Sept. 16, 2005


By Brad Dopke

Special to CSTV.com from College Sports Report




As odd as it seems, we are going to see a few games sprinkled about D-II that will have huge impact on the playoffs. True, this is only the fourth week of football for the Division, but already a few teams find themselves in a win or else scenario when it comes to post-season hopes.



NORTHEAST



It's been a while since a rep from the WVIAC made an appearance in the postseason, but that is looking to change this year. Monte Cater has his Shepherd Rams playing awesome football right now, and with wins over Virginia State (24-6), Shippensburg (34-32) and Slippery Rock (24-7), Shepherd could easily find itself in the midst of a playoff run.



However, first things first, as Glenville State will be awaiting the undefeated Rams this Saturday. Glenville's only loss to date was a one-point decision to Millersville in the second week. Seeing at how top heavy the PSAC is, it seems that Glenville's only hopes for the post-season is by running the table in the WVIAC.



There is another game in the Northeast region with huge playoff bearing implications when Bentley visits Merrimack on Saturday night. Like Glenville, Bentley will have to win out and capture the Northeast Ten title if it is to see any play in the post-season. However, the Falcons have tasted tough competition in the conference with a 33-24 win over Southern Connecticut.



Merrimack was lucky to slip past an improved Bryant club in overtime, 41-40. Still, the Warriors have an awesome weapon in receiver Elfren Quiles, who leads the Division in receptions per game with 20 for 307 yards in just two games.



Northeast Leaders: East Stroudsburg leads the Division in passing with a whopping average of 422 yards per game. Meanwhile, Edinboro has done it with defense, holding opponents to just 59 yards rushing in two games. Ironically, offense topped defense, as ESU defeated Edinboro 23-21 earlier this year.



SOUTHEAST



Expect plenty of fireworks when Delta State travels to North Alabama for a crucial Gulf South showdown. DSU (2-1) knows how to play on the road, having opened the season at Pitt State with a decisive 44-31 win. Although the Statesmen fell to I-AA Texas State the following week, they were tied 25-25 going into the fourth quarter before dropping a 32-25 decision.



There is a key match up within that contest that will pit Delta State's talented quarterback Scott Eyster against UNA's Division II leading defense. Seven points is all North Alabama has surrendered for the season while DSU has topped 40 twice in three games.



Presbyterian gave D-II a win over a D-I when the Blue Hose took the whipping stick to Charleston Southern, 42-0. Things will get a bit tougher for Presby when the Hose pay a visit to the SoCon's Elon College this Saturday.



Now although this game has little direct meaning to the post-season chances, a win by Presby will go a long way in establishing the SAC teams within the region. Although NCC fans would argue otherwise, right now there may not be a more competitive conference top to bottom than the South Atlantic. Of the SAC's five losses, two have come against I-AA competition, and both of those were competitive games. Of the three remaining losses, all have been to D-II teams currently undefeated.



Southeast Leaders: Catawba leads the nation in pass efficiency defense, having given up a grand total of 126 yards in three games while intercepting 5 of 52 passes thrown and allowing only 20 completions. North Alabama leads D-II in Total Defense, giving up a mere 226 yards in two games for a 113-ypg average.



MIDWEST



Two games featuring four undefeated teams highlight a most important week in the GLIAC when Findlay (3-0) travels to Saginaw Valley State (2-0) and Grand Valley State (3-0) heads over to Ashland (3-0).



Sophomore running back Marcus Crawford has been brilliant for Findlay's Oilers, gaining 333 yards rushing in the season to date. However, standing in Crawford's way will be Saginaw linebacker John DiGiorgio, who has tallied 20 solo tackles in just two games. Findlay was fortunate to enter the game undefeated after having survived a double-overtime ordeal over Northern Michigan, 40-37.



Meanwhile, Grand Valley State will be hoping its junior running back, Astin Martin, will be tuned up and ready to go at Ashland. Both have had common opponents in Ferris State and Gannon. GVSU beat both by a combined 91-20 while Ashland disposed of the two by a combined 51-21 mark.



Midwest leaders: South Dakota leads the nation with an average of 657 yards of offense in its three games. The Coyotes also lead the Division in rushing (385 yards per game) and scoring (65.3 points per game). Grand Valley State's Scott Greene leads the nation in field goals, having converted eight of his nine attempts.



WEST



Like the GLIAC, the MIAA has more than a few teams in a pair of crucial contests this Saturday. First is a conference tilt when Northwest Missouri State squares off against Missouri Western. Both teams enter with one loss on the season and can ill afford another mark against them. NWMSU is more fortunate as its loss came against non-conference at Nebraska-Omaha (28-23) while Western is coming off a 48-30 loss to Pitt State.



This game will feature a pair of fantastic running backs in Xavier Omon (NWMSU) and Jeremiah White (MWSU). White has been especially active, averaging a powerful 152 yards per game on the ground.



In another crucial West region game, Washburn takes its perfect record on the road to Ellensburg, Washington and a tilt with Central Washington. Washburn is no stranger to travel, having started the season with a 28-17 win in Golden, Colorado against Colorado Mines.



CWU already has a pair of losses on the season, both to NCC powers North Dakota (44-20) and Nebraska-Omaha (28-21). It's more than likely that Central would see its post-season hopes hit the trash heap with another loss. CWU's only win on the season was a 56-0 rout of Montana Western.



West Leaders: West Texas A&M's Keon Gaither leads the nation with seven interceptions in three games. With two games under his belt, Tarleton State's running back, Derrick Ross leads D-II with 187.5 yards rushing per game.