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.
#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.