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Wayne Cavadi | | November 8, 2021

Colorado School of Mines returns to DII football Power 10 rankings with one week remaining in the 2021 season

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

One game left. That’s all that remains in the DII football regular season. After a week that saw six top-25 teams and a slew of regionally ranked teams fall, this final game has become a must-win for many teams with hopes of playing into December. 

WEEK 10 RECAP: 5 upsets shake up the top 25 before the final regional rankings 

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. We will have the final regular-season Power 10 next Monday and one last Power 10 at the end of 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. I had my first 0-3 week of the season, but all three losses were upsets and completely blew up their respective Super Regions. 

LOOK BACK: The preseason Power 10AFCA preseason poll takeaways

The DII football Power 10 rankings (all games through Nov. 7)

No. 1 Ferris State | Previous: 1
The Bulldogs are one of two remaining undefeated teams this season. They improved to 9-0 in another route and all that stands in their way of their third-straight undefeated regular season is two-win Wayne State (MI). Ferris State has the second-best offense in DII football, which will come in handy in an absolutely stacked Super Region Three. Securing that first-round bye with a win next week improves their chances on yet another trip to the semifinals. 

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 are the only other team still undefeated overall this season. They improved to 9-0 with a 10-point victory over North Greenville. Despite the perfect season, Valdosta State’s playoffs start this weekend as it heads to Pensacola for a bout with the reigning champs, West Florida. A victory on the road against our No. 4 team in DII football will lock up the first-round bye. A loss will shake things up quite a bit.

No. 3 Harding | Previous: 3
With Ouachita Baptist losing this past Saturday, you can be sure the Bison will be watching the Battle of the Ravine closely. A Henderson State loss and Harding win will lock up the GAC without any worry of tiebreakers. And a Harding win looks promising, rolling into 4-6 Arkansas Tech after putting up 50-plus points for the third week in a row. This team is punishing defenses on the ground with multiple backs rushing for a DII-best 398.5 yards per game. Securing a home game in Round 1 would be beneficial to Harding — it holds DII's longest current home winning streak at 13 in a row dating back to 2018. 

No. 4 West Florida | Previous: 4
The Argos made a strong statement heading into the Valdosta State game. They completely dismantled a West Alabama team ranked No. 23 in the country and eighth in Super Region Two. Austin Reed is clicking, but so is this defense. What we saw last time around was West Florida heat up at the right time, going from unseeded to national champion. If this dominating victory is an indication of that, DII may have a repeat champion.

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

No. 5 Northwest Missouri State | Previous: 5
Heading into the 2021 season, we said Al McKeller would bring a new element to this offense that will make the Bearcats very dangerous this postseason. McKeller rushed for 140 yards this past Saturday, his sixth 100-yard game in nine tries (the other three games were 97, 93 and 91), and has seven touchdowns in the past two weeks. With him controlling the clock and that defense — which still has not allowed 20 points to a single opponent this season — Northwest Missouri is rolling into the postseason as a fine-tuned machine. 

No. 6 Bowie State | Previous: 6
Bowie State is playing for quite a bit this Sunday. Not only is it the CIAA championship game, but a Bowie State win and Valdosta State loss could get them a first-round bye in the tournament. Even with Ja’rome Johnson getting a well-deserved rest, the Bulldogs piled on the points in a 79-6 victory on Senior Day this past Saturday. Calil Wilkins is an absolute stud as he put up his fourth 100-yard rushing day in a row, with his three touchdowns fueling the blow out. 

No. 7 Grand Valley State | Previous: 8
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but this team’s depth is dangerous. This past Saturday, the Lakers put up 62 points to improve to 8-1. Not one single running back or wide receiver eclipsed the 100-yard mark and seven different players scored. Cade Peterson is the right choice to lead this team, as the quarterback totaled 280 yards and five scores on Saturday. It is impressive to watch a different player shine each week. 

REGIONAL RANKINGS: How the Super Regions break down

No. 8 West Georgia | Previous: 8
Not much to report here. The Wolves got a much-needed rest on a bye week after the heart-breaking two-point loss to Valdosta State on Halloween weekend. A win over Delta State this coming weekend will secure their spot in the DII football tournament where the Wolves will be put to the test against their sixth nationally ranked opponent this season. 

No. 9 Notre Dame (OH) | Previous: 10
The Falcons are soaring into the final week of the season after scoring 45 points two weeks in a row. With Bentley and Cal (PA) losing this past Saturday, the Falcons have a chance to jump into the top 4 in Super Region One. This would be highly beneficial, as that would give the Falcons an opening-round home game and the Falcons have won their last nine in a row on their own turf. The Falcons offense is clicking, but the defense is fun to watch; they are one of the most opportunistic defenses in DII forcing 26 turnovers this season. That’s second most in the division. 

No. 10 Colorado School of Mines | Previous: Just missed
Welcome back, Orediggers. Colorado School of Mines fell out of the top 10 for the first time all season with a loss to upstart Colorado Mesa. Michael Zeman ran for 106 yards and two scores to get the Orediggers back in the win column and with Augustana (SD) getting upset, they are expected to maintain their hold on No. 1 in Super Region Four. They aren’t out of the woods yet. They must beat Adams State to secure at least a share of the RMAC and get that first-round bye. 

Just missed: New Haven, Shepherd, Slippery Rock

TOURNEY FAQ: The essential guide to the DII football championship

3 games to watch: Week 11 breakdown, schedule and predictions

Last week: 0-3 (L: Bentley, Cal (PA), Augustana (SD)) | Season: 16-12
What we said: See last week's predictions

Last week was the worst of the season for me, but that isn’t surprising this time of year. We love the upset, especially with postseason implications on the line, so I have no problem being wrong. There are so many tremendous games this week and with first-round byes on the line, anything can happen. As I always, I will do my best.

Kutztown at Slippery Rock — Saturday Nov. 13 at noon ET
This is a rematch of the 2019 PSAC championship, one which Slippery Rock won by two points. The Rock’s offense is far superior to the Golden Bears, posting 41.0 points per game to Kutztown’s 25.4. That said, the Golden Bears have the better defense, allowing a stingy 12.1 points per game. This should be a shootout, but it feels like this Noah Grover story is going to be one to watch of the postseason. This will come down to the final drive and flip the Super Region heading into the selection show. Prediction: Slippery Rock

Henderson State at Ouachita Baptist — Saturday Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. ET
It’s Battle of the Ravine week and this year it is amplified. The shortest rivalry in DII — Henderson State literally walks across the street — is essentially a playoff game. Should Ouachita Baptist lose, the Tigers will need a lot to go right to see their three-year playoff streak stay intact. As it often does, this one will come down to the Reddies’ offense against that Tigers’ defense, though it is much closer than in season’s past. Ouachita Baptist is coming off a loss and is home but winning this rivalry five years in a row seems like a tall task. Prediction: Henderson State

BATTLE OF THE RAVINE: Here’s what you need to know

Valdosta State at West Florida — Saturday Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. ET
Is there a harder game to pick this weekend? Here’s what we know. West Florida has beaten Valdosta State ONCE in its brief history and that came in last season’s playoffs on a last-second, game-winning touchdown. We also know that there aren’t many offenses statistically better than Valdosta State… but West Florida is one of them. That said, Valdosta State’s defense has been better this season, allowing almost 10 points less per game than the Argos. West Florida has gone into the half trailing multiple times to ranked teams this season, but the genius of Pete Shinnick has pulled the right strings to come back. The problem here is, it is nearly impossible to come back on Valdosta State as the Blazers have proven time and again if you get them the ball last, they come out on top. I’m going with the Blazers and hoping we get that postseason rematch we all deserve. Prediction: Valdosta State

Other games with major postseason implications:

  • Bowie State vs. Fayetteville State (in Salem, Va.)
  • Tiffin at Findlay
  • Colorado Mesa at South Dakota Mines
  • UT Permian Basin at Midwestern State
  • Delta State at West Georgia
  • Mars Hill at Wingate
  • Northern State at Minnesota Duluth

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