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Wayne Cavadi | | October 25, 2021

Ferris State holds at No. 1 as Cal (PA) enters the DII football Power 10 rankings

How last year's lacrosse player of the year became Ferris State's QB1

Another week, another DII football Power 10 team upset. This week, freshly anointed No. 3 Colorado School of Mines fell to its in-state rivals Colorado Mesa. That was enough for the Mavericks to start earning some top-25 consideration, and just enough to bump the Orediggers from the top 10.

That means once again, there is a new team in our rankings.

WEEK 8 RECAP: More upsets rock the DII football landscape as regional rankings approach

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. 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 was my first losing weekend of the season, as I went 1-2. But both losses came in exciting fashion so I can live with it. More on that in a bit.  

PRESEASON PICKS: The preseason Power 10AFCA poll takeaways

The DII football Power 10 rankings (all games through Oct. 24)

No. 1 Ferris State | Previous: 1
The Bulldogs earned their first No. 1 spot in program history in both the AFCA poll and Power 10 rankings. They held court this week with a 38-10 thumping of Michigan Tech to improve to 7-0. The Bulldogs remain one of the top offenses in DII football, scoring a DII-best 47.7 points per game. They are the clear-cut choice for the top seed in Super Region 3 right now. 

FERRIS QB POWER: How Jared Bernhardt went from best in DI lacrosse to the DII football field

No. 2 Valdosta State | Previous: 2
The Blazers jumped three spots last week and hold the No. 2 spot after dropping 40+ points for the fourth time in a row and sixth in seven tries. They score 45.2 points per game, third best in DII, and at 7-0, they have command of the stacked Gulf South Conference which gives them the line to the top seed in Super Region 2.

No. 3 Harding | Previous: 5
Harding debuted at No. 5 last week and this team is so impressive that it continues to ascend the Power 10 rankings. The Bison have the best rushing offense in DII football, averaging 363.1 yards per game. When you pair that with a top-10 scoring defense (13.9) points per game, Harding controls the clock, racking up points and keeping opponents from scoring them. When this team gets rolling, coming back on them is nearly impossible.  

No. 4 West Florida | Previous: 4
The Argos bounced back from their first loss in dominating fashion, dropping 45 points on Mississippi College to improve to 6-1. Their one loss came to a fellow Power-10 school and it was very close at that. West Florida is defending its crown very well and the season finale against Valdosta State is mounting up to be the game of the year. 

HARLON HILL 2021: 23 preseason hopefuls | The ultimate guide to the history of the award

No. 5 Northwest Missouri State | Previous: 7
The Bearcats dropped last week after falling to Washburn by one point and rebounded with a 59-7 victory to improve to 6-1. This team allows less than 10 points per game as a top-3 scoring defense in DII, so the key to the Bearcats’ success is consistency on offense. Braden Wright returned in relief of Mike Hohensee at quarterback this week, giving them a pair of suitable quarterbacks that should make that offense click. 

No. 6 West Georgia | Previous: 6
The Wolves are the feel-good story of our Power 10 this season. West Georgia was projected to finish fifth in its own conference and now, more than halfway through the season, the Wolves are No. 6 in the country with a victory over the defending champs on their resume. The key to the Wolves success is a very balanced attack that can beat you in many ways, including a defense that has posted two shutouts this season. They look to play giant killers again with a matchup against Valdosta State this weekend. 

No. 7 Cal (PA) | Previous: NR
Truth be told, the Vulcans were on the cusp of making their 2021 debut in the Power 10 last week, but a no contest was what kept them out. A furious 21-point fourth quarter rally to come back on then-No. 23 Indiana (PA) showed, without question, that this is a top-10 team and likely top seed in Super Region 1. The defense is stout, posting three shutouts on the year and Noah Mitchell leads the aerial attack, averaging 320 yards passing per game with a 17:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The Vulcans still have Slippery Rock on the schedule, which may determine who gets a spot in the PSAC championship game.

No. 8 Grand Valley State | Previous: 8
The Lakers hold strong as the second GLIAC team in the top 10. They rebounded from that loss to Ferris State with a tightly contested 28-24 victory over Northern Michigan. While quarterback Cade Peterson is the star, the thing to like about this team is its incredible depth — it seems a different player leads the charge each and every week. Should Grand Valley hold off Michigan Tech next week — which is currently tied with the Lakers at 3-1 in GLIAC play — it should be in the driver’s seat for their long-awaited (at least in Lakers’ years) return to the postseason. 

No. 9 Bowie State | Previous: 9
The Bulldogs have won five in a row and are undefeated in DII play, sitting at 7-1 on the season. Their final two games are against teams with a combined record of 4-12. Bowie State should roll to another CIAA title and playoff berth. Not to sound like a broken record, but we’ve seen high-powered offenses from Bowie State in the past, and this year is no different with playmakers like Ja’rome Johnson and Calil Wilkins. It’s the star-studded defense that has me thinking this is the team to make that postseason run.

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No. 10 Notre Dame (OH) | Previous: NR
The Falcons postseason destiny is in their own hands. Sitting atop the MEC with Frostburg State — which they have already beaten — Notre Dame (OH) should lock up a postseason berth with ease by closing out the season undefeated. This week we saw that when the running game was pounding the rock, Chris Brimm is still the perfect fit at quarterback to lead the assault. 

  • Dropped out: Colorado School of Mines
  • Just missed: Augustana (SD), Colorado School of Mines, Ouachita Baptist, Shepherd, Slippery Rock
  • Super Region 4 note: It is going to be close as to who gets the top seed in Super Region 4 as both the Orediggers and Vikings are worthy. Colorado School of Mines has played a tougher schedule (.537 combined winning percentage) but the fresh loss to 6-1 Colorado Mesa may give recency bias to Augustana (SD) after its victory over the 2019 national runners-up, Minnesota State. These are the first two teams out of the Power 10. Throw Midwestern State in the mix with two victories over nationally ranked teams and it gets really interesting.

3 games to watch: Week 9 breakdown, schedule and predictions

Last week: 1-2 (W: Augustana (SD); L: Indiana (PA), Colorado School of Mines) | Season: 15-7
What we said: See last week's predictions

Nebraska-Kearney at Northwest Missouri State — Saturday, Oct. 30 at 3 p.m. ET
This is as tough a game to pick as it gets. The Lopers’ quarterback T.J. Davis made a name for himself as a freshman in leading UNK to an upset over the mighty Bearcats in 2019. On the flip side, it’s the Bearcats’ homecoming game, one in which they seemingly never lose. In fact, over the past five seasons, those games have been pretty dominant victories. Want more? This game pits the MIAA’s top offense (Nebraska-Kearney at 36.6 points per game) vs. the top defense (Northwest Missouri State at 9.1 points per game). I may change my mind on this before Saturday, but it’s Halloween weekend and a time for the abnormal to occur. Davis does it again in a shootout. Prediction: Nebraska-Kearney

Colorado Mesa at Western Colorado — Saturday, Oct. 30 at 3 p.m. ET
Are the Mavericks for real? That question can be answered this weekend if they take down the Mountaineers for their second-straight victory over a nationally ranked team. And I think they can. The Mountaineers are a great team, but Colorado Mesa has a lot of momentum at its backs to go along with the top offense in the RMAC. We see an upset in Gunnison. Prediction: Colorado Mesa

West Georgia at Valdosta State — Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. ET
The Wolves seem like a team of destiny, but the Blazers are — well, they are the Blazers. Valdosta State has the GSC’s top offense AND defense, but West Georgia is no slouch with the third-best offense and second-best defense. This battle for the Peach State should be as good as it gets, but Valdosta State has the slight edge. Until someone proves it can slow down this offense, the Blazers get the nod in what should be a fun football game. Prediction: Valdosta State

What else to watch:

  • Lenoir-Rhyne at Wingate: The Bears look to be back on track scoring 104 points in their last two games. A Wingate win puts it in the driver’s seat in the SAC and all but ends the Bears' postseason chances. 
  • UTPB at Texas A&M-Commerce: Both teams are 3-1 in the Lone Star Conference, so this is a battle to watch.
  • South Dakota Mines at Black Hills State: The most played rivalry in DII football history adds another game to its lore, marking the 136th time the Black Hills Brawl will take place.
  • Assumption at New Haven: This game has major NE10 implications. New Haven remains perfect in conference play while the Greyhounds have just one loss. A Chargers win sets up a huge game against Bentley next weekend.   

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