Welcome to upset city.
The latest DII football top 25 was handed quite the shakeup after Week 2 saw three top 10 teams fall. Former No. 5 Fort Hays State and No. 7 Harding were upset by unranked teams while No. 10 Midwestern State led a monumental second-half comeback for the ages in upsetting No. 2 West Florida.
Some old faces are in new places, while two teams make their 2018 debuts in the top 25. Let’s break down the new look AFCA poll.
— MSU Mustangs (@MSUMustangs) September 9, 2018
We’re No. 1!
Only two teams in the new top 25 didn’t change spots. One is your No. 22 Indianapolis Greyhounds, who bounced back with a 28-6 victory over Wayne State. The other is the top spot in the poll, belonging to your reigning national champion Texas A&M-Commerce Lions.
This past week the Lions went out of conference to take on William Jewell. They jumped out to an early 21-0 lead, but the Cardinals slowly chipped away, outscoring the Lions 10-3 in the second half in making the final 27-17 score a lot less lopsided. The Lions are still a perfect 2-0, but they have played two tightly-contested games against unranked opponents after their opening night thriller of a comeback against Texas A&M-Kingsville. Mark your calendars. The October 6 matchup against No. 7 Midwestern State should decide the LSC and possibly the top spot in the poll.
There was obviously a lot of movement in this week’s poll. No one jumped higher than the eight spots. Minnesota Duluth leaped from No. 24 to No. 16. The Bulldogs absolutely dominated Minnesota State Moorhead 60-7 this past weekend. Quarterback John Larsen was unstoppable, throwing for 281 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for another touchdown and 90 yards on the ground.
Colorado Mesa, who entered the poll at No. 25 last week, jumped six spots to No. 19. The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is gearing up for a high-flying, fun few weeks of football as the Mavericks, Colorado Mines (RV) and No. 9 Colorado State-Pueblo’s offenses have been amongst the best in DII early on.
As expected the three former top 10 schools were amongst the biggest to fall in this week’s poll. Harding fell 14 spots to No. 21, Fort Hays State fell 12 spots and West Florida dropped 11. You have to be impressed with the way the Argos tested themselves early on against two top 25 opponents. It was a tough loss on the road in Texas, but they should rebound at home this week in their Gulf South Conference opener against a Shorter team that has allowed 127 points in its first two games of 2018.
Two new teams join the mix
Yesterday on NCAA.com, we told you it was time to put Pittsburg State on watch. This week the Gorillas make their 2018 debut in the top 25 at No. 23. With a balanced attack, Pittsburg State looks like it has the pieces in place to make a run to its first DII postseason since 2014. Also joining the Gorillas as poll newbies are the Southern Arkansas Muleriders. The Muleriders fell behind quickly to then-No. 7 Harding, trailing 14-0 after the first quarter this past Sunday, but fought back, outscoring the Bisons 21-6 in the second half. Quarterback Barrett Renner is a name to watch for SAU as he can sling it with the best of them.
Who’s on deck?
Taking a look outside the top 25, there are a lot of exciting teams who may be just one big win away from a spot in the poll. Colorado Mines, who received the most votes outside the top 25, has a big test this week. The Orediggers offense is one of the most exciting in DII football right now. Running back Cameron Mayberry already has rushed for 230 yards on the season, while quarterback Isaac Harker and wide receiver Brody Oliver have already hooked up for 372 yards and seven touchdowns in two games. This weekend they face off against the best rushing offense and one of the more frightening defenses in DII in No. 9 Colorado State-Pueblo. A win at home will likely secure a spot in the top 25.
Notre Dame (OH) should be on watch as well. A Week 1 upset of then No. 16 Shepherd and another win this past weekend on the road has the Falcons perfect on the young season. And how about those Blazers at Valdosta State? They’ve already racked up 100 points on the season out of conference. This coming weekend VSU opens Gulf South Conference play at No. 8 West Alabama. A win there, and you may be looking at a new top 25 team come Monday.
Two conferences reign supreme
This week’s top 25 is dominated by the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, with each conference represented by four teams apiece. No. 2 Minnesota State is the highest-ranked NSIC team, followed by No. 11 Winona State, No. 16 Minnesota Duluth, and No. 24 Sioux Falls. Northwest Missouri State is the highest-ranked MIAA squad at No. 4, and with freshman quarterback Braden Wright at the helm, it looks like it has that old Bearcat swagger back, which is dangerous for everybody. No. 17 Fort Hays State, No. 20 Central Missouri, and No. 23 Pittsburg State are behind them in the rankings.
— Northwest Football (@NWBearcatFB) September 9, 2018
The GSC and Great American Conference are well represented with three teams apiece. The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and LSC have just two teams each represented in the poll, however, both are top ten teams. No. 1 Texas A&M-Commerce and No. 7 Midwestern State hail from the LSC and No. 5 Grand Valley State and No. 6 Ferris State earn nods from the GLIAC. Ferris State had one of the most impressive victories of the past weekend when the Bulldogs defeated then-No. 19 Findlay 59-13. Quarterback Jayru Campell is something special and one to keep eyes on this season.