The 2021 DII football season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 2 with five teams from our preseason Power 10 rankings taking the field. The action-packed weekend has a loaded Saturday slate with more Power 10 teams in action. Sprinkle in a few games on Friday, Sept. 3, and Tuskegee and Fort Valley State closing it out on Sunday, and we get a full weekend of DII football.
RANKINGS: THE DII FOOTBALL PRESEASON POWER 10
Before the weekend action gets started, Kentucky State and Central State (OH) meet in the first-ever Classic for Columbus on August 28 at 2:30 p.m. ET. That game will technically get the DII football season rolling, with the bulk of the division kicking off the following weekend.
Texas A&M-Commerce, which came in at No. 6 in our rankings, will have its hands full on Thursday’s opening night when the Lions travel to CSU Pueblo, a team that just missed our top 10. Both No. 4 Slippery Rock and sleeper Grand Valley State find themselves in interesting, and tricky, out-of-conference matchups. No. 5 Minnesota State opens against Northern State and is looking to extend its NSIC winning streak to 36 games.
Two exciting MIAA games also top our list of opening night action. No. 7 Northwest Missouri State opens against Fort Hays State and Pittsburg State travels to Central Missouri, two teams that are poised to make a lot of noise in 2021 with an abundance of returning talent.
There are games aplenty which kick off Saturday. While several highly ranked teams — West Florida, Virginia Union and Bowie State to name a few — will take on FCS opponents, there are some intriguing DII matchups to watch, as Lenoir-Rhyne opens on the road against a tough Virginia State team and Ashland travels to Notre Dame (OH) in its first season as a member of the GMAC.
Here are some of the top matchups we’ll be keeping close tabs on opening weekend.
Thursday, Sept. 2 — all times ET (Bold indicates a preseason Power 10 team)
- Slippery Rock at Wayne State (MI), 6 p.m.
- Shaw at Wingate, 6 p.m.
- Northern State at Minnesota State, 7 p.m.
- Edinboro at Grand Valley State, 7 p.m. — UPDATE: This game has been cancelled
- Oklahoma Baptist at Ouachita Baptist, 7 p.m.
- Shepherd at Ohio Dominican, 7 p.m.
- Angelo State at Lindenwood, 7 p.m.
- West Georgia at Carson-Newman, 7 p.m.
- Findlay at Ferris State, 7:30 p.m.
- Texas A&M-Commerce at CSU Pueblo, 8 p.m.
- Western Oregon at Colorado School of Mines, 8 p.m.
- Northwest Missouri State at Fort Hays State, 8 p.m.
- Pittsburg State at Central Missouri, 8 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 3
Saturday, Sept. 4
- Ashland at Notre Dame (OH), noon
- West Florida at McNeese State, 1 p.m.
- Tiffin at Marian, 1 p.m.
- UIndy at St. Xavier, 1 p.m.
- Minot State at Augustana (SD), 2 p.m.
- Bowie State at Delaware State, 4 p.m.
- Lenoir-Rhyne at Virginia State, 6 p.m.
- Virginia Union at Hampton, 6 p.m.
- UNC Pembroke at Winston-Salem State — UPDATE: This game has been canceled.
- Savannah State at Valdosta State, 7 p.m.
- East Central at Harding, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 5