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This has been a tragic week. Midwestern State defensive back Robert Grays died on Tuesday as the result of a neck injury suffered in the final minutes of MSU’s 35-13 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville on Saturday.

Obviously everyone knows football is a dangerous sport. Players suffer injuries every Saturday on the football field. We have also been inundated with the talk about CTE over the last few years.

But this is different. This was a player dying directly as the result of an injury sustained on the field. That is scary.

My thoughts are with the Grays family and everyone involved with Midwestern State football. I cannot imagine what they must be going through.

News and Notes

-Southern Nazarene scored two touchdowns in the final 49 seconds of the game to shock Harding 28-27. Last season the Bisons beat SNU 63-7 and out gained them 478-61. After having the best season in school history last year, Harding now has an 0-3 record. Coming into this season SNU (2-1) was just 3-41 since joining the GAC.

-Another team off to a surprisingly good start after years of losing is Pace. The Setters are now 2-1 after beating American International by a score of 24-23 on Saturday. Pace had been just 4-78 since the start of the 2009 season.

-The Northwest Missouri State offense is still a work in progress. The Bearcats have had trouble moving the ball consistently and have scored just 33 points over the last two games. However, the Northwest defense is as good as ever. They allow just 177 yards per game and limited Nebraska-Kearney to 58 yards of offense on 60 plays last Saturday.

-Slippery Rock defensive end Marcus Martin broke the D2 career record for tackles for loss and sacks last Saturday. Martin had three tackles for loss and two sacks in his team’s win over Lock Haven, setting his career totals at 79.5 tackles for loss and 47 sacks. Martin is just seven sacks away from the NCAA career record for any division.

-After a bit of a slow start, Grand Valley running back Marty Carter broke out last week, rushing for 177 yards on just 16 carries in the Lakers* 42-7 win at Michigan Tech. The GVSU defense has also played much better after struggling in the season-opening loss to Indianapolis.

-Despite being out gained by a 545-291 margin, Tarleton State beat Angelo State 30-24. ASU committed five turnovers in the game, two of which were returned for scores.

Top Games this Week

Edinboro (2-1) at Indiana (3-0)

Edinboro is coming off a 62-28 thrashing at the hands of West Chester and it will not get easier this week visiting a strong IUP team. The Crimson Hawks average 262 yards per game on the ground and can hit you with a big pass play from Lenny Williams at any time. They play good defense as well.

Indiana 41 Edinboro 24

Albany State (2-1) at West Georgia (2-1)

Both teams will be trying to recover from their first loss of the season. The Wolves were shut down offensively in their 17-7 loss to Delta State last week and will need to figure out a way to move the ball more effectively against a pretty good Ram defense. This should be an interesting game.

West Georgia 23 Albany State 17

Central Missouri (2-1) at Emporia State (2-1)

The Mules have been a bit hard to figure out. They managed just six points in a loss at Fort Hays State two weeks ago, then erupted for 66 points in a win over a Missouri Western team that usually plays pretty good defense. Neither of these teams is that great defensively, so I would expect this to be entertaining.

Emporia State 38 Central Missouri 34

Ashland (2-1) at Ferris State (2-0)

The second-ranked Bulldogs have been an offensive machine, averaging 645 yards through two games. However, this will be their first real test against a team with a decent defense. Ashland senior quarterback Travis Tarnowski is off to a great start, as he averages 325 yards per game through the air and has a 201 pass efficiency rating. I do not know if the Eagles are good enough defensively to pull the upset, but I think they will score enough points to stay in the game.

Ferris State 38 Ashland 28

West Alabama (2-1) at North Alabama (1-1)

The GSC farewell tour continues for UNA as they host their old in-state rivals. The Tigers like to throw the football and they have been effective, averaging 43 points per game and 42 pass attempts per game from quarterback Harry Satterwhite. However, controlling the opponent’s passing game is what the Lions do best. It will be interesting to see if UNA can get its offense rolling this week.

North Alabama 30 West Alabama 21


[Q] I was wondering -academically speaking - which schools with D2 programs have the highest standards? FBS has Stanford, Notre Dame, Northwestern, etc.; FCS has the Ivy, Patriot, Colonial just to name a few conferences; and D3 has the NESCAC, Centennial, and a whole host of others. These are all schools/conferences with high academic standards and very high graduation rates. Which D2 football schools in your opinion fit that reputation? And which conferences in D2 football in your opinion seem to have the most academically proficient member institutions?

[A] There are not many schools playing D2 football that have elite academic reputations. The majority of the schools are regional public universities that at one time served as teachers* colleges and may have evolved beyond that over time. However, most do not serve the function in their state*s higher education system of being highly selective in the admission process.

There are three conferences in D2 that contain all or mostly private schools. Those would be the Northeast 10, SAC and GMAC. There are some good academic schools in these leagues, but certainly overall not to the level of some of the private FCS or D3 conferences.

The one niche D2 seems to have from an academic standpoint is that there are a few specialty engineering schools in D2 that are outstanding. Colorado Mines is consistently ranked among the top schools in the country when it comes to academic performance. Michigan Tech, Missouri S&T and South Dakota Mines are great as well.

I have always admired the work the coaches do at these types of institutions. They obviously are looking to recruit good football players like everyone else, but the potential recruits also have to have an interest in becoming engineers and be great students with the ability to handle the academic workload while playing a sport. In a sport like football where numbers are so important, it can be challenging to compete with other schools that do not have the same constraints.


Feel free to contact me at with any comments or criticisms or if you have a question you would like answered in the Mailbag.


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