November 17th, 2022 9:00pm
Congratulations to Pittsburg State and Northwest Missouri on making the Division II Playoffs. I know Emporia State is disappointed in how their regular season ended but the Hornets got an invite to the Live United Bowl in Texarkana, Arkansas on December 3rd. I will preview that game in a future column. But first, let’s take a look at all the teams playing in the Division II Playoffs this Saturday, starting with Super Region Three. I did a stat comparison for all 12 games.
Super Region 3:
In the first game of the region, I do not see Ferris State having much trouble with Davenport in the rematch. Davenport struggled mightily on offense in the first game. But now it is time to break down the two big MIAA games this week.
#17 Indianapolis at #4 Pittsburg State
First ever meeting.
Indianapolis secured a playoff spot and won the GLVC regular season championship with the season final win over Truman State. In the past the GLVC has struggled in the playoffs. Indianapolis has been the most successful of the GLVC teams over the last 10 years with a 2-6 playoff record including a win over Fort Hays in 2018. In this particular matchup, I love the Pittsburg State’s front seven against the running game of Indianapolis. If the Gorillas can jump out to an early lead, I do not see Indianapolis being able to mount a comeback. Pittsburg State has done a great job limiting turnovers this year with only 10 giveaways on the year. Indianapolis has forced a Division II best 28 turnovers this season. If Pittsburg State can take care of the ball, they win this game going away. One thing that does concern me with Pittsburg State is that the offense is extremely boom or bust. The offense can disappear for a quarter or more. Indianapolis scores late to make the score closer than the game actually was.
Pittsburg State 30 Indianapolis 23
#10 Northwest Missouri (9-2) at #3 Ouachita Baptist (11-0)
First ever meeting.
Northwest Missouri scratched and crawled their way into the postseason for the 18th consecutive season. The Bearcats reward is a trip down to Arkadelphia to take on undefeated Ouachita Baptist. This is one of the best matchup Northwest Missouri could have asked for in the playoffs, stylistically that is. Ouachita Baptist is a run heavy team with a defense that bends but does not break. If there is one thing a Rich Wright coached team is going to do, it is stop the run. Ouachita Baptist did a nice job through the air in the comeback win over a good Henderson State team last week, but the Tigers want to run the ball with their stud running back TJ Cole. Cole has rushed for 1,630 yards and 26 touchdowns this year and 3,946 yards and 49 touchdowns in his impressive career. The Tigers love to run the wildcat with Cole and force you to stop them. Third down is always important but it is something I am keeping a close eye on in this game. Ouachita Baptist converts 50.8% of their third downs while Northwest Missouri only allows a conversion on 30.5% of third down attempts. On the other side of the ball, is Mike Hohensee healthy enough to play and play effectively? The Ouachita Baptist defense will allow yards but keeps teams off the scoreboard. The Bearcats have been good in the red zone this year and if they can get down there will need to convert on those opportunities. The freshman Jay Harris runs hard and the decision to pull his redshirt has helped the Bearcats’ running game improve late in the year. The last key to this game is turnovers. The Tigers are +9 on the year while the Bearcats are -7. The Bearcats cannot afford to lose the turnover margin on the road against one of the best teams in Division II. The Bearcats keep the score low and Cole Lammels makes a walkoff field goal.
Northwest Missouri 20 Ouachita Baptist 17
Super Region 1:
Give me Shepherd, Slippery Rock and Ashland in the first round games.
Super Region 2:
I love Delta State and West Florida to cruise in the first round, while Virgina Unions wins a slugfest.
I like all three home teams in this region in the first round.
I will do a review of the rest of the MIAA teams after the playoffs are over for the MIAA.