2015 Week 13 Big Ten Roundup

Connor Cook returned and Michigan State dominated Penn State on Saturday. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)
Connor Cook returned and Michigan State dominated Penn State on Saturday. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)

2015 Week 13 Big Ten Roundup

The second to last week in the Big Ten regular season saw all fourteen teams playing in conference clashes with the Big Ten East Division winner still to be decided. It was easy for Michigan State – win against Penn State and they would be playing in Indianapolis on December 5. For Michigan and Ohio State, they needed to win against each other and hope for a Michigan State loss.

#4 Iowa Hawkeyes at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Result: Iowa Win 28-20 (Friday, November 27)

Iowa went on the road and took care of business against Nebraska to move into the Big Ten Championship Game undefeated.

C.J. Beathard was far from impressive throwing the ball going 9 of 16 for 97 yards and a touchdown. However, Jordan Canzeri picked up the slack with 140 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on 17 carries. George Kittle had 2 catches for 35 yards and the lone receiving touchdown. Iowa put up just 250 yards of offense and did not convert a single one of their 9 third down attempts.

Iowa’s defense was the story as they forced four turnovers, all interceptions. Parker Hesse’s pick was excellent as he stepped in front of the pass at the four yard line, tipped the ball to himself, and easily scored the touchdown. Greg Mabin, Josey Jewell, and Cole Fisher all intercepted passes as well.

Tommy Armstrong did not have a good game for Nebraska throwing for 296 yards and those 4 picks on 25 of 45 passing. He did rush for 46 yards on 9 carries while Imani Cross had 19 carries for 55 yards and 2 scores. Cethan Carter led the Huskers with 4 catches for 76 yards while Brandon Reilly had 3 grabs for 50 yards. Jordan Westerkamp was held to only 2 catches for 41 yards. The Huskers were able to put up 433 yards of offense, but the turnovers hurt them. The Huskers did go 7 of 16 on third down.

Iowa (12-0, 8-0) will play Michigan State on Saturday to decided the Big 10 Champion. The winner is practically guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoffs.

Nebraska (5-7, 3-5) is not guaranteed a bowl spot, but could end up going to one anyway due to a lack of 6 win teams.

#8 Ohio State Buckeyes at #10 Michigan Wolverines

Result: Ohio State Win 42-13

A week after a horrendous offense performance for Ohio State, they responded by crushing the Wolverines with a massive rushing performance.

JT Barrett went 9 of 15 for 113 yards and a touchdown through the air, but this game was all about the ground attack for the Buckeyes. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns on 30 carries a week after he inexplicably had only 12 carries for 33 yards. Barrett also had his fun running the ball with 19 carries for 139 yards and 3 scores. Michael Thomas was the top receiver with 2 catches for 50 yards. Ohio State put up 482 yards on one of the top defense in college while going 7 of 13 on third down.

Jake Rudock had a decent game going 19 of 32 for 263 yards and a touchdown. He had no problem finding Jehu Chesson 8 times for 111 yards and a touchdown. Amara Darboh had 68 yards on 4 catches while Jake Butt had 5 grabs for 54 yards. The running game was virtually non-existent with 25 rushes for 57 yards as a team for the entire game. Michigan had 364 yards of offense and was a solid 9 of 18 on third downs.

Ohio State (11-1, 7-1) will not be playing in the Big 10 Championship, but will probably end up in a New Year’s 6 Bowl. Michigan (9-3, 6-2) finished a very good first year under Jim Harbaugh and will probably end up in a January bowl game.

Indiana Hoosiers at Purdue Boilermakers

Result: Indiana Win 54-36

Indiana had an offensive explosion against Purdue to get them into a bowl game. There was not a lot of defense played in this contest on either side.

Nate Sudfeld went 18 of 29 for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns while also had another touchdown rushing. No Jordan Howard for Indiana? No problem as Devine Redding had 144 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and the Hoosiers ran for 309 yards as a team. Ricky Brookins had 64 yards rushing while Andrew Wilson also had 52 yards and a score on 15 carries.

Mitchell Paige had 5 catches for 92 yards and a touchdown, Simmie Cobbs had 5 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown, and Andre Brooker had only one catch, but it was a 72 yard touchdown. Indiana put up 659 yards of offense and went 5 of 15 on third down. The defense also forced four turnovers, which the offense turned into only 3 points.

Purdue did not play poorly on offense, but they did have 4 turnovers. Austin Appleby had 332 yards, two touchdowns, and 2 interceptions on 36 of 57 passing. Appleby also ran for two scores while Markell Jones had 16 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown. Four Purdue receivers had at least 5 catches and 50 yards (Danny Anthrop, DeAngelo Yancey, Domonique Young, and Cameron Posey), but the two touchdown catches came from Jordan Jurasevich and Cole Herdman. Purdue put up 486 yards of offense and went 6 of 16 on third down.

Indiana (6-6, 2-6) has finally reached bowl eligibility for the first time since 2007 when they played in the Insight Bowl. Purdue (2-10, 1-7) finished with a worse record than 2014 when they went 3-9. Under Darrell Hazell, the team is 6-30, but opted to keep him for 2016 season.

Maryland Terrapins at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Result: Maryland Win 46-41

Despite having no bowl implications, this game was one of the more entertaining ones of the week as Maryland came back from a 31-10 deficit to win 46-41 on a touchdown in the final five minutes of the contest.

Caleb Rowe went 16 of 32 for 239 yards passing with no touchdowns or interceptions. The run game was great for Maryland as Brandon Ross ran for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns on 28 carries. Rowe had 7 carries for 98 yards, Ty Johnson was incredibly efficient with 2 carries for 87 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Kenneth Goins had one carry for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Jahrvis Davenport led the team in receiving with 7 catches for 89 yards, DeAndre Lane had 4 grabs for 63 yards, and D.J. Moore caught 4 passes for 49 yards. Maryland had 656 yards of offense and went 5 of 15 on third down.

Rutgers had a good day on offense as well, but lost a 21 point lead. Chris Laviano went 21 of 33 for 344 yards with 4 touchdowns and a pick. Paul James had 17 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown, Josh Hicks had 61 yards on 10 carries, and Robert Martin had 16 carries for 42 yards. Leonte Carroo ended his season the way he started: with a big game. Carroo had 7 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown while Janarion Grant caught 4 passes for 56 yards and a score. Rutgers had 530 yards of offense and went 3 off 11 on third down.

Maryland (3-9, 1-7) and Rutgers (4-8, 1-7) will both be home for the bowl season and will also be looking for new head coaches for 2016.

Penn State Nittany Lions at #5 Michigan State Spartans

Result: Michigan State Win 55-16

With a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game on the line, Michigan State did not just take care of Penn State, they destroyed them.

Christian Hackenberg went 22 of 39 for 257 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions while Saquon Barkley ran 17 times for 103 yards. Chris Godwin had a good day catching 11 passes for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns while DaeSean Hamilton had 8 catches for 78 yards and Saeed Blacknall had one catch for 77 yards. Penn State had 418 yards of offense and went 5 of 15 on third down. Penn State went an excellent 4 of 5 on fourth downs as well.

Connor Cook came back from injury for the Spartans to go 19 of 26 for 248 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Spartans as a team had a solid rushing attack with 38 carries for 188 yards and 3 touchdowns. The touchdowns came from Gerald Holmes, LJ Scott, and center Jack Allen. Aaron Burbridge had 6 catches for 75 yards and his touchdown was spectacular as he took a hit and spun twice to reach the end zone. The Spartans had little trouble on third down going 8 of 11 and had 436 yards of offense.

Penn State (7-5, 4-4) had a terrible ending to the season losing their final three games. Michigan State (11-1, 7-1) has a date with Iowa on Saturday in the Big Ten Championship Game. The winner will all but be guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoffs.

#16 Northwestern Wildcats at Illinois Fighting Illini

Result: Northwestern Win 24-14

Northwestern got out to a comfortable 21-7 halftime lead and held on from there to prevent in-state rival Illinois from reaching 6-6 on the year.

Clayton Thorson went 12 of 25 for 146 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. Justin Jackson had his eighth 100 yard rushing game going for 172 yards and a touchdown on 37 attempts. Warren Long had 25 yards and a score on 5 carries as well. Austin Carr had 3 catches for 61 yards, Miles Shuler hauled in 2 passes for 39 yards, and Dan Vitale had 3 catches for 32 yards and the lone receiving touchdown. Northwestern finished with 350 yards of offense and went 6 of 19 on third down.

Wes Lunt went 20 of 41 for 241 yards with no touchdowns and an interception, but ran for a score. Ke’Shawn Vaughn had 12 carries for 62 yards while Josh Ferguson had 14 carries for 40 yards and caught 7 passes for 100 yards. Desmond Cain had 4 grabs for 52 yards, Malik Turner had 3 caches for 46 yards, and Geronimo Allison had 5 grabs for 42 yards. Illinois had 319 yards and went 6 of 18 on third down.

Northwestern (10-2, 6-2) has reached double digit wins for the first time since 2012 when they went 10-3. In that year, Northwestern also won their bowl game. Illinois (5-7, 2-6) is not bowl eligible, but like Nebraska, may still be part of a bowl due to the lack of 6 win teams in the FBS.

Wisconsin Badgers at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Result: Wisconsin Win 31-21

A rivalry game between Wisconsin and Minnesota saw the Badgers’ rushing game get back on track.

Joel Stave’s first pass of the game was returned for a touchdown and the Badgers opted to keep the ball on the ground after that. Stave went 9 of 17 for 79 yards, no touchdowns, and the aforementioned pick. Dare Ogunbowale had his best game of the season with 33 carries for 155 yards and a touchdown. He looked much better this week with more decisive cuts, power running, and shiftiness. Taiwan Deal also had a good game with 90 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries. Alex Erickson was the leading receiver with 6 catches for 66 yards.

The Badgers defense was excellent forcing 5 turnovers against Minnesota. Tanner McEvoy had 2 interceptions, Joe Schobert forced a fumble and recovered a separate one, and Darius Hillary had 2 fumble recoveries. Corey Clement did not travel with the team due to an incident on Wednesday.

Mitch Leidner went 16 of 37 for 223 yards with a touchdown and three picks while being held to only 10 yards rushing on 6 carries. Rodney Smith had 7 rushes for 35 yards and a touchdown while Shannon Brooks was limited to 8 yards on 5 carries. Brooks was the top receiver with 3 catches for 53 yards while Nick Hart had 3 receptions for 45 yards. The Badgers did a good job limiting KJ Maye to 5 catches for 45 yards and Drew Wolitarsky had 2 catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. Minnesota finished with 276 yards, were 3 of 12 on third down, and missed both fourth down conversions.

Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2) finished third in the West Division, but still have a chance at 10 wins in the bowl game. Minnesota (5-7, 2-6) endured a tough season with the loss of their head coach midway through the season, but could still end up in a bowl game if there are not enough 6 win teams.

2015 NCAA Division 3 Football Playoff Round 2 Predictions

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2015 NCAA Division 3 Football Playoff Round 2 Predictions

The NCAA Division 3 Football Playoffs has been cut in half from 32 teams in Round 1 to 16 for Round 2. The First Round saw a 14-2 record in predicting the winners and we hope to make it 22-2 after Round 2. The full schedule for the second round can be found here and the updated bracket is here.

A prediction for each game, by region, is below.

St. Thomas (MN) Region

St. John’s (MN) (10-1) at St. Thomas (MN) (11-0)

Both of these teams easily dispatched their first round opponents at home with St. John’s winning by 44 and St. Thomas winning by 43. These two teams also met in the regular season with St. Thomas using a big second half to win 35-14 on the road. Jordan Roberts ran for 230 yards and 4 touchdowns in that game while the defense forced three turnovers. With this being a home game for St. Thomas, they are the pick to win again but in close contest. St. Thomas takes this one 34-24.

Thomas More (11-0) at Wabash (11-0)

Thomas More won their opening round game by 30 at home against Washington & Lee while Wabash overcame a slow start to win 35-14 over Albion at home. There are two contrasting styles at play here. Wabash has a very good defense giving up only 90 points the entire season to this point and Thomas More has a very good offense putting up 556 points this year (about 50 per game) and have not put up less than 36 points in a game. Thomas More will need to stop Mason Zurek who ran to the tune of 326 yards and 4 scores last week. We like Wabash to win this one at home 31-21.

Linfield Region

Cortland State (9-2) at Linfield (10-0)

Cortland State won their first round game comfortably against Salisbury 45-21 thanks to 447 yards and 3 touchdowns by Steven Ferreira, who only threw 6 incompletions. Linfield took care of business against Whitworth at home 48-10 with another strong defensive performance. Linfield has yet to surrender more than 14 points in a game this season, but it will take more than reaching that threshold to even test them. Linfield should cruise again by a score of 49-10.

Huntingdon (10-1) at Mary Hardin-Baylor (10-1)

Huntingdon beat Hendrix at home last week 38-27 with a balanced attack of 230 yards passing and 239 yards rushing. Mary Hardin-Baylor avenged their only loss of the season on the road last week against Hardin-Simmons 37-19. It took until the second quarter for them to get on the board, but they scored 23 unanswered points to take command 23-7 and led 37-13 late into the fourth quarter. With this game being at Mary Hardin-Baylor and the crusaders being a superior team, they will move on to the Quarterfinals with a 44-20 win.

Mount Union Region

Albright (10-1) at Mount Union (11-0)

Albright was never in trouble at home against an overmatched Norwich team and destroyed them 49-0. Mount Union cruised to a 55-23 win and gave up their most points of the season. Those points, however, came in the fourth quarter when the game was no longer in doubt. This game will also not be in doubt at that point with Mount Union winning 63-13.

Wesley (10-1) at Johns Hopkins (11-0)

This is one of the more tantalizing matchups of the second round. Wesley won their first round game at home by a score of 42-22 over Framingham State. Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins won 52-20 at home against Western New England. The last time these two met was in 2013 in the opening round of the Playoffs. Wesley won that game on the road by a score of 29-24 and a close game like that is expected again. This time, we will take Johns Hopkins to breakthrough by a score of 49-45 in a game that could easily be won by Wesley as well.

Wisconsin-Oshkosh Region

Ohio Northern (9-2) at Wisconsin-Oshkosh (10-1)

Ohio Northern won last week on the road 27-22 with a thrilling comeback. They trailed 16-0 at half and scored the game winning touchdown with just over five minutes to play. UW-Oshkosh took care of St. Scholastica 48-0 for their fourth shutout of the year. Ohio Northern will find it hard to score on one of the top teams in Division 3 and that is why UW-Oshkosh is the pick here. Oshkosh takes this game by a score of 35-3.

Wisconsin-Whitewater (10-1) at Wheaton (IL) (11-0)

Along with the Wesley-Johns Hopkins game, this is one of the better games on the schedule for round 2. Whitewater had no problems with St. Norbert at home in a 48-0 win while Wheaton won 55-6 at home against Lakeland. Both teams like to put up points on offense and both play some good defense, which makes this such an intriguing game. It is incredibly rare to see Whitewater have a road game at all in the playoffs, but especially this early. Still, they can win this game. We will take Wheaton to win at home 20-17.

2015 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff Round 2 Predictions

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2015 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff Round 2 Predictions

The second round of the 2015 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff will take place on Saturday, November 28. The Round 1 predictions were not very good with a 6-6 record. Each game is looked at below. The entire schedule can be found here while the updated bracket is here.

Shepherd Region

#5 Indiana (PA) (9-2) at Shepherd (10-0)

Indiana comes off a wonderful 47-21 road victory over Charleston (WV). The Crimson Hawks ran for 347 yards and 5 touchdowns in the first round win with Lenny Williams accounting for 151 yards and 4 touchdowns while Chris Temple had 118 yards and 2 touchdowns. Shepherd had a bye in the opening round after going undefeated in the regular season. The closest game played by Shepherd was a 35-28 win on the road over Concord. Shepherd had an explosive offense averaging nearly 44 points per game while allowing only 17 points per contest. Quarterback Jeff Ziemba has thrown for at least 210 yards and a touchdown in every game and it is hard to envision that not happening in this contest.

Shepherd has been superb at home this year with the closest win was 20 point win over Charleston in Week 2. Indiana will have a tough hill to climb against a Shepherd defense that allows only 90 yards rushing per game. We will go with Shepherd to 31-17.

#3 Assumption (11-1) at #2 Slippery Rock (11-1)

Assumption won their first round matchup against Bowie State at home with a 51-29 thumping. Assumption had a solid game from both the passing (257 yards) and rushing (193) attacks. Marc Monks threw 4 touchdowns while James Ward had 2 rushing touchdowns. Ashton Grant had 137 yards and 3 touchdowns while Deonte Harris had 10 grabs for 87 yards and a score. Slippery Rock won their opening game 40-21 at home over Virginia Union that was pretty comfortable throughout. Shamar Greene had 21 carries for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns while Dante Nania threw 3 touchdowns.

This game could be an offensive battle. Virginia Union was able to throw for 375 yards against Slippery Rock while Assumption could also exploit that same tactic if necessary. The same could be said for Slippery Rock against Assumption’s pass defense that yields 245 yards per game. We will take Slippery Rock to win a shootout 49-45.

Midwestern State Region

#4 Colorado State Pueblo (11-1) at #1 Midwestern State (10-1)

Colorado State Pueblo won their opening game 27-14 with a nice defensive performance where they allowed 284 yards. Bernard McDondle ran for 187 yards and 3 touchdowns in a very good performance. The defense has allowed only 14.4 points per game in 2015. Midwestern State had a bye in the opening round and has a tough first Playoff game. The offense averages 32 points while the defense gives up just over 23 points per game. The offense is balanced with a slight edge to rushing yards gained in 2015 compared to the passing game.

This game has a defensive feel to it and could come down to a field goal late. CSU Pueblo is favored by a field goal on the road and this game could go either way. We will take the defending National Champions to win 13-10 on the road.

#6 Grand Valley State (10-2) at #2 Ferris State (11-0)

Grand Valley State was able to avenge a regular season loss to Ashland last week with a 45-28 win. It was a near perfect balance between passing (230 yards) and rushing (231 yards). Bart Williams threw for 231 with 2 touchdowns, but also was picked off three times. The duo of Kirk Spencer (105 yards and a touchdown) and Marty Carter (99 yards and 2 touchdowns) ran for over 200 yards combined. GVSU averages just under 40 points per game and allows about 27 points. Ferris State had a bye in round one after an undefeated season in which they put up over 45 points per game and allowed 21. Quarterback Jason Vander Laan is the key to the offense. He ha 2,344 yards passing with 22 touchdowns against 5 interceptions, but has also rushed for over 1,400 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground.

These two teams met on September 19 at Grand Valley State, but that was no problem for Ferris State. The Bulldogs crushed GVSU 61-24 en route to putting up 633 yards of offense with Vander Laan having 419 yards through the air. It is hard to see the tables being reversed with Ferris State at home and we will pick them to win 52-31.

West Georgia Region

#4 Valdosta State (9-2) at #1 West Georgia (10-1)

Valdosta State won an incredibly high-scoring affair against Carson-Newman at home. Each team had over 682 yards of offense as well as over 400 yards passing and 230 yards on the ground. EJ Hilliard threw for 448 yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions, but also had 48 yards and another touchdown on the ground. Cedric O’Neal had 129 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground while Greg Dent had a big game receiving with 13 catches for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns. West Georgia went 10-1 this season with the lone loss coming to Florida Tech on the road by 2 points. The defense has been the key giving up 15 points per game and only 243 total yards per game.

The these teams met in a conference on October 10 at West Georgia with Wolves winning 49-28. Unless Valdosta State can find a way to unlock the West Georgia defense. They only mustered 305 yards of offense and had three turnovers. We will take West Georgia to win this game as well by a score of 35-17.

#6 Tuskegee (9-2) at #2 North Alabama (9-2)

Tuskegee was able to pull the road upset last game over Catawba 26-16. It was a nice performance particularly in the first half when they held a 14-0 before the first quarter ended. Tuskegee did give up 415 yards of offense including 330 through the air, but the got the bigger prize in the win. North Alabama had a very good season going 9-2 in the regular season with losses to Eastern Oregon (24-22) and West Georgia (31-10). The Lions put up over 38 points per game and allow 20 per contest. The defense gives up about 317 yards per game and that could pose problems for a Tuskegee offense that averages only 328 a game.

This game is North Alabama’s to lose at home. They should not have many issues with the Tuskegee offense and could put up some points themselves. We will go with North Alabama to win 45-20.

Northwest Missouri State Region

#4 Humboldt State (10-1) at #1 Northwest Missouri State (11-0)

Humboldt State won their first round game against Augustana (SD) 45-31 in a back and forth affair, but the stats show HSU domination. They racked up 707 yards led by 460 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a pick from Robert Webber while Ja’Quan Gardner ran for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns. HSU has a high powered offense averaging 44.5 points and 513 yards per game with the offense tilted towards the rushing attack. Northwest Missouri State had a perfect regular season and have one of the top defenses in the division. The Bearcats allow 12 points per game, but their run defense is excellent. They have allowed only 68.7 yards per game on the ground and 6 rushing touchdowns. The Bearcats total defense is at 219 yards per game.

This game really is Northwest Missouri State’s to lose at home. Of their five home games, only one game was close and that was a 23-16 win over Central Oklahoma when they needed a fourth quarter comeback. The Bearcats should not need that this week as they will stifle the Humboldt State running game. The Bearcats take this 35-7.

#7 Emporia State (10-2) at #3 Henderson State (11-1)

Emporia State pulled a shocker in round one with their defeat of Minnesota State-Mankato on the road by a score of 51-49. They threw their way to victory thanks to 437 yards passing from Brent Wilson with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The Emporia State team averages a shade under 37 points per game with the passing game leading the way with 330 yards a contest. They will have to outscore their opponent again because they give up 27 points and 408 yards per game. Henderson State won their opening game over Sioux Falls 23-16, but gave up 422 yards in the process, but forced three interceptions. The Reddies give up only 15 points per game and 312 yards so they will most likely need a lower scoring contest to prevail.

This game is hard to predict because Henderson State can give up a lot of yards, but not a lot of points. Emporia State’s strength is their offense. The lower scoring the game, the better for Henderson State. In a coin toss, we will take Emporia State to win 34-30 on the road.

2015 FCS Playoff Round 1 Predictions

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2015 FCS Playoff Round 1 Predictions

The 2015 FCS Playoffs begin on Saturday, November 28 with eight games in the first round. The eight winners on Saturday will then face one of the top eight national seeds in the second round on Saturday, December 5. The entire schedule can be found here while the bracket can be found here.

Fordham Rams (9-2) at Chattanooga Mocs (8-3) – 1 PM Eastern Time

The Fordham Rams enter this game after finishing the regular season 9-2 and second in the Patriot League. Their two losses were to Villanova (14-7) and Colgate (31-29), but their offense has been able to get going in their wins. They have won every game they have scored at least 35 points and even won a 24-16 battle against Bucknell. There is a worry about the defense, as they ranked in the lower half of nearly all major categories.

Chattanooga tied for first in the Southern Conference, but won the tiebreaker and exits off a big loss on the road to Florida State. However, their two losses were by a field goal apiece including the season opener against top ranked Jacksonville State at home. The Mocs will rely on their run first option attack as well as a good defense (23rd in the nation). The Mocs played in five games decided by 8 points or less in 2015 with a 3-2 record.

This is a tough matchup to call, but we will go with Chattanooga to win 30-27. The winner of this game will face the top seeded Jacksonville State Gamecocks in Round 2.

The Citadel Bulldogs (8-3) at Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (9-2) – 2 PM Eastern Time

The Citadel finished tied for first in the Southern Conference, but lost the head-to-head tiebreaker to Chattanooga. They will feature the #2 rushing attack in the FCS and are coming off a big win over South Carolina. Three of their last four games been decided by 8 points or less and are 2-1 in those games so they know how to win close games. The Citadel defense is a better than average at #40 in the nation.

Coastal Carolina finished second in the Big South after losing two games in conference to Charleston Southern and Liberty. Both of those games were on the road and by a combined 11 points. They have one of the better offenses in the FCS and also boast a good defense that gives up only 18.2 points per game. The offense is balanced enough to give most teams fits. De’Angelo Henderson will be the man to stop for The Citadel as he has 1,245 yards rushing and 15 rushing touchdowns.

This game being at home for Coastal Carolina boosts their chances big time and they are a bit more balanced than The Citadel. If the Bulldogs can hog possession with their rushing attack, they have a chance to pull the upset, but we will go with Coastal Carolina to win 42-31. The winner of this game will face #8 Charleston Southern in Round 2.

Colgate Raiders (7-4) at New Hampshire Wildcats (7-4) – 3:30 pM Eastern Time

Colgate was the surprise winner of the Patriot League after pulling a 31-29 upset at home against Fordham. It was a slow start to the season going 0-3 with one of the losses coming to this same New Hampshire team. They were not very good in that game, losing 26-8. Quarterback Jake Melville will be the main man for Colgate as the leading passer and rusher. As he goes, so will the offense. Colgate has the 72nd ranked defense by total yards in the FCS and have struggled mightily against the pass at #106.

New Hampshire finished in a tie for fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Wildcats suffered three losses in losses in conference and were not very close in any of those games. Their offense is only 74th in the nation by yards while the defense is similar at 77th by yards. The defense has been susceptible to the run giving up over 200 yards per game, but has allowed just 21.5 points per game employing a bend, but do not break style. It is also worth noting that all four losses came on the road for New Hampshire.

Despite the fact that New Hampshire won rather easy in the 26-8 drubbing of Colgate, this game could be defensive and much closer. With New Hampshire being at home, we will give them the edge by a score of 17-10. The winner of this game will face the #5 seed James Madison in Round 2.

Southern Utah Thunderbirds (8-3) at Sam Houston State Bearkats (8-3) – 3 PM Eastern

Southern Utah had a great season winning the Big Sky Conference. They opened 0-2 with losses to Utah State and South Dakota State, but would not lose again in 8 games when they lost by a point to Portland State. The offense for Southern Utah is one of the top 25 by yards, passing, points, touchdowns, and field goals. The defense has been poor at times particularly against the run (#87), but they also put together a streak of 5 straight games in the middle of the season where they allowed 7 points or less.

Sam Houston State finished in a tie for second in the Southland Conference behind the undefeated McNeese State team. Sam Houston State also opened 0-2 before ripping off 6 wins in a row. The offense for the Bearkats is #2 at 544.5 yards per game and they also like to put up points in bunches to the tune of nearly 44 per contest. The defense gives up nearly 400 yards per game, but also allows only a solid 24.5 points per game.

This game has a shootout feel to it. Whichever defense makes the most plays will probably win this game. We will go with Sam Houston State to win 45-40. The winner of this game will play #4 McNeese State in the second round.

South Dakota State Jackrabbits (8-3) at Montana Grizzlies (7-4) – 3 PM Eastern Time

South Dakota State comes out of the incredibly competitive Missouri Valley Football Conference where they finished in a three way tie for third. Their three losses were to North Dakota State, Western Illinois, and Northern Iowa, with the former two making the FCS Playoffs as well. SDSU had a shift in offensive style with Zach Zenner off to the NFL. The Jackrabbits have a top 20 passing offense led by Zach Lujan, who has missed some of the season due to injury. The defense is stingy when it comes to allowing points as they allow just 16.7 per contest, which ranks 9th best in the FCS.

Montana finished in a tie for second with Portland State in the Big Sky Conference. After opening with a win against the 4-time defending FCS Champions NDSU, Montana lost games to Cal Poly and Liberty. Their other two losses came to Weber State and Portland State. The passing game for Montana is the key for the offense (#11 in the FCS), but wide receiver Jamaal Jones will be the top target. Jones averages 99 yards per game and also has 9 receiving touchdowns. The Grizzlies are a middle of the road team on defense giving up 389 yards per game with the yardage split nearly even between rushing and passing.

Both of these teams like to pass the ball to move the chains, but both defenses struggle against the run and are decent against the pass. That will make for an interesting dynamic along with Montana being at home. The SDSU defense is much better at not giving up points (16.7 to 24.2 for Montana) so we will go with them in 24-21 win on the road. The winner of this matchup will face the #3 seed North Dakota State Bison.

Eastern Illinois Panthers (7-4) at Northern Iowa Panthers (7-4) – 5 PM Eastern Time

Eastern Illinois made a strong rally to finish the season in second place in the Ohio Valley Conference. They opened 0-3 including a field goal loss to Illinois State at home. They won the next five games before a 24-3 loss to top ranked Jacksonville State. They won their final two games to finish 7-4 and reach these FCS Playoffs. The offense has been better at running the ball than passing, but only yields 337 yards per contest on offense. Devin Church will be they key man running the ball, but can also be a receiving threat out of the backfield. The Panthers’ defense is top 35 against the pass and average against the run. EIU gives up 24.2 points per game, the same amount that they score.

Northern Iowa finished in a three way tie for third in the Missouri Valley. They lost their opener to Iowa State, came back to win the next two, and then lost the next 3 to sit at 2-4. They won their final five games over mostly bottom teams from the MVFC. Aaron Bailey is the cog in the UNI offense as the leading passer and rusher. He prefers to run as much as possible, but can throw the ball when required. The Northern Iowa defense is stingy against the run and also gives up 19.7 points per game (top 20 in both categories).

With this game being at home for UNI, they are the clear favorites to win this game. Their lone loss at home in 2015 was to Western Illinois by 5 points. The UNI defense may be too much for Eastern Illinois to overcome. Northern Iowa wins 24-13. The winner of this game will take on #6 Portland State in the second round.

Duquesne Dukes (8-3) at William & Mary Tribe (8-3) – 3:30 PM Eastern Time

The Duquesne Dukes won the Northeast Conference thanks to a 30-20 win over St. Francis (PA) in the final week of the regular season. The losses for the Dukes were to Dayton, Albany, and Bryant with all three coming on the road. The offense produces a solid 408 yards per game, but the emergence of running back Rafiq Douglas will be important for Duquesne. After failing to crack 90 rushing yards in the first seven games, Douglas has ran for at least 165 in three of the final four games of the regular season. The defense is ranked in the top 25 in yards per game at 326 yards per contest and they have allowed only 1,400 yards rushing all season.

William & Mary finished in a three way tie for first in the Colonial Athletic Association with losses to Virginia (35-29), Delaware (24-23), and Richmond (20-9) with all three of those coming on the road. At home the Tribe did not lose a game and only one game was closer than 14 points (James Madison, 44-41). The offense is incredibly balanced with the passing attack averaging just 20 more yards per game. The defense will be the unit that determines the outcome. They give up only 18 points per game (#13 in the FCS) and the yards per game surrendered is at 331 (#28 in the FCS).

This contest has a defensive feel to it and it also feels like the Tribe are more likely to win. Duquesne’s losses all came on the road while William & Mary was unblemished at home. The defense for the Tribe has also faced better competition. We will call for William & Mary to win 28-10. The winner of this matchup will play #7 Richmond in the second round.

Western Illinois Leathernecks (6-5) at Dayton Flyers (10-1) – 12 PM Eastern Time

Western Illinois was a surprise pick to make the FCS Playoffs at 6-5, but did finished in a three way tie for third. WIU lost to Illinois (FBS), Coastal Carolina, Illinois State, Youngstown State, and North Dakota State with only YSU not in the FCS Playoffs. WIU also beat FCS Playoff teams in Eastern Illinois, Northern Iowa, and South Dakota State. Trenton Norvell will lead the offense and the #32 passing attack, but Nikko Watson has back-to-back games of at least 150 yards rushing and a touchdown. The defense for Western Illinois is a major concern. They are below average in every major statistical category, which is never a good sign.

Dayton finished in a tie for the Pioneer League title, but their head-to-head win over San Diego made them the champs. Their lone loss came in the regular season finale at Drake where they lost 27-17. The offense is balanced for Dayton, but only averages 341 yards per game and that ranks 85th in the FCS. The passing defense for Dayton is poor at 87th in the FCS, but the Flyers have a solid run defense (30th) and do not give up a ton of points at 18.6 per game (#16 in the FCS).

This is a tough game to call because Dayton does not have a stellar offense (#85 in yards per game), but Western Illinois does not have a good defense (#84 in yards allowed per game with 409). On the flip side, WIU had the #32 passing offense against Dayton’s 87th ranked passing defense. In a true coin flip game, we will go with Dayton win at home 24-20. The winner of this game will face the second seeded Illinois State Redbirds.

2015 Week 12 Big Ten Roundup

Michael Geiger kicks the game winning field goal for Michigan State against Ohio State. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images North America)
Michael Geiger kicks the game winning field goal for Michigan State against Ohio State. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images North America)

2015 Week 12 Big Ten Roundup

The Big Ten had six conference games and one non-conference game in week 12. Once again, a team from Michigan was in the spotlight with Michigan State at Ohio State. Each game is looked at below.

Purdue Boilermakers at #5 Iowa Hawkeyes

Result: Iowa Win 40-20

Iowa got out to a big early lead and then kept the pesky Purdue Boilermakers at bay to keep their perfect season intact. The Hawkeyes also formally clinched the Big Ten West Division to reserve their spot in the Big Ten Championship Game against a yet to be determined team from the East division.

Purdue’s Austin Appleby had a solid game going 23 of 40 for 259 yards and a touchdown in relief after an injury to David Blough. Markell Jones ran for 87 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. DeAngelo Yancey led Purdue with 9 catches for 117 yards while Domonique Young had 4 grabs for 52 yards. Purdue did manage to put up 405 yards of offense thanks to playing from behind for the entire game. They went 4 of 18 on third down, but a solid 5 of 8 on fourth down.

C.J. Beathard was good again going 12 of 20 for 213 yards with 3 touchdowns and no picks. Jordan Canzeri had 95 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. LeShun Daniels ran for 2 touchdowns and 31 yards on 8 carries. Henry Krieger Coble had 4 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown while Tevaun Smith had 4 receptions for 73 yards. Iowa had 387 yards on offense and went 5 of 10 on third down.

Purdue (2-9, 1-6) will finish their season at home against Indiana battling for the Old Oaken Bucket. Iowa (11-0, 7-0) faces Nebraska on the road on Black Friday.

#12 Michigan Wolverines at Penn State Nittany Lions

Result: Michigan Win 28-16

Michigan had a consistent effort on the road to defeat Penn State and keep their hopes of a Big Ten East title alive.

Jake Rudock went 25 of 38 for 256 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. The Wolverines rushing attack was ineffective against Penn State. De’Veon Smith was the top rusher with 39 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries while Michigan had just 87 yards on 30 carries as a team. Jehu Chesson led the team with 4 catches for 69 yards, but Amara Darboh (7 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown) and Jake Butt (5 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown) also had good games. Michigan finished with 343 yards on offense and went 7 of 14 on third down.

Penn State struggled on offense and also struggled putting the ball in the end zone. Christian Hackenberg went 13 of 31 for 137 yards and a touchdown, but struggled mightily with accuracy. Saquon Barkley ran for 68 yards on 15 carries while also having 2 grabs for 19 yards. Chris Godwin led Penn State with 3 catches for 51 yards while Saeed Blacknall had a 25 yard touchdown catch in his only reception of the game. Penn State settled for 3 field goals in the red zone and only had 207 yards of offense. They went 3 of 14 on third down and 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Michigan (9-2, 6-1) will take on Ohio State at home next week. Michigan is tied atop the Big Ten East at 6-1 with both Ohio State and Michigan State. Michigan will need a loss by Michigan State as well as to beat Ohio State to make the Big Ten Championship Game.

Penn State (7-4, 4-3) will be on the road against Michigan State with a chance to ruin the Spartans Big Ten title hopes with a win.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Army Black Knights

Result: Rutgers Win 31-21

Rutgers was playing in the only non-conference game of the week and took care of Army on the road.

Chris Laviano went 13 of 21 for 105 yards with no touchdowns or picks. The rushing attack was excellent for Rutgers with Paul James leading the way. He had 116 yards and 3 touchdowns on 18 carries while Robert Martin had 99 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Janarion Grant had only 2 carries, but managed to run for 40 yards. Grant also had 3 catches for 31 yards while Leonte Carroo had 4 catches for 37 yards. Rutgers had 395 yards of offense, but struggled on third down going 3 of 10. They did managed to convert both of their fourth down attempts.

Rutgers defense struggled to stop the run, but that is expected against Army who runs the triple option. They allowed 261 yards on 52 attempts, but were burned on the six passing attempts by Army. Army went 4 of 6 passing for 140 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Edgar Poe had 2 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. Army also converted 9 of 13 on third down and 1 of 2 on fourth down. Rutgers gave up 401 yards of offense to Army.

Rutgers (4-7, 1-6) finishes their season next Saturday with Maryland coming to town.

Indiana Hoosiers at Maryland Terrapins

Result: Indiana Win 47-28

Indiana had big second and third quarters to propel them to a 47-28 win over Maryland and leave them one game from bowl eligibility going into the regular season finale. Indiana put up 37 points in the middle two quarters compared to just 7 for Maryland during the same time frame.

Nate Sudfeld had a big game going 23 of 35 for 385 yards and 4 touchdowns. He did not throw an interception and also ran for a touchdown. Devine Redding stepped up to rush for 130 yards on 24 carries after an injury knocked Jordan Howard out of the game early in the contest. Simmie Cobbs easily led the team and entire game with 9 catches for 192 yards. Andre Booker caught 2 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown while Mitchell Paige had 5 catches for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns. Indiana racked up 555 yards, but struggled on third down going just 4 of 14.

Maryland could not find any rhythm in the passing game between Caleb Rowe and Shane Cockerille. Rowe left the game in the second quarter after a concussion. Rowe finished 10 of 19 for 88 yards with a touchdown while also rushing for 27 yards on 4 carries. Cockerille went 10 of 21 for 87 yards while also rushing for 23 yards on 13 carries. Brandon Ross had a massive game rushing going for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground for the best game of 2015 and his career. Levern Jacobs led Maryland with 4 catches for 50 yards. The Terps went 3 of 16 on third down and also went 2 of 6 on fourth down.

Indiana (5-6, 1-6) faces Purdue next week on the road with their final chance at making a bowl in 2015. Maryland (2-9, 0-7) will face Rutgers on the road with neither team having a chance at making a bowl.

#20 Northwestern Wildcats at #25 Wisconsin Badgers

Result: Wisconsin Win 13-7

A defensive battle between Northwestern and Wisconsin saw a tight finish in a controversial game. The Badgers had a punt return touchdown called back due to an illegal fair catch and also had a touchdown overturned in the final minute.

Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson was largely ineffective going 9 of 20 for only 60 yards. Justin Jackson was the workhorse for the Wildcats with 35 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown. Garrett Dickerson had 2 catches for 24 yards as the Wildcats leading receiver. Northwestern finished with 209 yards of offense and went 7 of 20 on third down.

Wisconsin was led by Joel Stave going for 229 yards on 20 of 34 passing. He also threw 2 interceptions and also lost a fumble. He missed the final play of the game for Wisconsin as he took a sack with the Badgers on the 1 yard line of Northwestern and left due to concussion like symptoms. The Badgers were completely ineffective running the ball. Corey Clement went for 24 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, but the Badgers finished with NEGATIVE 26 yards rushing due to Stave taking so many sacks.

Jazz Peavy had 5 catches for 88 yards, but his touchdown catch in the final minute was overturned because he did not complete the process of a catch. Tanner McEvoy had 5 catches for 57 yards, but lost a fumble on one of those catches. Wisconsin finished with only 203 yards of offense, had 5 turnovers, and went a poor 2 of 13 on third down.

Northwestern (9-2, 5-2) faces Illinois at home on Saturday with a chance to get their second 10 win season under Pat Fitzgerald (2012). Wisconsin (8-3, 5-2) faces Minnesota on the road next week with a chance of winning 10 games for fifth time in the last 7 seasons. A win over Minnesota and their bowl opponent will get them to the 10 win mark.

#9 Michigan State Spartans at #3 Ohio State Buckeyes

Result: Michigan State Win 17-14

The game of the day for the Big Ten belonged to Michigan State and Ohio State. The Spartans won by a field goal despite not having quarterback Connor Cook.

Tyler O’Connor got the start in place of Cook and went 7 of 12 for 89 yards and a touchdown. Gerald Holmes ran for 65 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries while LJ Scott had 13 carries for 58 yards. The Spartans relied heavily on their rushing attack to the tune of 203 yards on 51 carries. Aaron Burbridge led the team with 4 catches for 62 yards while four others recorded a reception. Trevon Pendleton had the lone touchdown reception for the Spartans as they finished with 294 yards on offense and went 7 of 15 on third down.

Ohio State could hardly get anything going on offense. JT Barrett went 9 of 16 passing for 46 yards and a touchdown. Barrett was also the leading rusher for Ohio State with 44 yards on 15 carries. Ezekiel Elliott inexplicably had only 12 carries and went for 33 yards and a touchdown. Jalin Marshall was the top receiver with 2 catches for 22 yards and a touchdown. Ohio State had only 132 yards of offense and went 4 of 14 on third down.

Michigan State (10-1, 6-1) controls their destiny in the Big Ten East. They face Penn State at home on Saturday and a win would put them in the Big Ten Championship Game against Iowa.

Ohio State (10-1, 6-1) will face Michigan on the road next week. They need a win over Michigan and a loss by Michigan State to play in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Illinois Fighting Illini at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Result: Minnesota Win 32-23

The battle for two bowl hopefuls ended with Minnesota coming out on top as both teams now sit at 5-6 on the season.

Wes Lunt went 34 of 47 for 279 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception for Illinois. Josh Ferguson led the Illini in rushing with 105 yards on 20 carries while Kendrick Foster got his most significant playing time to post 56 yards rushing on 11 carries. Malik Turner led the team with 11 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. Illinois finished with 433 yards of offense and went 8 of 17 on third down, but also committed 3 turnovers.

Mitch Leidner did not have anywhere near the same passing efficiency in his past four games, but that did not hurt the Gophers. He finished 15 of 25 for 88 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 64 yards on 10 carries. Shannon Brooks ran wild all game with 174 yards and 3 touchdowns on 17 carries. KJ Maye had a quiet game going for 31 yards on 4 catches while Drew Wolitarsky had 2 catches for 26 yards and Brandon Lingen had 3 catches for 20 yards. Minnesota put up 343 yards of offense while going 7 of 13 on third down.

Illinois (5-6, 2-5) will need to beat Northwestern in Chicago to reach a bowl game in 2015. Minnesota (5-6, 2-5) is in the same position of needing a win against Wisconsin, but they will be at home.

Check back next Sunday for a roundup of the Big Ten’s final full week of the regular season.

2015 NCAA Division 3 Football Playoff Round 1 Predictions

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2015 NCAA Division 3 Football Playoff Round 1 Predictions

The 2015 NCAA Division 3 Playoffs begin on Saturday, November 20 with 16 games. 32 teams will battle it out this post season with the hope that they will be the final team standing in four weeks. The entire schedule can be found here while the bracket can be found here via the NCAA website.

Below is a prediction for each of the 16 games going in order of the region they are part of.

St. Thomas (MN) Region

La Verne (8-1) at St. Thomas (MN) (10-0)

La Verne has one loss this year, which came to Playoff team Whitworth. They lost 39-20 on the road before finishing the year off with 7 wins. They get a tough draw for their opening, and probably only, game. They will need everything to go their way as St. Thomas has crushed every opponent. The closes margin of victory for St. Thomas in 2015 is 21 points to St. John’s. St. Thomas rolls to the second round with a 59-7 win.

Dubuque (8-2) at St. John’s (MN) (9-1)

Dubuque started the year with a loss to this very St. John’s team on the road and they would like to avoid that same fate. Another loss to UW-Platteville gave way to an 8 game winning streak. They played three straight close games after the two losses, but proceeded to win comfortably the final five games.

St. John’s only loss came to St. Thomas (see above). They did well in their rest of their games including the opening win against Dubuque. It is hard to see a different result this time, as we take St. Thomas to win 42-10.

Washington & Lee (10-0) at Thomas More (10-0)

This is an interesting matchup of undefeated 10 win teams. Both teams like to score points, both have close victories, and both want to win the turnover battle. Washington & Lee has scored at least 34 points in their last four games, but can also give up some points (33 to Catholic, 35 to Averett). Thomas More won a close game against Case Western Reserve to clinch the PAC title last time out and is averaging 50 points per game and giving up 15 per contest. We will take Washington & Lee to win 38-35 in a close game.

Albion (9-1) at Wabash (10-0)

Albion has one objective in this game and it is in stark contrast to Wabash’s team. Albion wants to get their offense going and win a shootout, as they average over 50 points per game. Their defense has been porous with over 32 points per game surrendered. Wabash has only given up 7.6 points per game, have recorded three shutouts, and have 7 games in which they gave up 10 points or less. Albion will have their work cut out for them. Wabash will take this game by a score of 34-14.

Linfield Region

Whitworth (9-1) at Linfield (9-0)

This is a rematch of a game from October 24 when Linfield simply dominated Whitworth 52-10. Linfield gives up less than 7 points per game and put up 53 points per game. This is a brutal game for Whitworth in the opening round and it is hard to see Linfield not dominating again. Linfield takes this rematch by a score of 56-3.

Salisbury (7-2) at Cortland State (8-2)

Salisbury started the year with a 24-23 loss to Albright (in the Mount Union region below) and also lost a high scoring affair to Christopher Newport, 51-39. They tended to play high scoring, close games including defeating Wesley by a field goal on the road. Cortland State has losses to Buffalo State (29-21) and Morrisville State (42-28) with both of those coming on the road. They too can play high scoring and win close games. We will go with Salisbury to win 38-34 on the road.

Hendrix (8-2) at Huntingdon (9-1)

Hendrix makes their first appearance in the D3 Playoffs in just their third year of football. They lost road games to Austin and Berry, but showed the ability to score a lot of points. Their final game was a 19-0 win over Sewanee, which is a deviation from their normal high scoring output. Huntingdon’s lone blemish was a one point loss to Birmingham-Southern on the road. They too can score, which makes a shootout quite likely here. Huntingdon will take this game 52-46.

Mary Hardin-Baylor (9-1) at Hardin-Simmons (9-1)

This is another rematch of a game from the regular season. On that day, Hardin-Simmons won 29-26 at home in a contest that went from from 26 total points through 3 quarters to 29 points in the final frame. A touchdown in the final four minutes was enough for Hardin-Simmons and they will need another strong defensive performance to win again. MHB will try and make it a high scoring game and use defense to squeeze the life out of the game. We will take Mary Hardin-Baylor to win the rematch 41-30.

Mount Union Region

St. Lawrence (8-2) at Mount Union (10-0)

There is not much to say about this game. Mount Union is the number one team in the nation for good reason. They average over 53 points per game and yield less than 4 a game. Mount Union has pitched 6 (!!) shutouts this year including 9 games where they gave up 7 points or less. Good luck St. Lawrence, you are going to need it just to score any points.

Mount Union wins 66-0.

Norwich (6-4) at Albright (9-1)

Norwich had a rough start to the season with three straight double digit losses, but were able to win the next six. They most recently loss to Castleton by double digits to finish 6-1 in conference, but got the automatic qualifier. Albright lost one game to Delaware Valley by a score of 28-23 at home, but have dispatched a majority of their opponents easily. That is expected again and will take a 45-19 win to make the second round.

Framingham State (9-1) at Wesley (9-1)

Framingham State lost to Cortland State 61-49 in the second game of the year, but ran through conference play undefeated. They did have a few close games along the way, but also put up some points on offense. Wesley has one loss as well and that came to Salisbury by a field goal at home, but they also have a nice road win by a score of 50-49 over a very good North Central squad. Wesley will not have much issue scoring points on their way to a 56-34 win.

Western New England (10-0) at Johns Hopkins (10-0)

Western New England enters this game undefeated with most wins on their schedule in a comfortable manner. They survived Endicott by 6 points and their latest game was a 7 point win over Salve Regina, as both of those games were at home. Johns Hopkins is quietly putting together a good team in 2015. They have cruised to easy wins in all 10 games (no margin was less than 21 points and have scored at least 34 points in every game) and have a solid defense to help put most games out of reach. Johns Hopkins wins this game 41-17.

Wisconsin-Oshkosh Region

St. Scholastica (9-1) at Wisconsin-Oshkosh (9-1)

Both of these teams opened with losses in a close fashion. St. Scholastica lost 17-16 to Ripon on the road and has used solid defenses performances since that game to win the final 9 games. St. Scholastica has not allowed more than 19 points in a game all season. UW-Oshkosh lost 23-21 to Robert Morris-Chicago on the road and then proceeded to go undefeated in the strong WIAC in 2015. They too have a stingy defense and defeated UW-Whitewater by a score of 10-7. This game will probably be a low scoring affair and Oshkosh will come out with the win 28-6.

Ohio Northern (8-2) at Franklin (8-2)

Ohio Northern has two losses with one coming at the hands of the top team, Mount Union (51-7). The other was a 28-27 loss against Baldwin Wallace. Ohio Northern has a solid offense (when they are not facing Mount Union, of course) and could be able to put points up. Franklin lost their first two games of the year to Illinois Wesleyan (34-24) and FCS Butler (41-14), but won the final 8 contests. They too can put up points, but this game does not feel like it will be extremely high scoring. In one of the tougher games to predict, Ohio Northern will come out with a 31-28 victory.

St. Norbert (10-0) at Wisconsin-Whitewater (9-1)

St. Norbert is unblemished this year thanks in large part to their defense. Outside of a 31 point game by North Park, no opponent has been able to score more than 16 points and St. Norbert has 6 games where they surrendered 7 points or less. UW-Whitewater also has a strong defense and this game could see points at a premium. The edge in this game goes to UW-Whitewater’s offense which is better than St. Norbert. Whitewater wins this game 21-7.

Lakeland (8-2) at Wheaton (IL) (10-0)

Lakeland’s two losses came in back-to-back weeks against Albion (47-21) and Carthage (29-28). Their offense was able to put up points in the final 7 games while the defense was better, but still gave up points at times. Wheaton is another team with a stingy defense as noted by their 17-9 win against North Central in conference play. Wheaton gave up more than 17 points once (to Illinois Wesleyan) and have a very good offense. Wheaton should handle Lakeland by a score of 38-10.

2015 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff Round 1 Predictions

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2015 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff Round 1 Predictions

The NCAA Division 2 Football playoffs kick off on Saturday, November 21 with 12 games across the country. The only teams not in action are the top seeds in each of the regions as they have byes to Round 2 next weekend. The entire schedule can be found here while the bracket can be found here.

Below is prediction for all 12 games on Saturday in order of the region they are in.

Shepherd Region

#5 Indiana (PA) (8-2) at #4 Charleston (WV) (10-1)

Indiana comes in with two losses by a point apiece including a 40-39 loss at the hands of the top seed in the region, Shepherd. Charleston also lost to Shepherd, but were crushed by 20 points on the road in the second week of the season. This game has the set up for a shootout, which will favor Charleston. We will take Charleston to win 45-41 in a thriller and face #1 Shepherd in the second round.

#7 Virginia Union (8-2) at #2 Slippery Rock (10-1)

Virginia Union’s losses came by 4 points apiece to FCS Gardner-Webb (13-9) and Bowie State (23-19), who is also playing in this region. Slippery Rock lost their lone contest inexplicably to Seton Hill, who went on to 3-8, on the road by a field goal. Slippery Rock has poured the points on the entire year, but there is some concern over the recent dismissal of a top running back. Despite that, Slippery Rock’s offense will overwhelm Virginia Union for a 54-30 win.

#6 Bowie State (9-2) at #3 Assumption (10-1)

Bowie State enters this game off a loss in the CIAA Championship Game to Winston-Salem State 17-14. Bowie State blew a 14-0 lead and gave up 10 points in the final 8:38 of the game to fall by a field goal. Assumption lost to LIU-Post on September 12 by a score of 40-31, but have won 9 in a row including two games over New Haven. We will give the nod to Assumption at home by a score of 31-17.

Midwestern State Region

#5 Indianapolis (10-1) at #4 Colorado State Pueblo (10-1)

It is a brutal draw for Indianapolis on the road with the defending Division 2 National Champions. They lost in week 2 to Marian on the road by six points, but have not lost since that game. They have played in close games, but may struggle against the CSU Pueblo defense. Pueblo also lost in week two, but by a point to West Texas A&M on the road. The defense has been very good since that loss and they should be able to move on to round 2 with a 35-10 win.

#7 Texas A&M-Commerce (8-3) at #2 Ferris State (10-0)

Texas A&M-Commerce had three losses this season, but do not let that fool you. The three losses were to #10 Delta State in week two, FCS Sam Houston State, and Midwestern State (the #1 seed in this region). Two of those losses have come in the last three weeks, but this offense can score points.

Ferris State has plowed through their schedule with only one winning margin less than 10 points. That came on the road at Findlay on October 3. They won 42-39 and have put up point totals of 61, 56, 70, and 49 this year. This game could be a shootout with Ferris State coming out on top 63-40.

#6 Grand Valley State (9-2) at #3 Ashland (10-0)

Grand Valley State has two losses in 2015 with a crushing loss to Ferris State 61-24 and the other one to this Ashland team on the road 45-31. GVSU can put up points with the offense, but their defense will be the key if they want to win. Ashland has a potent offense as well averaging over 40 points a game, but they have played some close games with three games decided by a touchdown or less. They beat this team on Halloween by 2 touchdowns and that makes them the favorite in this game. We will take Ashland to keep their perfect record intact by a score of 38-24.

West Georgia Region

#5 Carson-Newman (9-2) at #4 Valdosta State (8-2)

Carson-Newman started the season 3-2, but six wins a row have propelled them to this spot. Offense is key for them as they average over 41 points per game, but defensively they give up 31 points. Their two losses came to Catawba (in the D2 Playoffs) at home and on the road to Lenoir-Rhyne. Valdosta State opened 3-0 before a 2 game losing streak. Their offense got on track during the 5 game win streak with each game yielding at least 34 points. This game could be an offensive contest and we will go with Carson-Newman to win 41-38 on the road.

#7 Newberry (7-4) at #2 North Alabama (8-2)

Newberry started 3-1 in 2015 before dropping three games in a row by a touchdown or less. After that losing streak, they blew out their opponents by an average score of 41.5 to 7. The waters get deeper as they go on the road to a top 15 team. North Alabama has two losses including a blow out loss to top seed West Georgia 31-10 in late October. North Alabama can put up points if they need to, but the defense will probably lead them to any victories they get in the Playoffs. We will go with North Alabama to win 30-7.

#6 Tuskegee (8-2) at #3 Catawba (8-2)

Tuskegee comes in off a close loss to Miles in the SIAC Championship game by a score of 26-23. The offense is not overwhelming, but the defense is solid enough to keep them in most games. Catawba has two losses, both to teams teams in this region. They were crushed by West Georgia in the season opener 44-13 and then lost in week four to Wingate 17-0. This game appears to likely end up a defensive contest. We will take Tuskegee to win 17-14 in a game that could easily go the other way.

Northwest Missouri State Region

#5 Augustana (SD) (9-2) at #4 Humboldt State (9-1)

Augustana enters with two losses in 2015. One was by a point on the road to Minnesota State-Moorhead while the other was also on the road, but to the then top ranked Minnesota State team 35-27. Augustana can score points and win close games, which makes them a dangerous opponent. Humboldt State is very similar in that they can score points as well, but have not really been in a close game. Their lone loss was a 35-10 shellacking to Midwestern State. This game looks like a shootout in the making and we will go with Augustana to win 45-42 in a 50/50 game.

#7 Emporia State (9-2) at #2 Minnesota State-Mankato (10-1)

Emporia State has two losses this year against Fort Hays State (27-24) and a 44-10 game to the top seed in the region, Northwest Missouri State. Emporia State has been in high scoring games and low scoring games winning in each fashion. Minnesota State-Mankato lost to Winona State at home for their lone blemish, but are usually blowing teams out. This is a tough draw for Emporia State and we will take MSU-Mankato to win 52-17.

#6 Sioux Falls (9-2) at #3 Henderson State (10-1)

Sioux Falls can boast that their two losses were to fellow Playoff teams in Augustana (35-28) and Minnesota State (44-3). Their wins have seen them score at least 28 points and only once did they not score at least 30 in a win. Henderson State lost their second game of the season to East Central by a touchdown, but have been perfect since then. They have won several close games and most of their games have their offense putting up 30 points or less. The defense will need to do well to stifle Sioux Falls and we will go with them to win on the road by a score of 42-28.