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Do you have that favorite restaurant that you like to frequent? And you usually order the same thing off the menu each time you go because you know it will leave you satisfied?

Bloomsburg football is kind of like that favorite restaurant. Solid. Dependable. Consistent. You always know what you are going to get.

Over the last 15 years the Huskies have won at least seven games each season. They have consistently been in the running for the PSAC East division and overall titles. They have made eight playoff appearances in those 15 years and managed to reach the national championship game in 2000.

The Huskies are a program that you can count on to field a very sound defense each season. You can also count on them to have great running backs. The graduation of 2013 Harlon Hill Trophy winner Franklyn Quiteh was no big deal for this program, they just plug in Eddie Mateo (949 rushing yards, 20 touchdowns) into the starting role this fall and keep marching on.

But what the Huskies have not been over the last 15 years is great. Only twice has BU managed to win the region- and both of those years didn’t end on a good note as they were throttled by 29 points in the 2000 national championship game loss to Delta State and by 30 points to Northwest Missouri in the 2006 semifinals. There have been many other tough playoff losses and years where a late regular season loss kept the team out of the playoffs.

One of those tough playoff losses occurred last year, when the Huskies lost in the second round 40-38 to PSAC East rival West Chester, a team that BU had beaten just three weeks earlier. But BU had a rematch with WCU last week and pounded the previously unbeaten Rams by a score of 41-10. As one of just two unbeaten teams remaining in Super Region One, the Huskies have to be looked at as a favorite to advance out of the region.

Could this be the year when Bloomsburg football advances beyond the point of being comparable to that nice meal at a favorite restaurant and instead becomes like the 5-course meal at a gourmet steakhouse? It will be interesting to see if this is the year that Bloomsburg can become one of the elite teams in D2 football.

Observations from around the Country

-The first set of regional rankings is due to be released this week. As I have preached in past years, don’t put too much stock into them until we get down to the final week of the regular season as there are too many moving parts at this point.

-Another long in-conference winning streak was broken when Henderson State lost to Harding 28-24 on a touchdown in the final seconds last week. HSU had won 30 straight GAC games coming into the contest. HSU and Harding now each have one loss while Ouachita Baptist remains unbeaten. OBU and HSU play on the final Saturday of the regular season.

-Colorado State-Pueblo (7-1) held the Colorado Mines (7-1) offense more than 200 yards and 30 points below their season averages in a key 20-12 victory. The win puts CSU-Pueblo in a tie atop the RMAC standings with the Orediggers but most importantly sets them up to make a fourth straight playoff appearance if they can win out.

-Defending national runner up Lenoir-Rhyne is quietly having another very good season. In fact, the Bears average about five points more per game than they did a year ago and give up five points less. The Bears have a tough test with conference rival Carson-Newman this week but if they can win and reach the playoffs, I have to like their chances of going far again this year.

-Find a way to win: that has been the theme for 7-0 North Alabama so far this fall. Despite allowing 287 rushing yards and turning the ball over four times, the Lions managed to beat West Georgia 31-28 last week on a Luke Wingo touchdown pass with 44 seconds remaining. It was UNA’s third win of the season by three points or less.

-Ferris State went on the road to unbeaten Michigan Tech last Saturday and pounded the Huskies by a score of 37-3. The impressive win further solidifies my opinion that the Bulldogs are the best team in D2 football so far this fall.

-Texas A&M-Commerce lost 40-37 in overtime to Midwestern State last week. This really puts the pressure on TAMUC to win the LSC “tournament” over the last two weeks of the regular season because another loss by the Lions would leave every team in the conference with at least two D2 losses, which may make it difficult for anyone in the league to get into the playoffs.

Top Games this Week

Gannon (6-2) at California (7-1)

California can clinch the PSAC West title and earn a rematch with Bloomsburg in the PSAC championship game with a win over Gannon this week. Gannon has been the more explosive team this year, but the Golden Knights have been inconsistent at times, which has led to the two losses. Cal isn’t spectacular on either side of the football but finds ways to win. This should be an interesting game. California 28 Gannon 27

Lenoir-Rhyne (8-0) at Carson-Newman (6-1)

Both of these teams have been very successful offensively because they are prolific running the football in their option based offenses. But the difference is the LRU is much, much better on defense. The Bears give up just 13 points per game while the Eagles have yielded 33 or more in five different games. Lenoir-Rhyne 40 Carson-Newman 24

East Stroudsburg (6-2) at Bloomsburg (8-0)

ESU’s surprising loss to Kutztown last Saturday certainly removes some of the luster from this game, but ESU always remains a threat to pull off an upset due to quarterback Matt Soltes (2778 passing yards, 30 touchdowns) and the high scoring ESU offense. The problem the Warriors are going to run into is that they can’t stop the run, and that’s never a good situation to be in against Bloomsburg. Bloomsburg 42 East Stroudsburg 24

Sioux Falls (8-0) at Minnesota State (8-0)

This is the game of the year in the NSIC. These two teams rank first and second in the league in both scoring offense and defense. Both teams are balanced offensively and can force turnovers. I give MSU a slight advantage as the Mavericks are the more experienced team and playing at home. This should be a great game. Minnesota State 27 Sioux Falls 23

North Alabama (7-0) at Delta State (6-1)

The Statesmen are the only thing left standing between UNA and a conference title. As I mentioned earlier, the Lions have been winning close games and have been fairly consistent. DSU has been more explosive offensively and just as good if not better than UNA on defense. All things being equal I think the Statesmen have to be a slight favorite at home but this game will probably come down to turnovers. Delta State 31 North Alabama 27

Mailbag

[Q] Do you consider Ken Sparks to be the best coach in D2 history?

Ron

[A] No doubt that Sparks has had a great career with 324 victories. But if I had to pick one coach as the best it would have to be Mel Tjeerdsma. Three national championships and seven appearances in the finals over a 17-year span at Northwest Missouri are hard to argue with. And although Tjeerdsma may have had more resources to work with at NWMSU than Sparks does at C-N, Tjeerdsma also played in a much tougher conference and had to completely rebuild a program that hadn’t had much previous success.

[Q] All ten teams in the first Super Region Three regional ranking have zero or one loss. Do you think we are going to see a scenario where some 10-1 teams don’t make the playoffs from this region?

Brad

[A] Yes, I think it is very likely, especially since there are only two games remaining where teams in the top ten of this region play each other. It is a possibility that there could be two unbeaten teams and eight one-loss teams in this region if everything worked out. Now I don’t expect that to happen as there will likely be an upset or two along the way, but I think the chances are high that there will be seven or eight teams with one loss or less at the end of the regular season.

Contact Me

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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