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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | October 11, 2021

DII football Power 10 rankings: West Florida reigns; Northwest Missouri State survives upset scare

2021 DII football predictions: Can anyone dethrone West Florida?

Brace yourselves, DII football fans. For the first time since opening weekend, nary a Power 10 football team lost this week. West Florida, which has yet to leave its perch at No. 1, and the rest of the Power 10 remain the same.

But be ready. With five of the biggest matchups of the season looming in Week 7 — including two that pit Power 10 teams against each other — we can guarantee next week’s rankings will have a new look.

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First, your weekly disclaimer: These are my rankings, and mine alone. As with all our Power 10 rankings, we pair insight from coaches, SIDs and insiders with what the selection committee tends to look at come tournament time — strength of schedule, win-loss percentage and stats of that nature — to come up with a fair version of the top 10. You can expect the new Power 10 every Monday throughout the season. 

As a reminder, we’ve added a bonus to the Power 10 report this season. Normally, when you read to the end of the Power 10 rankings, I pick three games to watch and make a prediction for each one. This past week I went a perfect 3-0 to move to 11-3 on the season. This week, consider yourself gifted an additional bonus. Due to the number of potential ranking-changing DII football games this weekend, I will attempt to pick five games correctly. 

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The DII football Power 10 rankings (all games through Oct. 10)

No. 1 West Florida | Previous: 1
Another week, another commanding victory for the Argos. This past Saturday was a 52-10 thumping of North Greenville. Austin Reed per usual led the assault, throwing for 294 yards and four touchdowns. The Argos’ offense is the most efficient in the Gulf South Conference, largely in part to a deep arsenal of wide receivers at Reed’s disposal. Shomari Mason has been a steady force at running back to keep defenses honest and eclipsed the century mark for the first time this season last week.

No. 2 Ferris State | Previous: 2
The Bulldogs were idle this past week. Thanks to Chowan’s top scoring offense running into the steamroller that is Bowie State, the Bulldogs are now the top in the nation. They lead DII with 548.4 yards per game and 50.2 points per game.

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No. 3 Northwest Missouri State | Previous: 3
The Bearcats battled in their closest game of the season and came out on the right side to improve to 5-0. The defense allowed more than one score in a game for the first time all year and the Bearcats trailed Pittsburg State 13-0 at the half. A dominant 20-6 second half, fueled by three touchdowns from quarterback Mike Hohensee, kept Northwest Missouri State perfect and in sole possession of first place in the MIAA. 

No. 4 Slippery Rock | Previous: 4
It was the fourth-straight week that The Rock scored more than 40 points. This offense is clicking. While Jermaine Wynn Jr. had another monster week, it was wide receiver Cinque Sweeting that stole the show, showing off his skills in the run game — going for 89 yards rushing and two touchdowns — as well as reeling in a touchdown through the air. Slippery Rock, which last lost a conference game in the 2018 PSAC championship, will have its toughest test of the season against nationally ranked Indiana (PA) this weekend. 

No. 5 Valdosta State | Previous: 5
We’ve spoken about the two-headed monster of a backfield the Blazers have in the past. It was running wild on Saturday as Seth McGill and Jamar Thompkins totaled 320 yards and three touchdowns on just 24 carries. Valdosta State is the top scoring offense and defense in the Gulf South conference and began a tough October with a dominating 55-0 statement victory. Up next is a showdown with fellow Power 10 team West Alabama. 

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No. 6 Colorado School of Mines | Previous: 6
The Orediggers improved to 6-0 in a dominant 41-20 victory over Black Hills State. Quarterback John Matocha, who had been quiet of late, erupted for a career-high 362 yards, tossing four touchdowns in the win, three of which went to Josh Johnston. As always, the Orediggers are rolling and will look for their 16th-consecutive RMAC victory next week.

No. 7 Grand Valley State | Previous: 7
Cade Peterson took control this past week as the Lakers moved to 5-0 in dominating fashion. The Lakers put up 49 in the first half and Peterson had all four of his touchdown passes in the first 30 minutes. This is a well-rounded team, scoring on special teams for the second-straight week and have a steady stable of running backs that can all produce. Next week’s Anchor-Bone Classic should be a good one. 

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No. 8 Wingate | Previous: 8
The Bulldogs debuted in the Power 10 last week and recorded another lopsided victory this past week to ensure they stayed. Nijere Peoples — who’s averaging 87 yards per game rushing this season — and Kalen Clark led the way on the ground with 86 yards apiece while Shaw Crocker aired it out with three touchdown passes. Wingate is atop the SAC at 5-0 and leads the conference in scoring defense (16.5 points per game) and total defense (280.3 yards per game). 

No. 9 West Alabama | Previous: 9
The Tigers also made their debut last week and are back to fight another week. Picked fourth in the Gulf South Conference preseason poll, West Alabama is looking like a force to be reckoned with as the first team to six wins. We gushed about Tyriq Martin last week and the star wide receiver followed up a strong performance with another dandy: He reeled in nine receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown. He’ll need to be active next week against the Blazers in a showdown that will shake up the Power 10 and GSC no matter what the outcome is. 

No. 10 Henderson State | Previous: 10
The Reddies were the third team to debut last week and responded with their fourth 50-point performance in six tries this season. Quarterback Adam Morse got the show rolling early with two touchdown passes and a rushing score in the first quarter. All-American L’liott Curry had a huge day, reeling in 169 yards receiving and three scores. The Reddies have the top offense in the GAC with 47.7 points per game, which makes this week’s showdown against nationally ranked Harding — the top defense in the GAC — even more exciting. 

  •  Just missed: Bowie State, Cal (PA), Harding, Notre Dame (OH), Ouachita Baptist, Shepherd, Wayne State (NE)


5 games to watch: Week 7 breakdown, schedule and predictions

Last week: 3-0 (W: Notre Dame (OH), Bowie State, Wayne State (NE)) | Season: 11-3
What we said: See last week's predictions

Indiana (PA) at Slippery Rock — Saturday, Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. ET
The Crimson Hawks are 4-1 and have been in and out of the top 25 all season. Slippery Rock has a 19-game winning streak in the PSAC West. The Rock has the second-best scoring offense in the PSAC, but what truly gives them the edge is that they also have the second-best scoring defense. That said, IUP will be the best offense they've seen all season while on the flip side, this is the best defense that the Crimson Hawks have faced. Simply put, this is a huge test for both teams. The ultimate edge is that the Slippery Rock offense is a steamroller. Prediction: Slippery Rock.

Valdosta State at West Alabama — Saturday, Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. ET
There are four Gulf South Conference teams in the top 25 and all four face off this weekend. The Blazers and Tigers get things started. If you've been following, you know that we feel West Alabama's wide receiver Tyriq Martin is a game-changing player, but Valdosta State counters with a few itself. These two teams are both undefeated, so how do you pick the winner? We know that the Blazers' offense has been one of the most lethal in the land for some time, but it is their 6.0 points per game allowed on defense that gives them the edge. Prediction: Valdosta State. 

Harding at Henderson State — Saturday, Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. ET
This is the toughest game to pick this week, and that says something. The Reddies have the top scoring offense in the GAC by a wide margin, a full nine points better than the next best team. Harding's defense, naturally, is the best in the GAC and has been one of the best in the country for some time.

There is quite a bit to break down to fully grasp the battle in this game. Harding's rush offense is the best in the conference, but on the flip side, Henderson State is statistically very good against the run... but is that because most teams have to abandon the running game to hang with the high-flying offense? Harding's defense is much better against the rush than the pass — can the Bison stop All-American L'liott Curry (spoiler: no one else can)? If Henderson State jumps out to a large lead in the first quarter, Harding's offense isn't quite built for the big come back. This one comes down to Harding's defense, and we think it gives it the slightest of edges. Prediction: Harding.

West Georgia at West Florida — Saturday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. ET
Another doozy of a GSC game pits the defending champs against the upstart Wolves. West Georgia had an impressive start to the season, posting two shutouts in four games and taking down nationally ranked Delta State before stumbling to West Alabama. West Florida has been even better. The Argos have taken down an FCS team and a nationally ranked team. But what stands out is how they simply don't buckle under pressure and none of their opponents' leads are too insurmountable at any point in the game. West Florida is on a roll for the ages, and we expect it to continue this week. Prediction: West Florida. 

Ferris State at Grand Valley State — Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET
This has been one of the more heated rivalries in DII football the past few seasons, and this year will be no different. Ferris State is No. 1 in the GLIAC in both offense and defense. No. 2? That would be Grand Valley State. Ferris State has won the last four matchups. But this Lakers' team cannot be underestimated. If you think the lack of a "star player" hurts them because of stats, you are mistaken as this is a very deep and talented roster. But we think Ferris State's roster is equally deep, and the Bulldogs have shown they can win with any combination of players on the field. This one comes down to the final quarter. Prediction: Ferris State.

Also consider: Wayne State (NE) vs. Augustana (SD) — Here's another huge game. Wayne State (NE) has been on a ridiculous tear, staring down nationally ranked and undefeated teams and coming out ahead. We think they do it again this week and possibly enter the next Power 10 rankings.

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