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