The final weekend of the Division II season will take place on Saturday, meaning the playoff selections and pairings will come out Sunday.
There are a lot of interesting storylines forming, and a number of undefeated teams hoping to ride their wave of momentum through the playoffs for a chance to play at a new destination for the D-II title.
More on all of that below in our snapshot of the D-II landscape heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
10 undefeated teams heading into the final week: The Division II top 25 rankings, according to D2football.com [whose poll was last updated October 30th], are littered with undefeated teams. Included among them are; Minnesota State (1), Ferris State (2), West Georgia (3), Ouachita Baptist (4), Minnesota Duluth (6), Valdosta State (7), Tarleton State (10), West Chester (12), Notre Dame College (14), and LIU-Post (16).
How does the D-II playoff work again? The top 28 teams are divided into four Super Regions with 7 teams each. From there they are seeded and battle it out for the right to play at McKinney ISD Stadium – the new home of the Division II national title game.
What about the reigning champs?: Texas A&M Commerce, who won the Division II national title last year, is sitting at 8-2 heading into their final week of the regular season against 2-7 Permian Basin. NCAA.com has them sitting at #6 in their Super Region right now, which will make it an uphill battle to win a second straight title. Their opponent in that title game from last year, West Florida, is sitting at 6-4 doesn’t look like they’ll be making the playoffs.
Biggest one of the weekend: Undefeated #3 West Georgia (10-0) face off against #7 Valdosta State (9-0) for the GSC title this weekend in one of the most anticipated match ups in recent Division II history. Valdosta brings in one of the best offenses in all of college football, and this has the makings to be a special one.
The OTHER Notre Dame: As successful as the Fighting Irish have been at the major college level, Notre Dame College, located in South Euclid, OH is also enjoying a special 10-0 season. The Falcons are currently ranked first in their region, which is populated by three other undefeated teams, and they’ll be in the drivers seat of their region with a win over Seton Hill (D-II – PA) this weekend.
The coach of the year at the Division II level?: A number of guys are having really good seasons with their programs, but here are a few that stand out.
- Ferris State’s Tony Annese – In a short time in Big Rapids, Annese has built a national powerhouse program that has won three GLIAC titles in the past five seasons, made deep playoff runs, attracted some of the top talent in the country – including former Michigan State QB commit Jayru Campbell and former dual sport high school standout DeShaun Thrower who helped the Bulldogs reach the national semis in football last year and then led the basketball team to a national title. Annese and his staff have managed to develop a numbers of players who have gone on to play at the NFL talent since taking over and they’re consistently one of the top offensive teams in the country and most exciting teams to watch. The Bulldogs are 10-0 and hoping to avenge last season’s loss in the semis with a national title.
- Notre Dame College’s Mike Jacobs – After serving as the team’s defensive line coach and defensive coordinator, Jacobs was promoted to head coach in 2016 and immediately led the program to their best season in school history with a 9-2 finish. The next season they went 8-2 and finished second in the league, and Jacobs has his guys playing at a high level again this season with their undefeated start. Jacobs is leading one of just four programs in all of Division II that are 10-0 right now.
- New Haven’s Chris Pincince – Pincince, in his fifth season leading the program, has turned a 6-4 season in 2017 to an impressive 8-1 (and peffect 8-0 vs. D-II competition) season in 2018, with that lone loss coming to FCS Bryant by just 10 points in week 1. Since that point, The Chargers have found ways to win in both close games, while also dominating in a number of conference games as well. They face a big game this weekend against LIU Post, who is also undefeated and escaped last year with a 1-point win. The game will not only decide the NE-10 title, but also means a home playoff game (and a possible bye) is on the line.
A few interesting stats from around D-II:
- Minnesota Duluth’s stingy defense has allowed opponents to convert on just 29 of 133 3rd down attempts (22%).
- Virginia Union has blocked an unreal 13 kicks this season. The next closest? Albany State and Central Washington with 9.
- Hillsdale (MI) is averaging about 3 penalties per game.
- Fort Hays State is perfect (3/3) on their fourth down conversion attempts, while Pace (NY) is converting at a 90% clip (9/10)
- The Stonehill (PA) defense is allowing teams to convert on fourth downs 78% of the time (13/17)
- Indianapolis (IN) is averaging a whopping 32.4 yards per kickoff return.
- UVA-Wise has lost an incredible 19 fumbles this season.
Title game: The national championship game will take place December 15th at McKinney Stadium ISD, TX and the playoff selections and pairings will be announced Sunday November 11th.