Tag Archives: Division 2 Football

2019 FCS Versus Lower Division Football games

Kennesaw State begins their season against Point University as they look to defend the Big South crown. The Owls were ranked #14 by Athlon Sports and #22 by Hero Sports in the preseason polls. (Photo courtesy of Kennesaw State Athletics)

2019 FCS Versus Lower Division Football Games

With the beginning of 2019 season closing in, we take a look at the games between different divisions. In this article, we will provide a listing of all the 2019 FCS versus lower division football games. The lower divisions consisting of Division II, Division III, NAIA, NCCAA, etc. while the games will be broken down by week. The same breakdown was provided for the FCS versus FBS matchups as well.

All times listed below are Eastern Standard Time.

Weekly Breakdown

WeekDatesGamesNon-FCS Wins
18/29 – 9/180
29/5 – 9/7246
39/14111
49/2161
59/2862
610/520
710/1211
810/1910
910/2610
1011/200
1111/910
1211/1620
1311/2320

Week 1 (8 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
8/296 PMUnion CollegeMorehead State7-44
8/297 PMPikevilleMurray State20-59
8/298 PMBethel (TN)Lamar16-65
8/316 PMPoint U.Kennesaw State0-59
8/316 PMVirginia LynchburgMerrimack14-45
8/316 PMElizabeth City StateHampton7-65
8/319 PMSouthern OregonSacramento State19-77
9/15 PMMorehouse CollegeAlabama A&M30-35

Week 2 (24 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/58:35 PMWestern ColoradoIdaho State13-38
9/71 PMKentucky StateRobert Morris13-7
9/71:30 PMMars HillVMI21-63
9/74 PMWalshDuquesne3-44
9/74 PMLaneSouth Car. State0-34
9/74 PMLindenwoodE.Washington31-59
9/75 PMSimon FraserPortland State7-70
9/76 PMShawCampbell14-38
9/76 PMIndiana WesleyanButler27-30 (OT)
9/76 PMVirginia LynchburgDavidson7-45
9/76 PMVirginia StateNorfolk State21-44
9/76 PMVirginia UnionHampton36-17
9/76 PMEast StroudsburgWagner24-14
9/76 PMLouisiana CollegeStetson13-58
9/76 PMTuskegeeAlabama State31-38
9/77 PMMississippi CollegeAlcorn State7-45
9/77 PMTarleton StateStephen F. Austin37-26
9/77 PMTruman StateDrake10-7
9/77 PMArizona ChristianAbilene Christian14-66
9/77 PMTexas WesleyanHouston Baptist13-58
9/77 PMMidwestern StateN’Western State33-7
9/77 PMOkla. Panhandle St.SHSU0-77
9/77:30 PMShorterEast Tenn. State10-48
9/79 PMCentral WashingtonIdaho31-41

Week 3 (11 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/1412 PMCatholic UniversityGeorgetown0-69
9/143:30 PMNorth GreenvilleWestern Carolina17-20
9/144 PMKentucky ChristianMorehead State34-73
9/144 PMLincoln (PA)Delaware State12-58
9/146 PMFort Valley StateFlorida A&M20-57
9/146 PMTaylorButler17-14
9/147 PMEdward WatersSouthern0-61
9/147 PMW. Virginia WesleyanDavidson0-41
9/147 PMWestern New MexicoNorthern Arizona21-55
9/147 PMVirginia-WiseTennessee Tech14-31
9/147 PMLangstonArk.-Pine Bluff15-53

Week 4 (6 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/211 PMMayville StateMerrimack7-76
9/212 PMW. Virginia StateSoutheast Missouri St.10-56
9/214 PMElizabeth City St.North Car. Central7-45
9/215 PMEastern OregonPortland State9-59
9/216 PMW. New EnglandStetson28-59
9/218 PMValparaisoTruman State7-38

Week 5 (6 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/281 PMAve MariaJacksonville28-42
9/281 PMNC WesleyanStetson21-55
9/282 PMCharleston (WV)Valparaiso19-13
9/283 PMKentucky StateJackson State33-25
9/285:30 PMCentral State (OH)Alabama A&M20-63
9/286 PMReinhardtKennesaw State7-31

Week 6 (2 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
10/53 PMVirginia LynchburgMississippi Valley St.23-31
10/54 PMLaneArk.-Pine Bluff38-45

Week 7 (1 Game)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
10/123 PMMissouri S&TTexas Southern23-20

Week 8 (1 Game)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
10/193 PMVirginia LynchburgPrairie View0-51

Week 9 (1 Game)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
10/262 PMVirginia LynchburgHampton6-56

Week 10 (No Games)

Week 11 (1 Game)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
11/95 PMVirginia LynchburgSouthern7-58

Week 12 (2 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
11/161 PMFranklin PierceMerrimack0-57
11/163 PMEdward WatersPrairie View14-41

Week 13 (2 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
11/231 PMPoint UniversityFurman7-64
11/231 PMSt. AndrewsPresbyterian14-52

Those are the 2019 FCS versus lower division football games as of this writing. Any updates to dates or times will be provided as soon as they are known. Changes and corrections are welcome!

Visits: 263

Northwest Missouri State Wins Second Straight Title

Northwest Missouri State Bearcats celebrating their second straight Division 2 National Championship. (Photo Courtesy of Childrens Mercy Park via Twitter)

Northwest Missouri State Wins Second Straight Title

The Northwest Missouri State Bearcats won their second National Championship, third in four years, and sixth overall with a 29-3 win over North Alabama. Under a constant snowfall throughout the game, the defense came up big against the dual threat quarterback Jacob Tucker of North Alabama. The Bearcats held North Alabama to 22 yards rushing on 33 carries.

North Alabama’s offense had some success early moving the ball, but did not threaten to score until early in the second quarter. At the five yard line, Tucker threw across his body and into traffic, which led to an interception for Jack Young to keep the game scoreless.

Kyle Zimmerman, whose health was uncertain after last week’s game, threw a pick deep in North Alabama territory a few drives later. Late in the second quarter, it was the Bearcats who struck first on a drive led by Randy Schmidt at quarterback. It ended with Schmidt on a shovel pass to Jordan Grove from 7 yards out to make it 7-0. In response, the Lions drove down the field with less than a minute to go and settled for a 21 yard field goal from Kevin Henke to close the gap to 7-3 at halftime.

The second half began well for North Alabama. They forced a fumble and recovered it at their own 40, but they ended up losing a fumble of their own to give it right back. On their next drive, Tucker was sacked and lost another fumble that set the Bearcats up in great field position. The Bearcats made them pay with Phil Jackson running for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 14-3.

After that touchdown, it was tough sledding for the North Alabama on offense. The Bearcats forced a safety on a punt midway through the fourth quarter and then added two more scores in the form of a 13 yard receiving touchdown by Shane Williams and a 10 yard run by Jackson.

North Alabama was led by Jacob Tucker, but he had a very subpar game in the snow going 15 of 41 passing for 179 yards and an interception. He was also held to 26 yards rushing on 21 carries while Ray Beasley led the team with 29 yards rushing on 4 attempts. The Lions went 4 of 18 on third down, went 0 for 3 on fourth down, and had 201 yards of total offense.

The Bearcats were led by Randy Schmidt who made some good plays. He led the team in rushing with 96 yards on 14 carries and also had a touchdown passing. However, his best play was this gem:

Kyle Zimmerman went 13 of 26 passing for 100 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception thrown. The Bearcats ran for 226 yards on 40 carries as a team. Phil Jackson finished with 76 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Cass Weitl had a monster game on defense for the Bearcats with 2 sacks and he was constantly in the North Alabama backfield.

Northwest Missouri State completed an undefeated season going 15-0 and winning their 30 straight game. It was Adam Dorrel’s third title as coach of the Bearcats since he started coaching the team in 2011.

Visits: 15

2016 NCAA Division 2 National Championship Preview

Northwest Missouri State had a challenge against Ferris State in the Semifinals, but came through. They have one last test to pass to become back-to-back National Champions. (Dougal Brownlie/The St. Joseph News – Press via AP)

2016 NCAA Division 2 National Championship Preview

Just 60 minutes remain for the final two teams standing in the 2016 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoffs. North Alabama will meet Northwest Missouri State in the Championship Game on Saturday, December 17. This game will be played at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas with a kickoff time of 4 PM Eastern and can be seen on ESPN2.

Through four rounds, our predictions have gone 20-6. Below are the links to our predictions for the previous rounds along with the record for that round.

First Round Predictions (10-2)

Second Round Predictions (5-3)

Quarterfinal Predictions (4-0)

Semifinal Predictions (1-1)

Below is the 2016 Division 2 National Championship Game preview and we will also provide a prediction for this matchup.

North Alabama Road To The National Championship

Round 1: Bye

Round 2: Defeated UNC Pembroke 41-17 at home

Quarterfinals: Defeated North Greenville 38-0 at home

Semifinals: Defeated Shepherd 23-13 on the road

North Alabama Lions Preview

After an 8-1 regular season, North Alabama was given the top seed in their Super Regional. Their first game was against UNC Pembroke in the second round and they actually trailed 17-10 midway through the second quarter. They reeled off 31 straight points as Jacob Tucker accounted for 4 touchdowns (2 passing and 2 rushing). They had a much easier game in the Quarterfinals as they shut out North Greenville 38-0 with Tucker registering three more touchdowns (2 passing and 1 rushing).

Their semifinal game against Shepherd was impressive. They fell behind 7-0 after Shepherd’s first drive, but responded with the next 17 points. After two late first half field goals, North Alabama held a 20-10 halftime lead. The teams again traded field goals in the second half with North Alabama’s defense holding Shepherd to 105 yards of total offense in the final 30 minutes.

The Lions average 38.8 points and 437.8 yards per game on offense. The offense will go through Jacob Tucker who can pass or throw. He has thrown for 2,661 yards (61.1%) with 21 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Tucker has also ran for 902 yards and 16 touchdowns. Tucker has accounted for two-thirds of North Alabama’s offense and he will be the focal point for the Northwest Missouri State defense.

For all the praise Tucker gets, and he deserves much of it, there are other options on offense. Running backs Damon Cox (517 yards and 8 touchdowns) and Ray Beasley (431 yards and 4 touchdowns) will get some carries. The receiving duo of Dre Hall (75 catches for 1,132 and 9 touchdowns) and Julius Jones ( 44 catches for 686 yards) will be the top two targets for Tucker. UNA has 59 red zone trips on offense converting 49 of those into scores (42 touchdowns and 7 field goals).

The Lions’ defense has been very good this season. They allow 13.3 points and 309.9 yards per game (129.3 rushing and 180.7 passing). They have allowed opponents 31 trips inside the red zone and given up 25 scores. The silver lining in that is they have allowed only 11 touchdowns on those 31 red zone opportunities.

The defense will need to get penetration with the likes of E.J. Parnell (12 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks), Sheldon Lewis (8 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks), and Darius Wright (7 tackles for loss and 2 sacks). If these guys are not getting pressure, then North Alabama will probably not have much of a chance to win this game.

In the secondary, Philbert Martial is a ballhawk with 6 picks along with 6 pass breakups. Dorsey Norris and James Rivers both have 3 interceptions while Maurice Carnell leads the team with 12 pass breakups.

Jeb Millender averages 37.7 yards per punt (45 on the season) with 16 ending inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. He will need to be in top form for the Lions. Kevin Henke had a solid season going 14 of 17 on field goals with a long of 50 yards.

Northwest Missouri State Road To The National Championship

Round 1: Bye

Round 2: Defeated Emporia State 44-13 at home

Quarterfinals: Defeated Harding 35-0 at home

Semifinals: Defeated Ferris State 35-20 at home

Northwest Missouri State Bearcats Preview

Northwest Missouri State went 11-0 in the regular season and they dominated those 11 games. They won every game by double digits with the “closest” game being a 28-7 win over Fort Hays State. The Bearcats won their second round matchup against Emporia State where they allowed negative 30 yards rushing in a 44-13 win. Their Quarterfinal game was against run heavy Harding when they shut them out 35-0. They allowed 119 yards on the ground and of the six passes thrown by Harding, they picked off 2 of the passes.

The Semifinal game versus Ferris State was their toughest test yet. The Bulldogs made things very uneasy the entire game, but never reclaimed a lead after losing a 13-7 advantage midway through the second quarter. Ferris State came into the game averaging 493.3 yards per game, but were held to 284 yards by the Bearcats. Meanwhile, the Bearcats put up 415 yards despite an injury to starting quarterback Kyle Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was in a sling during the game and his loss would be devastating. The offense averages 41.4 points and 439.7 yards per game (286.9 passing and 152.8 rushing), but Zimmerman, a first year starters as a senior, has thrown for 3,663 yards (68.9%) with 36 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. The offense has had 74 red zone trips with 61 touchdowns and 10 field goals.

If Zimmerman cannot go, it will be down to Jonathan Baker (139 yards and 1 touchdown versus Ferris State) and Randy Schmidt to quarterback the offense. Schmidt is more of a wildcat type quarterback, which could give the Bearcats some change of pace in the backfield between their quarterbacks. Schmidt went 4 of 5 passing for 26 yards, but also ran for 71 yards and a score on 13 carries against Ferris State.

The rushing attack may see an increase in the amount of carries if Zimmerman is out. Along with Schmidt, Phil Jackson (845 yards and 9 touchdowns), and Cameron Wilcox (624 yards and 13 touchdowns) will need to step up to help out Baker.

The receivers for the Bearcats are Shawn Bane Jr. (31 catches for 707 yards and 10 touchdowns), Jordan Grove (54 catches for 587 yards and 5 touchdowns), and Dre Washington (42 catches for 582 yards and 4 touchdowns). They will be the options for whoever is behind center. George Sehl (32 catches for 488 yards and 4 touchdowns) was injured against Ferris State as well, which may give players like Shane Williams (35 catches for 420 yards and 5 touchdowns) and Jordan Bishop (23 catches for 271 yards and 2 touchdowns) a chance to see snaps.

The Bearcats defense is the strength of this team. They allow 12.7 points and 243.8 yards per game (172.8 passing and 71 rushing). The rush defense allows just 2.1 yards per carry, which will come in handy against a dual-threat quarterback like Jacob Tucker. They have allowed 28 red zone trips all year and have given up 19 scores (14 touchdowns and 5 field goals).

The defense is led by linebacker Jacob Vollstedt, who is be a beast. He has 130 tackles, which is 57 more than the second leading tackler (Cass Weitl). Not surprisingly, he leads the team with 24 tackles for loss and has 6 sacks (third most on the team). The sack leader is Collin Bevins at 8 while Weitl is just behind him with 7.5. The front four is menacing, but when you include Vollstedt, this group is imposing for any offense.

The secondary saw a loss against Ferris State when starting cornerback Marcus Jones went out. Jack Young leads the team with 6 interceptions while Kevin Berg has four and Jarrod Bishop has three. Anthony Lane has 18 pass breakups with Edward Richey at 11 and Berg at 8.

Matt Thorman averages 38.2 yards per punt (55 punts) and has put 16 inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. Simon Mathiesen has converted 18 of his 21 field goal attempts with a long of 48 yards. The Bearcats will feel pretty comfortable with him at anything 40 yards or less if the weather is cold.

Prediction

This game provides us an interesting story line. In 2015, the Bearcats faced a team that had an injury at quarterback coming into the National Championship. The Bearcats easily won that game and have won two of the previous three Division 2 National Championships. Overall, Northwest Missouri State is 5-4 in National Championship games and all 10 appearances have happened since 1998.

As for North Alabama, they have been here before, it has just been a while. They played in, and won, three straight title games between 1993 and 1995. They are 3-1 overall in the National Championship game (lost in 1985 to North Dakota State).

This game will come down to Jacob Tucker against the tough Northwest Missouri State defense. He will need to have success with the run, which will not be easy. As of posting, both Kyle Zimmerman and Collin Bevins are questionable for this game. Even if Zimmerman does not play, we like Northwest Missouri State here because the defense will overwhelming. The Bearcats take this game 23-10 to win their third title in the last four years and sixth National Championship in school history.

Visits: 40

2016 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff Semifinal Predictions

NCAA Football logo

2016 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff Semifinal Predictions

The 2016 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoffs are down to the final four teams. Northwest Missouri State, Shepherd, North Alabama, and Ferris State are the four teams standing. Both games will be played on Saturday, December 10 to determine the National Championship participants and can be seen on ESPN3. An updated bracket can be found here.

The NCAA reseeded the teams after the quarterfinals to rank the teams one through four. The two higher seeded teams will play at home for the semifinal round. The rankings are below.

1. Northwest Missouri State (13-0)

2. Shepherd (13-0)

3. North Alabama (10-1)

4. Ferris State (12-2)

After going 10-2 with our first round predictions, we regressed to 5-3 in the second round, however, we went 4-0 in the quarterfinals to give us a record of 19-5 after the first three rounds. Below are the predictions for the two semifinal games in order of when they start.

#3 North Alabama (10-1) at #2 Shepherd (13-0)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

North Alabama has played two games in the Division 2 Playoffs after getting a bye in the first round and they have two big wins. They defeated UNC Pembroke 41-17 in the second round after they pulled away with the final 31 points of the game. Jacob Tucker had 337 total yards and 4 touchdowns in the win. Their quarterfinal game was far easier as they held North Greenville to 181 yards of offense and forced 5 turnovers. Tucker had 296 total yards and 3 touchdowns on offense in the 38-0 win.

Shepherd has played three games and the offense has been strong in each one. In the first round, they defeated Assumption 48-31 at home after 317 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions from Jeff Ziemba. In the second round game at LIU Post, Shepherd won 40-21 after keeping the Pioneers at bay for most of the game. Ziemba threw for 375 yards with 4 touchdowns (no picks) while Brandon Hlavach had 177 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing.

Shepherd’s quarterfinal game was also on the road and they were close to being run out of the building. They trailed 17-0 less than midway through the first quarter, but responded with 21 straight points. They fell behind again at 30-21, but scored another 20 straight points to win 41-30. Ziemba threw for 200 yards with 3 touchdowns (1 pick) while Hlavach ran for 159 yards and a touchdown.

There are no surprises here. North Alabama will be led by Tucker on offense and their defense. Shepherd will be led by Ziemba passing and Hlavach running the ball. Ziemba did take a big hit late in the game so keep an eye on him to see how he plays early on. Shepherd averages 40.6 points and 328.3 passing yards per game while North Alabama allows 13.4 points 186.9 yards passing per game. That will be the matchup to watch.

Shepherd’s defense allows 18.6 points and 295.1 yards per game, but those numbers have been higher in the playoffs. The Rams have allowed 27.3 points and 340 yards per game in their three playoff contests. North Alabama should have success with Tucker.

This is such an intriguing game. Has North Alabama faced an offense like this since their season opener against FCS Jacksonville State? Can Shepherd get the defensive stops they need to win this game? Remember, Shepherd made the National Championship last year though it did not end very well for them.

We like Shepherd, with that playoff experience, to win a close game over North Alabama. The Rams win 34-31 to play in their second straight national championship.

#4 Ferris State (12-2) at #1 Northwest Missouri State (13-0)

Game Time: 3:30 PM Eastern

Ferris State started the first round at home against Midwestern State. They ran wild with 362 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground (5 by Trevor Bermingham alone) in their 65-34 win. In the second round, it was Bermingham again leading the way with 392 yards and 2 touchdowns passing along with 3 rushing touchdowns to a 38-17 win. In the quarterfinal, Ferris State defeated rival Grand Valley State on the road 47-32. Once again, Bermingham had a big day with 4 rushing touchdowns.

Northwest Missouri State had a bye in the first round and easily won their second round game at home against Emporia State. They allowed negative 30 yards rushing that day in their 44-13 win. Their quarterfinal matchup was against run happy Harding and the Bearcats handled that quite well. Harding came into the game averaging 381.5 yards per game, but the Bearcats held them to 119 yards on 43 carries. Harding attempted only 6 passes all game, completed zero of those, and were picked off twice.

Ferris State will easily be the most challenging opponent Northwest Missouri State has faced in the playoffs. The Bulldogs average 493.3 yards per game (263.9 rushing and 229.4 passing) and put up 38.8 points per game. Their lowest output of the season was 410 yards against Findlay (242 yards rushing and 168 yards passing) when they won 20-17. Northwest Missouri State highest total yards allowed were 360 to Northeastern State. The Bearcats easily won 74-29 when they had 662 yards of offense themselves.

The Bearcats will be led by Kyle Zimmerman, who has 3,582 yards (69%) with 36 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions through the air. Phil Jackson (800 yards and 8 touchdowns) and Cameron Wilcox (583 yards and 11 touchdowns) will lead the rushing attack. Zimmerman also has 263 yards and 7 touchdowns rushing this year.

The Bearcats will focus on stopping the run. They allow 68.2 yards per game on the ground. The Bulldogs average 263.9 yards per game on the ground and have no shortage of options. Quarterback Reggie Bell has 1,156 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing (also 5 fumbles lost), Jahaan Brown has 952 yards and 7 touchdowns, and Bermingham has 405 yards and 18 touchdowns are all a threat.

We like Northwest Missouri State to win this game. If they can stop the run, they can feast on the Ferris State passing offense. However, if Ferris State can get the rushing attack going, this game may be close. The Bearcats win this game 31-17 and play for their third national championship in the past four seasons.

Check back next week for a preview of the 2016 Division 2 National Championship.

Visits: 8

2016 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff Quarterfinal Predictions

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2016 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff Quarterfinal Predictions

Eight teams remain in the hunt for the 2016 NCAA Division 2 National Championship including all the top seeds in each Super Region. An updated bracket can be found here via the NCAA’s website.

After going 10-2 with our first round predictions, we regressed to 5-3 in the second round. Below are the predictions for the each of Quarterfinal games.

Super Regional One (California, PA)

#3 Shepherd (12-0) at #1 California (PA)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Shepherd won their opening round game over Assumption 48-31 by building a solid halftime lead of 28-16. They did the same thing in round 2 against LIU Post (26-7 at half), but their offense was unstoppable with 591 yards (375 passing and 216 rushing). Jeff Ziemba threw for all 375 yards with 4 touchdowns and no picks while Brandon Hlavach had 177 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground.

California had a bye in the first round and they even fell behind 17-0 to Indiana (PA) after 7 seconds into the second quarter. That was no problem as they outscored the Hawks 44-6 the rest of the game to win 44-23. Michael Keir threw for 274 yards and 4 touchdowns with no picks to lead the Vulcans.

Both teams have potent offenses with California averaging 51.4 points and 458.5 yards per game while Shepherd averages 40.6 points and 480.4 yards per game. Both defenses give up less than 300 yards and 20 points per game.

We know that Shepherd’s chances go through quarterback Jeff Ziemba. He has only five interceptions on the season with 68.3% completions and when he is passing the ball well, the offense is very difficult to stop. Consider that Ziemba’s worst game last year was the National Championship against Northwest Missouri State. He played hurt, the Bearcats zoned in on him, and he just could not get much going. He finished 11 of 16 for 136 yards with a touchdown and a pick. In addition, if Brandon Hlavach can have another big rushing game, the offense will probably have 40+ points.

California will be led by quarterback Michael Keir. Keir has 2,953 yards (65.6%) with 39 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this year. The offense was not overwhelming with 364 total yards, but they did not turn the ball over and converted all six of their red zone attempts against Indiana (PA).

This should be a good game and we will go with Shepherd on the strength of Ziemba and the team’s playoff experience. We will take the Rams to win 34-30.

Super Regional Two (North Alabama)

#6 North Greenville (9-4) at #1 North Alabama (9-1)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

North Greenville opened the playoffs with an impressive 27-13 win over Florida Tech on the road. They scored 24 points in the final 30 minutes and forced three interceptions. In round 2, the Crusaders had a 28 point first quarter and cruised to a 45-26 win over Tuskegee. Will Hunter threw for 272 yards with 3 touchdowns (1 pick) and the offense had 239 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground.

North Alabama had a bye in round one and last week took care of UNC Pembroke 41-17 at home. UNA actually trailed 17-10 midway through the second quarter after Pembroke defense recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. Jacob Tucker had 284 yards with 2 touchdowns and a pick along with 53 yards rushing and two touchdowns to lead the offense while Dre Hall had 9 catches for 135 yards and a score.

This is a rematch of the October 22nd game that North Alabama won 52-21. That game was close at halftime with UNA holding a 24-14 lead. Tucker ended up having a field day with 510 yards of total offense and 5 touchdowns. Dre Hall had 10 catches for 162 yards and a score as well.

North Alabama has both the better offense and defense. The questions are can Greenville play defense well enough and can the offense score enough points? That is a tough task and we like North Alabama to win this game 45-28.

Super Regional Three (Northwest Missouri State)

#3 Harding (13-0) at #1 Northwest Missouri State (12-0)

Game Time: 2 PM Eastern

Harding opened the playoffs with a 48-31 over Central Missouri thanks to 355 rushing yards as a team. Park Parish accounted for 291 yards of total offense with 3 touchdowns. They needed overtime in the second round to defeat Sioux Falls 27-24. Harding erased a 10 point deficit in the final 5 minutes.

Northwest Missouri State had a bye in the first round and then easily dispatched Emporia State 44-13 in the second round. They held Emporia State to -30 yards rushing and gave up 327 yards through the air.

This game will come down to the Bearcats rush defense against Harding’s vaunted rush offense. Harding averages 381.5 yards per game on the ground while Northwest Missouri State allows only 63.9 yards per game. Only once all year have the Bearcats allowed more than 100 yards rushing and that came against Lindenwood. The Bearcats won that game 47-12.

It is not hard to envision how this will go. The Bearcats will load up the box to stop the run and it will force Harding to pass the ball. Harding has a grand total of 828 yards passing this year so it could be a disaster of a game if they have to throw a lot. Harding may hit 100 yards on the ground, but that will not be enough. The Harding defense will need to limit the Bearcats on offense and create turnovers resulting in short fields. The Bearcats have just 11 turnovers all season (7 lost fumbles and 4 interceptions).

We like Northwest Missouri State to win this contest rather easily. The Bearcats maul Harding 38-7 at home.

Super Regional Four (Grand Valley State)

#2 Ferris State (11-2) at #1 Grand Valley State (12-0)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Ferris State opened the playoffs with a resounding 65-34 win over Midwestern State. Trevor Bermingham had 252 yards of total offense with five rushing touchdowns and there were two defensive interceptions returned for touchdowns as well. Round two was a more pedestrian game in a 38-17 victory. Colorado Mines was still within a touchdown late in the 3rd quarter, but a passing and rushing touchdown from Bermingham (392 yards passing, 44 yards rushing, and five total touchdowns) made it a flattering scoreline in the end.

Grand Valley State had a bye the opening round and then blew the doors off Texas A&M-Commerce in the second half to win 55-32 in the second round. The offense had 598 yards with 311 yards passing from Bart Williams (4 touchdowns and 1 pick) and 217 yards rushing by Marty Carter (1 touchdown).

Here we have yet another regular season rematch occurring in the playoffs. These two teams met on October 8 at Grand Valley State and the outcome was 35-23 in favor of GVSU. The Lakers took a 28-6 lead into halftime while Ferris State closed the deficit to 28-23 midway through the fourth quarter. A Williams to Nick Dodson 39 yard touchdown pass iced the game.

In that game, Ferris State dominated offensively. They had 29 first downs (21 for GVSU), 201 yards rushing (118 for GVSU), and 369 yards passing (232 for GVSU). Ferris State had five turnovers to 3 for the Lakers. It was the missed opportunities for Ferris State that proved to be the difference.

Ferris State missed a field goal, had two drives end inside the GVSU red zone (one due to a lost fumble and the other due to a turnover on downs), and had an interception result in a defensive touchdown for Grand Valley State.

Reggie Bell was at quarterback for Ferris State that day and he threw for 343 yards with 2 touchdowns, rushed for 140 yards, but also had 2 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles. Bell has been hampered by injuries, which has led to Bermingham taking over. No matter who is playing at quarterback, if Ferris State commits five turnovers again then it may be another bitter loss to their instate rival.

This could be a shootout. Yes the defenses are good, but there are playmakers on both offenses. Bell, Bermingham, or even Jahaan Brown (866 rushing yards with 7 touchdown) for Ferris State will be up against Bart Williams (3,024 yards passing with 30 touchdowns and 10 picks) and running back Marty Carter (1,807 yards with 19 touchdowns).

We like Ferris State to get revenge and win over their Michigan rivals. The Bulldogs will not turn the ball over as much and the offense will racking up yardage. In a close game, Ferris State wins 45-42.

Picks

The four predicted winners are Shepherd, North Alabama, Northwest Missouri State, and Ferris State.

Check back next week for the semifinal predictions for the 2016 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoffs.

Visits: 9

2016 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoffs Round 2 Predictions

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2016 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoffs Round 2 Predictions

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 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 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 allow 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 a 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.

Picks

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.

Visits: 31

2016 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoffs Round 1 Predictions

Northwest Missouri State dominated Shepherd 34-7 to win their 5th Division 2 Football National Championship (Brian Davidson/Kansas City Star)
Northwest Missouri State dominated Shepherd 34-7 to win the 2015 Division 2 Football National Championship (Brian Davidson/Kansas City Star)

2016 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoffs Round 1 Predictions

The 2016 Division 2 Playoffs will begin on Saturday, November 19 with 12 games. The bracket can be found here and the top four teams California (PA), Northwestern Missouri State, North Alabama, and Grand Valley State received a bye to the second round.

The Northwest Missouri State Bearcats are the defending Division 2 National Champions and went undefeated in the regular season. The Bearcats have won 2 of the past 3 National Titles.

Super Regional One (California, PA.)

#5 Indiana (PA) (9-1) at #4 Fairmont State (10-1)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

This is an offensive versus defensive battle. Indiana averages 47 points per game while Fairmont State gives up 15.1 points per game. Indiana has three rushers with at least 575 yards in Samir Bullock (892 yards), Lenny Williams Jr. (594), and Chris Temple (658). Fairmont is led by quarterback Cooper Hibbs (2,855 yards with 18 touchdowns), but he is turnover prone with 12 picks on the season.

We will take the offense and Indiana (PA) to win this battle 24-20. They will use their run game to pound Fairmont and if they can force an interception or two from Hibbs, they will have a great chance to win. The winner of this contest will face #1 California (PA) in the second round.

#7 Winston-Salem (9-2) at #2 LIU Post (11-0)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

Winston-Salem started 1-2, but has reeled of 8 wins in a row. LIU Post had the pleasure of defeating fellow playoff team Assumption twice during the year with latter coming in the Northeast-10 Conference Championship game.

This has a defensive feel to it because both teams allow 340 yards per game and less than 20 points per game. Interestingly, Winston-Salem is undefeated away from home (5-0). Despite that we will go with LIU-Post to win 21-17. The winner of this game will face either Assumption or Shepherd in Round 2.

#6 Assumption (9-2) at #3 Shepherd (10-0)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

Shepherd returns to the Division 2 Playoffs coming off their crushing loss last year in the National Championship against Northwest Missouri State. Both teams feature powerful offenses and strong defenses. Assumption averages 37.7 points per game and give up only 284.6 yards and 17.2 points per game. Shepherd scores 39.9 points per game and allow only 281.5 yards and 16 points per game.

This game will come down to quarterback play and that is why we will go with Shepherd to win 28-14. Shepherd quarterback Jeff Ziemba has thrown for 2,623 yards (68.4% completions) with 20 touchdowns against only 3 interceptions this year. Assumption quarterback Marc Monks as thrown for 2,616 yards and 24 touchdowns, but is far less accurate at 58.1% and has thrown 10 interceptions. The winner of this game will play either Winston-Salem or LIU-Post.

Super Regional Two (North Alabama)

#5 UNC Pembroke (9-1) at #4 Valdosta State (8-2)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Both opponents should be used to playing tough opponents on the road this year. Pembroke faced Winston-Salem (20-17 win) and Tuskegee (21-16 loss) during the regular season. Valdosta State played North Alabama (44-19 loss) and Florida Tech (38-20 loss) away, but they get the home draw this time around.

This looks like a pretty even matchup between the schools. Neither team is overwhelming on offense or defense, but it may come down to 3rd down conversions. Valdosta State has allowed only 24% (34 of 141) on third down to their opponents while Pembroke has allowed 31.6% (43 of 138). Both offenses are converting over 40% of their 3rd downs.

We will go with UNC Pembroke to win 27-24 on the road. They have shown the ability to play well on the road, but this game could really go either way. The winner of this game gets #1 North Alabama in Round 2.

#7 Tuskegee (8-2) at #2 Newberry (10-1)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Tuskegee had a really good regular season going 8-2 with wins over FCS Florida A&M and fellow playoff participant UNC Pembroke. Newberry started with a loss to Florida Tech at home 42-28, but won 10 straight to close out the year.

Tuskegee will rely on their defense to win this game (they allow only 16.9 points and 255 yards per game). Only once did they allow more than 20 points and that was the regular season finale to Virginia State when they lost 45-35. If this is a shootout, Tuskegee may be in trouble. Newberry’s offense puts up 36.6 points and 464 yards per game.

We are going to go with Tuskegee to pull the upset here 20-13. The defense will be stingy enough to keep the Newberry offense in check. Last year, Tuskegee defeated both Catawba and North Alabama on the road in the playoffs. The winner of this game will play the winner of North Greenville and Florida Tech.

#6 North Greenville (7-4) at #3 Florida Tech (8-2)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

North Greenville’s four losses came to some pretty good teams: Newberry (29-28), UNC Pembroke (49-35), FCS Citadel (38-14), and North Alabama (52-21). They went 3-3 on the road, but all of those losses were by double digits.

Florida Tech had wins over Newberry (42-28), FCS Presbyterian (28-7), and Valdosta State (38-20). They did avoid North Alabama due to the game being cancelled, but may end up facing them should they make the Quarterfinals.

We are going to take Florida Tech to win this game 38-21. They have the better defense and they should be able to force stops against North Greenville. The winner of this game will play the winner of the Tuskegee and Newberry game.

Super Regional Three (Northwest Missouri State)

#5 Minnesota-Duluth (10-1) at #4 Emporia State (10-1)

Game Time: 2 PM Eastern

Duluth started with a close 42-38 loss at Southwest Minnesota State and then reeled off 10 straight wins with their high-powered offense. It was the same story for Emporia State as they lost the opener to Northwest Missouri State 41-14.

Minnesota-Duluth has the better offense at 46.8 points and 542.7 points per game, but Emporia State has the better defense giving up 22.3 points (over 8 points less than Duluth’s defense). This game feels like it will a high scoring affair and it may come down to which defense can force a turnover or make a stop.

We will go with Minnesota-Duluth to win 45-42. Whichever team ends up winning this game gets the arduous task of facing Northwest Missouri State.

#7 Azusa Pacific (9-2) at #2 Sioux Falls (11-0)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Azusa Pacific owns two losses to fellow playoff teams Colorado Mines (27-23) and Colorado Mesa (33-24) with both games on the road. Sioux Falls was fortunate they did not face Minnesota-Duluth in conference play, but that would have been a wonderful game. They won most of their games comfortably with only 1 game decided by less than 10 points.

Azusa Pacific has a good offense putting up 37.6 points and 396.2 yards per game. Sioux Falls puts up 40.8 points and 532 yards of offense per game. The defensive tilt goes to Azusa at 14.4 points and 320 yards per game compared to 18.8 points and 358.5 yards per game for Sioux Falls.

We are going to take Sioux Falls to win this contest on the strength of Max Mickey’s legs. He has rushed for 1,550 yards and 16 touchdowns, but be weary of quarterback Luke Papilion. He has 906 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns to go along with 2,022 yards passing with 15 touchdowns. He does have 12 interceptions, but the better the run game is, the less likely they are to throw. Sioux Falls wins this 41-28. The winner of this game will face either Central Missouri or Harding.

#6 Central Missouri (9-2) at #3 Harding (11-0)

Game Time: 2 PM Eastern

Central Missouri’s two losses this season came to fellow playoff teams. They lost at home to Emporia State 37-31 in double overtime and they were drubbed the following week by Northwest Missouri State 42-17. Harding had little trouble with their opponents with only 1 game decided by a touchdown or less.

Harding sports one of the better defense in Division 2 allowing only 11.2 points per game and 227.8 yards per contest. They give up just 69.7 rushing yards per game, which may spell trouble for Central Missouri because they average 169.1 yards per game on the ground.

Harding is going to try and shorten the game with their own ground attack. They have 7 different rushers with 300 yards or more on the season and go to the passing game only as a last resort. They have just 54 passing attempts on the year for 584 yards and 4 touchdowns. They average 388.5 yards per game on the ground while Central Missouri gives up 138.5 per game.

This game will come down to how well Harding runs the ball. If they get the run game going then it will be game over for Central Missouri. However, if Central Missouri can stop the run and obvious passing situations they have a chance. We will take Harding in this spot 28-21. The winner of this game faces either Asuza Pacific or Sioux Falls.

Super Regional Four (Grand Valley State)

#5 Colorado Mesa (9-2) at #4 Texas A&M-Commerce (9-1)

Game Time: 3 PM Eastern

Colorado Mesa has some big wins this year: Colorado Mines (41-40 in 2 overtimes), Colorado State-Pueblo (20-19), and Azusa Pacific (33-24). They also own two losses to Black Hill State (48-34) and Dixie State (38-31) with both of those teams finishing above .500.

Texas A&M-Commerce’s lone loss was a 26-25 heartbreaker to Midwestern State when they blew a 12 point lead in the final 3:30 and gave up the game winning touchdown with 28 seconds left.

As with most 4-5 matchups, this is a toss up. Both teams put up over 40 points a game, but defense is where the advantage is for Commerce. Mesa gives up 30.7 points per game and 463.3 yards per game while Commerce allows only 18.2 points and 381.1 yards per game. For that reason, we are going with Commerce to take this game 34-21. The winner of this game will play #1 Grand Valley State in Round 2.

#7 Midwestern State (8-2) at #2 Ferris State (9-2)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

Midwestern State has that big win over Texas A&M-Commerce, but also lost to West Texas A&M (35-27) and Eastern New Mexico (30-28). They will also be traveling all the way to Michigan for this contest.

Ferris State has two losses to two very good teams. They lost at home to playoff snub Ashland 39-31 and to top regional seed Grand Valley State 35-23 on the road. The duo of quarterback Reggie Bell (1,081 yards and 15 touchdowns) and running Jahaan Brown (824 yards and 7 touchdowns) will lead the ground game. Bell also has 2,046 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions through the air.

We will take Ferris State to win this game 31-21 due to that rushing attack. Midwestern State allows 200 yards per game on the ground while Ferris State averages 267.4 yards per game rushing on offense. That is a recipe for success for Ferris State. The winner of this game will play either Colorado Mines or Southwest Baptist in Round 2.

#6 Colorado Mines (9-2) at #3 Southwest Baptist (10-1)

Game Time: 2 PM Eastern

Colorado Mines had back-to-back losses against Colorado Mesa (41-40 in double overtime) and Western State (45-31) before winning their final 7 games. Southwest Baptist’s lone blemish was a 26-16 loss at home to Truman State. Outside of that game, they were pretty dominant to end the season.

This will probably a high-scoring game because both teams have good offenses and mediocre defenses. As such, it makes it difficult to pick a winner, but we will go with Colorado Mines to win 52-48 though the outcome could easily flip. The winner of this game will play either Midwestern State or Ferris State.

Check back next week for the NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff Predictions for Round 2.

Visits: 22

Northwest Missouri State Dominates Shepherd For Title

Northwest Missouri State dominated Shepherd 34-7 to win their 5th Division 2 Football National Championship (Brian Davidson/Kansas City Star)
Northwest Missouri State dominated Shepherd 34-7 to win their 5th Division 2 Football National Championship (Brian Davidson/Kansas City Star)

Northwest Missouri State Dominates Shepherd For Title

The Northwest Missouri State Bearcats have won their fifth Division 2 National Championship after crushing the Shepherd Rams 34-7. The defense recorded 10 sacks against Jeff Ziemba and stifled the Rams offensively.

The game could not have started any worse for Shepherd and any better for Northwest Missouri State. The first play from scrimmage for Shepherd resulted in a high snap over Ziemba’s head and was recovered by Northwest Missouri State’s Cass Weitl. Two plays later, Jordan Grove had an easy 1 yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 just 47 seconds into the game.

The Rams had a nice start to their next drive with Ziemba connecting on a 37 yard pass to Billy Brown, but the drive stalled after that big play. The Bearcats would lose a fumble on the next drive, but Shepherd could not take advantage going three and out. The next drive for Shepherd had promise with the Rams driving to the Northwest Missouri State 35 yard line. However, one of the Bearcats’ 10 sacks, this one by Collin Bevins, forced a punt.

The Rams had great field position again on the following drive after forcing the Bearcats to punt from their own four yard line. Once again, Bevins sacked Ziemba for a loss and led to a punt. The Bearcats offense would finally get the big play with Brady Bolles finding Jordan Grove wide open beyond the safety for a 76 yard pass play. Bolles would finish the drive with a play action pass to Shane Williams from a yard out for a 14-0 lead.

The Bearcats got the ball back with over 4 minutes remaining in the first half and were able to drive for a field goal to make it 17-0. The Bearcats would have been content with that lead, but a big return on the ensuing kickoff by Ben Trewyn gave Shepherd a good opportunity for points. That ended quickly as Ziemba’s pass was picked off by Bryce Enyard and returned 59 yards for a touchdown. The Bearcats led 24-0 at half and they did not let off the gas in the second half.

Northwest Missouri State marched down the field to start the second half, but missed a 39 yard field goal. That gave some momentum to Shepherd, which turned that miss into a touchdown with Ziemba and Brown connecting on a 21 yard score. That made it 24-7, but the Bearcats put together a 5 minute drive that resulted in a 22 yard field goal by Simon Mathiesen to make it 27-7. The defense came up with another third down sack to prevent any chance of the Shepherd offense scoring on back-to-back possessions.

The Northwest Missouri State offense salted the game away and went up 34-7 thanks to another 1 yard touchdown by Jordan Grove. Grove had 3 rushes on the game for only 2 yards, but two of those carries went for touchdowns. He also had a 45 yard pass completion to Dre Washington to set up the field position that led to the 22 yard field goal. Then there was his receiving stats, which were 5 catches for 104 yards.

The duo of Phil Jackson (21 carries for 109 yards) and Cameron Wilcox (12 carries for 58 yards) led the rushing attack for the Bearcats. Brady Bolles went 20 of 27 for 233 yards and a touchdown while Shawn Bane was the second leading receiver with 6 grabs for 64 yards. Northwest Missouri State had 462 yards of offense and went 7 of 14 on third down.

Shepherd could not get much going on offense as noted by their 97 total yards of offense. They had 136 yards passing from Jeff Ziemba, who was playing through an injured AC joint, but finished with negative 39 yards rushing thanks to all the sacks. Allen Cross was the top rusher for the Rams with 11 carries for 27 yards while Billy Brown was easily the top receiver with 6 catches for 95 yards and the lone Shepherd touchdown. The Rams went 3 of 12 on third down and finished with only 7 first downs for the entire game.

The Bearcats had 10 total sacks in the game with Collin Bevins leading the way with 4 of his own. Brock Sherman and Jacob Vollstedt each had two while Brandon Yost and Nicholas Turner had one apiece.

This was the first appearance in the Division 2 National Championship game for Shepherd while Northwest Missouri State was making their ninth appearance. The Bearcats have won 3 of the last 7 Division 2 National Titles after also winning in 2009 and 2013. They are currently the winningest team in Division 2 in terms of National Championships while North Dakota State also has five but play at the FCS level. Head coach Adam Dorrel was in charge of the 2013 squad and has now won two National Titles.

Visits: 6

2015 NCAA Division 2 National Championship Preview

NCAA Football logo

2015 NCAA Division 2 National Championship Preview

Just two teams remain standing in the 2015 NCAA Division 2 football season. Shepherd and Northwest Missouri State both enter this game undefeated and one of them will come up just short of their goal for the 2015 season. This game will be played at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas at 4 PM Eastern Time and can be seen on ESPN2 Saturday, December 19. An updated bracket can be found here.

We have made predictions for every round of the 2015 NCAA Division 2 Playoffs and have been slightly above .500. The record in round one was 6-6, the second round produced a 6-2 record, the Quarterfinals provided a 2-2 record, and we went 1-1 in the Semifinals. The overall record is 15-11 heading into the Division 2 National Championship.

Below is the 2015 NCAA Division 2 National Championship Preview as well as a prediction for the game.

Shepherd Road To The National Championship

Round 1: Bye

Round 2: Defeated Indiana (PA) 17-13 at home

Quarterfinals: Defeated Slippery Rock 28-16 at home

Semifinals: Defeated Grand Valley State 34-32 at home

Shepherd Rams Preview

As noted above, each team had a bye before playing three straight home games. Shepherd had the tougher time in the three games with all games relatively close. They had to survive against Grand Valley State after leading 34-19 with 6 minutes left to play. A tip by the defensive lineman on the two point pass allowed the Rams to hang on for the win.

Shepherd enters this game 13-0 on the season while averaging nearly 40 points and 417 yards per game on offense. The Rams have scored at least 40 points on 9 different occasions in 2015, but they have not scored more than 35 points in their three playoff contests. The offense converts on 48% of their third down attempts (86 of 179) and have converted on 52 of their 59 red zone trips (88%).

The quarterback situation is a bit uncertain for Shepherd. Jeff Ziemba is the usual starter, but he was hurt on the Rams’ first possession in the Semifinals and did not return. In his absence, Connor Jessop came in and went 15 of 20 for 173 yards with 2 touchdowns and no picks. The running game will be led by the duo of Allen Cross and Jabre Lolley. Cross has ran for 989 yards with 10 touchdowns while Lolley has 670 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Those two may be leaned on again if Ziemba cannot start.

The top receiving threat for the Rams is Billy Brown who has 83 catches for 1,397 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2015. The second leading receiver, Tony Squirewell, has a steep drop off in production with 49 catches for 659 yards and 6 touchdowns. Dalton Boyd has only 4 catches for 52 yards in the Playoffs, but has shown the ability to pop up with a solid game during the season.

The defense gives up an average of 17.7 points per game as they have allowed 17 points or less in 8 different games. They have intercepted 16 passes and recovered 10 fumbles, which is 2 turnovers forced per game. The defense allows just under 300 yards per game at 298.4 yards and does a great job on third down allowing only a 29% conversion rate. The red zone defense has been decent allowing only 30 trips, but giving up 19 touchdowns on those trips.

The leading tackler for Shepherd has been Keon Robinson with 79 total tackles, but a trio of other players could wreak havoc. Shanell Jenkins leads the team with 22 tackles for loss including 12.5 sacks. Myles Humphrey (5 sacks) and Isaiah Ross (6.5 sacks) both have 12 tackles for loss apiece. Adam Coles is the top defensive back with 5 interceptions and is third on the team in pass breakups with 10.

Shepherd gave up a season high in passing yardage last week with 334 yards and 3 touchdowns to Grand Valley State. Their third highest total was also in the Playoffs in the Quarterfinal game against Slippery Rock with 253 yards and one touchdown through the air.

The special teams will be led by kicker Ryan Earls who is 18 of 23 on the season with a long of 41 yards. He has had only 1 kick blocked and also performs the kick off duties.

Northwest Missouri State Road To The National Championship

Round 1: Bye

Round 2: Defeated Humboldt State 54-7 at home

Quarterfinals: Defeated Emporia State 38-17 at home

Semifinals: Defeated West Georgia 38-23 at home

Northwest Missouri State Bearcats Preview

Northwest Missouri State had easy wins in the first two games, but nearly blew a 24-6 halftime lead against West Georgia. They lead 24-23 with 4:30 left in the game before a quick strike on offense and a pick six on defense sealed their trip to Kansas City.

Northwest Missouri State is 14-0 heading into the National Championship with the offense putting up 42 points and 438 yards per game. The offense scored put up at least 38 points 9 times in 2015 including all three games in the playoffs. The offense converts 46% of their third downs (106 of 229) and has 75 trips inside the red zone. They have converted 69 of those 75 trips (92%) with 48 of those going for touchdowns.

The offense is headed by Brady Bolles at quarterback. He has thrown for 3,748 yards with 29 touchdowns, but also has been picked off 9 times. In the three playoff contests, Bolles has thrown for 840 yards with 7 touchdowns against one interception. Bolles can take off when need, as shown by his 100 rushing attempts for 235 yards and 7 touchdowns, but his first choice is to pass.

Phil Jackson leads the team in rushing on the season with 842 yards and 14 touchdowns on 170 carries, but has not been as effective in the Playoffs with 41 carries for 153 yards and 3 touchdowns in the 3 games. Cameron Wilcox is the second leading rusher with 398 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the Playoffs, he has 29 carries for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns despite seeing less action than Jackson.

The top Bearcat receiver is Shawn Bane with 1,143 yards and 8 touchdowns on 76 receptions. The second third, and fourth leading receivers all have similar stats around 500 yards. George Sehl has 29 catches for 517 yards and 7 touchdowns, Shane Williams has 34 catches for 513 yards, and Jordan Grove has 42 grabs for 493 yards and 7 touchdowns. Even Clayton Wilson (32 catches for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns) and Dre Washington (27 catches for 250 yards) can come off the sideline and be part of the passing game.

Northwest Missouri State’s strength is on defense as they have allowed less than 13 points per game including 8 games where they have surrendered 13 points or less. The rush defense is where the Bearcats are strongest giving up only 66 yards per game while the total defense allowed per game is at 233. The Bearcats allow opposing offenses to convert only 24% of their third downs and only 23 red zone trips the entire season. However, of those 23 trips, they have allowed scores on 21 of those 23 trips.

The Bearcats defense also likes to force turnovers. They have recorded 25 interceptions with three of those returned for touchdowns. Kevin Berg has 8 of those picks while he recorded six interceptions in a three game stretch in October. 15 fumbles have also been recovered by the Bearcats.

Jacob Vollstedt has been a tackling machine for the defense with 110 total tackles including 15 for loss and 11 sacks. Collin Bevins leads the team with 22.5 tackles for loss with 11.5 sacks, Brandon Yost has 16.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, and Brock Sherman has 13 tackles for loss with one sack. Cass Weitl has managed to record 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks as well.

The Northwest Missouri State defense has allowed some passing yardage in the Playoffs in their last two games. Against Emporia State in the Quarterfinals, they gave up 324 yards and a touchdown as well as 93 yards and a score on the ground. Against West Georgia last week, they allowed 289 yards and 2 touchdowns and 104 yards on the ground. The majority of West Georgia’s yardage came in the second half after trailing by three scores.

Simon Mathiesen has connected on 23 of 28 field goals for Northwest Missouri State with a long of 46 yards and no field goals blocked.

Prediction

There are stark differences between these two programs in the National Championship. Shepherd has never made the Championship Game prior to this year with their best finish being in the Semifinals back in 2010. However, Shepherd has only been in Division 2 Football since 1994.

Northwest Missouri State has won 4 National Championships in 1998, 1999, 2009, and 2013. They have also played in four other National Championships (2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008) but lost each of those four contests by a touchdown or less.

What makes this game interesting is that Shepherd may or may not have their starting quarterback. If Shepherd tries to rely on their run game to open up the passing lanes, then Northwest Missouri State could have strong success. However, Shepherd may be able to pass the ball even without Ziemba. The offense for Northwest Missouri State should be able to have success as well led by their passing game and Brady Bolles. The run game, while not the best, could come in handy on short yardage plays.

We will take Northwest Missouri State to win the 2015 NCAA Division 2 National Championship by a score of 34-21.

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2015 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff Semifinal Predictions

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2015 NCAA Division 2 Football Playoff Semifinal Predictions

We have reached the final four teams for the 2015 NCAA Division 2 Playoffs. Both Semifinal games will be played on Saturday, December 12 with the winners facing off for the 2015 NCAA Division 2 National Championship. The schedule can be found here and the updated bracket is here.

In round one we went 6-6 with our predictions while we went 6-2 in the second round. In the Quarterfinals, we went back to .500 with a 2-2 record and stand at 14-10 for the Division 2 Playoffs thus far. Both games are predicted below.

Grand Valley State (12-2) at Shepherd (12-0)

Grand Valley State has delivered surprise after surprise in the Playoffs. They opened with a big win over Ashland on the road 45-28 in the first round with 230 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns as a team along with 231 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions from Bart Williams. They won their second round game as well on the road, defeating Ferris State 38-34 after a back and forth game that saw Williams throw 4 touchdown passes.

The latest game was probably their most impressive as they crushed the defending National Champions, Colorado State Pueblo, 31-7 on the road. GVSU led 21-0 after the first quarter and 31-7 at half while holding CSU Pueblo to just 157 yards of offense. Grand Valley State racked up 527 yards on one of the better defense in Division 2 with Marty Carter rushing for 231 yards and a touchdown.

Shepherd started with a bye as the top team in their region and then faced Indiana (PA) in the second round. Shepherd erased a 13-3 deficit to start the fourth quarter with two touchdowns in the final 12:13 including the game winner with 2:03 left in the game. Shepherd’s Quarterfinal game was at home against Slippery Rock where they gave up an early touchdown, but ripped of 25 straight points to take command of the game at 25-7 late in the third quarter. Slippery Rock did score 9 points to make it a 25-16 game entering the fourth quarter, but the defense came up big to stop anymore scoring from happening. Jeff Ziemba threw for 255 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception in the Quarterfinal win.

What Grand Valley State has done thus far makes them not only the biggest surprise, but also the most impressive team. They will have a fourth straight road game, but that has clearly not been an issue for them. Shepherd has not allowed more than 20 points in their last five games and the defense has played well in the two Playoff games. After going against GVSU for the first three rounds, we will take them to win on the road 23-20 and make it to the 2015 Division 2 National Championship Game.

West Georgia (12-1) at Northwest Missouri State (13-0)

West Georgia was the top seed in their region, which means they had a bye in the first round. In the second round, they played against Valdosta State at home and had a tough time against them. Dallas Dickey’s 9 yard run with 3:09 remaining made it 27-20 while the defense put the VSU offense on its heels on the next drive and forced a turnover on downs to win the game. West Georgia ran for 292 yards and 2 touchdowns on 44 carries as a team with Devontae Jackson (120 yards and a touchdown), Dallas Dickey (100 yards and a touchdown), and Lamarcus Franks (71 yards) all having solid days on the ground.

In the Quarterfinals, West Georgia gave up an early touchdown to Tuskegee after a fumble, but that was all Tuskegee would score as West Georgia put up 35 unanswered points to end the game at 35-6. Dickey threw for 398 yards and 3 touchdowns while the defense allowed only 146 yards of total offense for the entire game.

Northwest Missouri State also had a bye in the first round and then faced Humboldt State at home in the second round. The Bearcats had no trouble as they led 34-0 at half and won 54-7. The defense allowed 72 yards passing and negative 24 yards rushing for a grand total of 48 yards of offense to Humboldt State. Brady Bolles threw for 276 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 of 33 passing while the team ran for 187 yards and 4 scores on the ground.

The Bearcats faced a familiar foe in Emporia State for the Quarterfinals, but they were dispatched as well. NWMSU led 17-0 before Emporia State scored, however, each ESU score was answered by a NWMSU score and the Bearcats cruised to a 38-17 win. Bolles had 329 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air. The Bearcats did allow over 400 yards of offense to Emporia State (Brent Wilson threw for 324 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another score).

This game will most likely be a defensive battle, which favors the Bearcats at home. They are one of the best teams (if not the best to some) in the nation and they are heavily favored to win. We are going with them to win 31-7 and make it back the Division 2 National Championship.

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