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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | November 14, 2021

West Florida takes down Valdosta State and 7 more storylines to impact the DII football selection show

2021 DII football predictions: Can anyone dethrone West Florida?

We made it. The 2021 DII football regular season is in the books and the selection committee is sorting out the last few pieces for our first tournament bracket since 2019. 

While there wasn’t a tremendous number of upsets on the final Saturday of the regular season, there were quite a few games that will have major impact on the Super Regional rankings heading into Sunday’s selection show, airing right here on NCAA.com at 5 p.m. ET.

STREAM THE SELECTION SHOW: Watch live on NCAA.com 

Let’s get to it.

8 storylines that could impact the DII football selection show

1. Kutztown seemingly locked up its first-round bye with a 38-32 win over Slippery Rock in the PSAC championship game. With Findlay’s win over Tiffin (more on that in a bit), The Rock’s postseason hopes will come down to the committee (more on that, too). Golden Bears’ running back Jeremiah Nelson absolutely shredded the Slippery Rock defense for 223 yards and two touchdowns while his counterpart — The Rock’s Tim Smith — ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns of his own. The Kutztown defense was strong per usual, forcing three interceptions and coming up with the big stops when they mattered. Should this be Slippery Rock wide receiver Henry Litwin’s final game, he went out in style setting the program record for receptions with 112-yard day. Litwin’s partner on the outside Jermaine Wynn Jr. left the game with an injury.

RANKINGS: The latest Power 10 rankings | Super Region breakdown 

2. Now on to the Oilers. Findlay came up big in its 26-21 victory over Tiffin. Running back Brian Benson erupted for Findlay, reeling off 244 yards and three scores in the historic victory. The Oilers claimed their first G-MAC championship but more importantly, this was a battle between the bottom two teams in the Super Region One rankings. Now there are no guarantees, but this conference championship certainly keeps Findlay in the postseason conversation heading into Sunday’s selection show. If true, that makes the final spot a decision between Cal (PA) and Slippery Rock in Super Region One. The Vulcans are a one-loss team, but that one loss came to Slippery Rock.

3. Good luck predicting Super Region Two. West Florida finally did it. The Argos beat Valdosta State in the regular season for the first time in program history, 61-42. Quarterbacks Austin Reed and Ivory Durham found themselves in a shootout and with two of the deeper wide receiver corps in DII, this turned into a fun show. With Bowie State winning its third-straight CIAA title, we know these are the top three teams in the Super Region. How they fall is another question, but this could solidify the defending champs getting that No. 1 seed and all-important bye. 

TOURNEY FAQ: The essential guide to the DII football championship

4. Lenoir-Rhyne did all it could do to make its statement for the DII tournament. Dwayne McGee closed out his strong full-season debut with 206 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears closed the season on a six-game winning streak, scoring 285 points over that span. With Savannah State idle and Mars Hill losing to Wingate, this could help boost Lenoir-Rhyne into the final spot in the Super Region.

5. Gabe Goodman’s foot may have kicked Ouachita Baptist into the tournament. The 94th Battle of the Ravine went to the Tigers, with Goodman’s 53-yard field goal with 57 seconds left securing the 31-28 victory. Super Region Three was already a tough region to predict, and No. 10 Ouachita Baptist’s huge victory over No. 6 Henderson State only makes things murkier. 

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6. Especially when you consider the mild upset in this part of the bracket. Kenny Hrncir threw for 363 yards, ran for 60 and totaled four touchdowns in East Central’s big win over Southeastern Oklahoma State. The Savage Storm sat in eighth in the Super Region Three rankings with an impressive resume, but it’s hard to see them jumping into the playoffs with the loss. 

7. Brandon Alt made sure Bemidji State stayed in the postseason hunt. He threw for 435 yards and five touchdowns, mainly to Brenden Beaulieu who caught 10 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the Beavers' victory. The NSIC had a nearly perfect day when it came to teams that needed to win pulling out the victory. Cazz Martin and Armani Carmickle secured a victory for No. 7 Minnesota Duluth and Kyle Saddler threw for three touchdowns in a victory for Augustana (SD). Landon Freeman had a big day rushing for Sioux Falls just to make sure the selection committee has a tough time picking out the seven teams in Super Region Four — a Super Region in which all 10 teams trying to make the tournament won on Saturday.

8. One of those teams to note is Colorado Mesa. The Mavericks had an impressive first full season under Tremaine Jackson and closed the season with a 13-10 victory to improve to 8-2. That includes handing Colorado School of Mines its only loss of the season. 

No. 1 seed predictions (receive a first-round bye):

  • Super Region One: Kutztown
  • Super Region Two: West Florida
  • Super Region Three: Ferris State
  • Super Region Four: Colorado School of Mines

Quick hits:

  • Northwest Missouri State won its 31st MIAA title. The defense finished the 10-game regular-season schedule without allowing 20 points to a single opponent and running back Al McKeller scored three more touchdowns — giving him 10 over the past three weeks. 
  • How about Jordan Terrell ending his campaign with a 296-yard, two-touchdown day? He finishes the season with 1,843 yards in leading Barton to an impressive 6-5 record in its first full season of DII football. 
  • Unfortunately for Terrell, it wasn’t enough to earn the DII football rushing title. That’s because Truman’s Cody Schrader ran for 202 yards, his fourth 200-yard day of the season. That gives Schrader 1,855 yards, the most in 2021. 
  • We need to give a shoutout to UMary. The Marauders finish the season 4-7 but Danny Kittner and Logan Nelson put on a show all season. Nelson closed the season throwing for 465 yards and six touchdowns to finish with 3,732 yards and 41 touchdown passes. Most of that went to Kittner, who had his third 200-plus-yard day on Saturday, scoring four more touchdowns to bring his season totals to 1,723 and 18. Simply remarkable seasons for one of the best QB-WR combos in DII football.

The best stats from the AFCA Top 25

Unlike last week when teams shredded their opponents through the air, many running backs went off in Week 11. Here are the standout stat lines from those teams inside the AFCA Top 25 rankings.

Player School Position Stats
Tyson Bagent Shepherd QB 447 pass, 4 TD
Ivory Durham Valdosta State QB 415 pass, 3 TD
Graham Walker Frostburg State QB 395 pass, 7 TD
Austin Reed West Florida QB 311 pass, 2 TD
Jared Bernhardt Ferris State QB 75 pass, 176 rush, 4 total TD
       
Jeremiah Nelson Kutztown RB 222 rush, 2 TD
Cole Chancey Harding RB 210 rush, 3 TD
Shomari Mason West Florida RB 195 rush, 1 TD
Cazz Martin Minnesota Duluth RB 191 rush
Al McKeller Northwest Missouri State RB 169 rush, 3 TD
Calil Wilkins Bowie State RB 163 rush
Michael Zeman Colorado School of Mines RB 159 rush, 12 receiving, 3 total TD
Taylon Peters Washburn RB 123 rush
Bryce Young-Walls Grand Valley State RB 119 rush, 39 receiving, 2 total TD
Josh Cummings Western Colorado RB 115 rush, 1 TD
Jace Jordan West Georgia RB 115 rush, 3 TD
Tyris Dickerson Notre Dame (OH) RB 113 rush, 4 TD
Jake Conlon New Haven RB 107 rush, 2 TD
Seth McGill Valdosta State RB 104 rush, 1 TD
Rudolph Sinflorant Augustana (SD) RB 104 rush, 2 TD
       
Malik Morris Frostburg State WR 216 receiving, 3 TD
Lio'undre Gallimore Valdosta State WR 198 receiving, 3 TD
Armani Carmickle Minnesota Duluth WR 184 receiving, 2 TD
Ryan Beach Shepherd WR 140 receiving, 1 TD
Kyle Belack Frostburg State WR 132 receiving, 1 TD
David Durden West Florida WR 120 receiving
Phil Patterson West Georgia WR 116 receiving, 1 TD
Henry Litwin Slippery Rock WR 112 receiving, 1 TD

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