The dust on the opening round of the 2016 Division 2 football playoffs has barely settled, but the second round is already upon us. After 12 games in the opening round, there will be 8 this week with the top four seeds (California (PA), Northwestern Missouri State, North Alabama, and Grand Valley State) will join the fray.

An updated bracket for the Division 2 Playoff can be found hereIn round 1, we went 10-2 with our incorrect predictions being North Greenville and Emporia State. We hope to go 8-0 with our picks below.

Super Regional One (California, PA)

#5 Indiana (PA) (10-1) at #1 California (PA) (10-1)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Indiana demolished Fairmont State 62-13 in round one thanks to 372 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns from the team. Chris Temple had 20 carries for 147 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. California had a bye last week but had to be keeping an eye on their familiar opponent’s offensive outburst. These two teams met on October 8 where California won 31-28 with a last-minute field goal.

Indiana is averaging 48.4 points per game while California has put up 52.1 points per game. Indiana averages 502.8 yards per game (287 on the ground and 215.8 through the air) compared to 468 yards per game for California (194.4 on the ground and 273.6 passing).

The defenses are where this game will be determined. California allows 100 yards less per game at 258.6 than Indiana does at 365.1. Still, if Indiana can get their vaunted ground attack going and control the clock, they will have a very good chance at an upset. California’s rush defense has allowed 81.5 yards per game, but Indiana racked up 235 yards on the ground in their regular-season meeting.

We feel like this will be another close game as was their meeting back in October. We will take Indiana to pull the upset with their rushing attack 35-31. The winner of this game will face either Shepherd or LIU Post.

#3 Shepherd (11-0) at #2 LIU Post (12-0)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

Shepherd had a strong outing against Assumption and won 48-31 with Jeff Ziemba throwing for 317 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions while receiver Billy Brown had 12 catches for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns. LIU Post had to survive a furious Winston-Salem fourth-quarter rally to win 48-41. Jeff Kidd threw for 320 yards with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception while David White (134 yards) and Malik Pierre (117 yards and 3 touchdowns) both had good games rushing the ball.

This feels like an offensive battle and both teams will score points. Which defense will make the stops necessary to win? Can LIU Post get a big game out of their quarterback and running backs? If they do, that might spell trouble for Shepherd. Jeff Ziemba will need to keep the mistakes to a minimum as that could be the turning point.

We will take Shepherd to win this game 49-48 in a close battle. The winner of this game will play either Indiana (PA) or California (PA) in the quarterfinals.

Super Regional Two (North Alabama)

#5 UNC Pembroke (10-1) at #1 North Alabama (8-1)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

UNC Pembroke went on the road last week and upset Valdosta State 24-21. It was not easy as quarterback Patrick O’Brien had a horrendous outing with 5 interceptions, but Rontonio Stanle had 122 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The defense forced 4 of their own interceptions as well. North Alabama had a bye and certainly had to like what they saw.

UNC Pembroke has an above-average offense (34.6 points and 398.4 yards per game) and a mediocre defense (22.2 points and 329.8 yards per game allowed). North Alabama averages 40.4 points and 449.4 yards per game on offense while giving up 14.4 points and 324.6 yards per game on defense. North Alabama’s lone loss came to FCS Jacksonville State, one of the top teams in the 2016 FCS Playoffs.

We like North Alabama to win here 34-17. Pembroke does not have enough weapons on both sides of the ball to win especially if the offense has another turnover-filled day. The winner of this game will play either Tuskegee or North Greenville.

#7 Tuskegee (9-2) at #6 North Greenville (8-4)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

Tuskegee went on the road last week and survived a thriller 35-33 against Newberry. Kevin Lacey had an efficient day going 13 of 17 for 188 yards and 2 touchdowns while Kenny Grant rushed for 139 yards and 1 touchdown. North Greenville had an impressive road win as well defeating Florida Tech 27-13. Will Hunter threw for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead the offense while the defense forced three interceptions.

This does not feel like either team will overpower the other. Tuskegee has the better defense giving up 18.4 points and 264.5 yards per game (North Greenville at 24.8 points and 392.4 yards allowed per game), but North Greenville has the better offense at 32.6 points and 417.8 yards per game (Tuskegee at 27.7 points and 353.5 yards allowed per game).

Greenville’s Will Hunter does not turn the ball over much (just 3 interceptions this year) while Kevin Lacey of Tuskegee has 6 picks this year. If either team can force a turnover or two, that may be just enough. We will take Tuskegee to win this game 27-24.

Super Regional Three (Northwest Missouri State)

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

Game Time: 2 PM Eastern

Emporia State crushed Minnesota-Duluth in their opening-round game 59-26. Braxton Marstall had a stellar game throwing for 481 yards with 5 touchdowns and no picks. Two receivers finished with nearly identical stat lines: Louis Dailey had 6 catches for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns while Morris Williams had 4 catches for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Northwestern State, the defending National Champions, had a bye last week and they have already defeated Emporia State once this year by a score of 41-14. That game was on the road and this one will be played at home. The Bearcats held Emporia State to 183 yards of total offense, but keep in mind that game was the opening contest for both teams.

The Bearcats have not had a close game all year. The closest score was a 28-7 win over Fort Hays State on November 5. The offense averages 49 points and 498.5 yards per game. The defense allows 13.1 points and 246.6 yards per game. The one possible flaw for the Bearcats is that they have lost 7 of their 11 fumbles. Kyle Zimmerman has thrown for 3,056 yards with 34 touchdowns against 2 interceptions in 2016.

We like Northwest Missouri State to win the rematch but in a closer contest. We think the Bearcats take this game 42-28 and they will face the winner of Harding at Sioux Falls in the Quarterfinals.

#3 Harding (12-0) at #2 Sioux Falls (12-0)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Both teams saw their rushing attack lead them to victory in their first-round games. Harding took care of Central Missouri 48-31 thanks to an unstoppable ground game. Park Parish had 118 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing while Eric Simmons finished with 91 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. As a team, Harding had 355 yards and 5 touchdowns rushing on 5.8 yards per carry.

Sioux Falls won 34-21 over Azusa Pacific after a scoreless first quarter. Max Mickey led the way with 164 yards and 3 touchdowns while Justin Fulks had 90 yards and a touchdown rushing. Sioux Falls had 318 yards and 4 touchdowns on 5.4 yards per carry.

To no one’s surprise, this will be a game decided by rushing. Harding averages 385.7 rushing yards per game and allows 68.4 yards per game. Sioux Falls averages 322.8 rushing yards per game and allow 106.8 yards per game on defense. If one offense ends up with a stagnant rushing game, then the passing attack advantage goes to Sioux Falls. They average 205.7 yards per game through the air compared to 63.1 per game for Harding.

Max Mickey is up to 1,714 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns while quarterback Luke Papilion has 964 yards and 16 touchdowns for Sioux Falls. Harding’s quarterback Park Parish has 1,028 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing while teammate Michael Latu had 825 yards and 14 touchdowns. We will take Sioux Falls to squeak by at home 28-24. The winner of this game faces either Emporia State or Northwest Missouri State.

Super Regional Four (Grand Valley State)

#4 Texas A&M-Commerce (10-1) at #1 Grand Valley State (11-0)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Texas A&M-Commerce won their opening-round game 34-23 over Colorado Mesa at home with solid outings from quarterback Luis Perez (205 yards and 2 touchdowns with no picks) and running back Ovie Urevbu (109 yards rushing). They are rewarded with a trip to Michigan to face Grand Valley State who had a bye for the opening round.

Statistically, these teams are similar. Commerce puts up 40.5 points and 450.2 yards per game on offense compared to 39.7 points and 483.4 yards per game for GVSU. On defense, Commerce allows 18.6 points and 392.8 yards per game compared to 17.8 points and 347.4 yards per game for GVSU. The rushing attack advantage goes to Grand Valley State while Commerce has the passing advantage.

Luis Perez has 3,007 yards with 29 touchdowns against 3 interceptions. He will need to keep the turnovers down as he has for much of the season to keep Commerce in this game. GVSU will be led by quarterback Bart Williams (2,713 yards with 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions) and the legs of Marty Carter who has 1,590 yards and 18 touchdowns.

With this being a home game for Grand Valley State along with their rushing advantage, we will take them to win 31-24. Carter has rushed for at least 100 yards in the last 6 games and we expect that to continue. The winner of this game will face either Colorado Mines or Ferris State.

#6 Colorado Mines (10-2) at #2 Ferris State (10-2)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

Both schools scored 60+ points in their opening-round game. Colorado Mines defeated Southwest Baptist 63-35 after rushing for 405 yards and finishing with 614 total yards of offense. Zac Guy had 23 carries for 214 yards with 4 touchdowns rushing and Sam Seeton had 142 yards and 1 touchdown on the ground.

Ferris State won 65-34 over Midwestern State, but they started slowly and trailed 20-10 early in the second quarter. Quarterback Trevor Bermingham had a field day throwing for 126 yards and a touchdown but did most of the damage on the ground. He had 5 rushing touchdowns along with 126 yards on 26 carries.

Colorado Mines puts up a lot of points and yardage with averages of 50 points and 576.8 yards per game. Their defense gives up some points and yards too at 26.5 points and 414.8 yards per game. Ferris State averages 38.2 points and 494.3 yards per game while giving up 22.4 points and 354 yards per game.

We are going to call for a shootout here, which should be no surprise. We will take Ferris State to get it done 56-48. The winner of this game will face either Texas A&M-Commerce or Grand Valley State.


Below are all the picks in order of super regional.

Super Regional One (California, PA)

Indiana (PA) and Shepherd

Super Regional Two (North Alabama)

North Alabama and Tuskegee

Super Regional Three (Northwest Missouri State)

Northwest Missouri State and Sioux Falls

Super Regional Four (Grand Valley State)

Grand Valley State and Ferris State

Check back next week for our Quarterfinals predictions for the 2016 Division 2 Football Playoffs.

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