill has no real opportunity for the NCAA DII tournament, but the Lions can be the ultimate South Atlantic Conference spoiler with both Carson-Newman and Wingate left on the schedule. Quarterback Jimmy Urzua and wide receiver Craig Rucker are more than enough to put a scare into any contender.
Missouri Western (6-2): The Griffons are 1-2 in-region, but there are a lot of big games left that could shake things up. Missouri Western is sitting tight at No. 8, but with two winning teams remaining on the slate, the Griffons can continue to make some noise.
West Georgia (5-3): While the Wolves season hasn't gone as planned, they still can play spoiler down the stretch. They have both Mississippi College and Valdosta State on the schedule, two teams ranked in their region.
Midwestern State (4-4): The Mustangs are another team that started the season in the top 25, but things just didn't play out in their favor. That said, they have their final matchup against rival Tarleton State as a DII program and regionally-ranked West Texas A&M left on the schedule. They certainly have a chance to play spoiler in 2019 should anyone look past them.