October 28th, 2019 3:30pm
First regional rankings released
On Monday, the first round of regional rankings was released by the Division II championship committee. Here are the rankings for Super Region two, with D2 win-loss record in parenthesis.
Super region two is the only region with four 8-0 teams.
Here is a closer look at each of the teams currently ranked with my thoughts on their notable wins to date and an assessment of their prospects.
1. Valdosta State (8-0)
Notable wins: Albany State, Ohio Dominican, West Alabama, Delta State, Miss College
Remaining games: West Florida, at West Georgia
In a few words…The Blazers are the defending Division II national champions. They survived their closest call of the season last week at North Greenville, rallying for a 20-15 lead in the final minutes. That was the first time this year they were held under 34 points. They have an off week this coming weekend so should remain in the top spot but they do close out the season with tough games against West Florida and West Georgia. They haven’t lost in a long time, but those last two opponents will have something for them.
2. Lenoir-Rhyne (8-0)
Notable wins: Virginia Union, Carson-Newman
Remaining games: Wingate, UNCP, at Catawba
In a few words…Much like Valdosta State, the Bears survived their closest call of the year last weekend at Limestone. They’re a little shy on quality wins compared to Valdosta but the huge match up with Wingate is this Saturday. If they can win that one, I like their chances for an unbeaten regular season.
3. Bowie State (8-0)
Notable wins: Virginia State, Virginia Union
Remaining games: Lincoln (Pa), at Elizabeth City State, CIAA Championship
In a few words…The toughest part of the Bulldogs’ scheduled is behind them. They took care of Virginia State and Virginia Union in the last two weeks and can most likely be penciled in for the CIAA championship game. I don’t see Lincoln or ECSU having anything for them. They’ll be favored in the title, regardless of which team wins the south. Among the four 8-0 teams in SR2, they might have the best shot to finish unbeaten.
4. Wingate (8-0)
Notable wins: Fayetteville State, Carson-Newman
Remaining games: at Lenoir-Rhyne, Newberry, at Mars Hill
In a few words…I’m not shocked that Wingate was placed fourth among the undefeated teams. They’ve only faced two teams that currently have a winning record and a few recent opponents are boat anchors for the opponent winning percentage. Lenoir-Rhyne’s 8-0 record will help boost the OWP considerably. A win could bump them up to #2. With eight wins already on the board, they possibly stay in the top four even with a loss. The season closing game at Mars Hill could shape up to be a battle and Newberry is no pushover, regardless of record so there is still a lot to accomplish in order to secure a playoff spot.
5. West Florida (5-1)
Notable wins: Mississippi College, Delta State, West Georgia
Remaining games: North Greenville, at Valdosta State, West Alabama
In a few words…The Argos have an overall record of 6-1 but the victory over Virginia-Lynchburg is not a division II result and is not considered. To that end, I have a slight issue with them being ranked ahead of a team they lost to head to head. Carson-Newman is also a five win team against D2 competition and own the head to head win. That result matters and in may past instances, a head to head win can counter a superior record. In this case I think the wins over teams with .500 or better records was a factor. West Florida has three such wins, Carson-Newman was one.
6. Carson-Newman (5-2)
Notable wins: West Florida
Losses: Wingate, Lenoir-Rhyne
Remaining games: at Mars Hill, at Limestone, Tusculum
In a few words: The Eagles lost their two most important games but both teams remain 8-0 so they are helping the opponent winning percentage. Based on where they are now, the Eagles most likely control their own destiny. A final record of 8-2 should get them in. That said, Mars Hill is a formidable challenge and Tusculum is picking up momentum. Other than a flat performance several weeks ago, Limestone has been solid at home.
7. Virginia State (6-1)
Notable wins: Shaw
Losses: Bowie State
Remaining games: at Chowan, Virginia Union
In a few words…The Trojans are always a factor in the CIAA north but they lost the critical matchup with Bowie State and unless the Bulldogs have an unlikely slip-up, it will keep VSU from finding a way into the CIAA championship. They close the regular season with the critical rivalry game with Virginia Union. If they win the last two, they’ll be 8-1 against Division II. That wouldn’t necessarily lock them in, but they would be worthy contenders.
8. Mississippi College (4-2)
Notable wins: Albany State
Losses: West Florida, Valdosta State
Remaining games: at West Georgia, at West Alabama, Delta State
In a few words: The Choctaws have only four wins on the board right now but they do have some tough games coming up. While none of those remaining opponents are currently playoff contenders, all three are very talented football teams and two of those games are on the road. I don’t think they will win all three and one loss probably knocks them out. If they do win all three, they will deserve a shot.
9. Virginia Union (5-2)
Notable wins: Winston-Salem State
Losses: Lenoir-Rhyne, Bowie State
Remaining games: Elizabeth City State, Bowie State
In a few words…Unfortunately for the Panthers, their best win of the season – a victory at FCS Hampton in the opener – does not count in the Division II win-loss record. They were competitive with Lenoir-Rhyne but got blown out by Bowie State. They have to beat rival Virginia State to stay alive but getting into the CIAA title game would require an unlikely collapse from Bowie State. It will help them if Winston Salem State can keep their winning streak going to boost OWP and give them a win over a team with a winning record.
10.Albany State (5-3)
Notable wins: West Georgia, Tuskegee
Losses: Valdosta State, Mississippi College, Savannah State
Remaining games: Morehouse, Fort Valley State (neutral site), SIAC Championship
In a few words…Based on how things stand today, the SIAC would be shut out of the playoffs for a third straight year. Albany State is ranked, but divisional rival Fort Valley State is right behind them and Miles might be the best team in the SIAC. If any of those three win the remaining three games, I think they’ll have a strong chance of getting in.
Unranked teams with life
The following teams are not currently ranked by the committee but could sneak into the picture in the coming weeks.
Fayetteville State (6-2)
Their hopes took a huge hit with an unexpected loss to St. Augustine’s last week but they could make up for it by winning the CIAA championship. If that happens, you could see FSU jump all the way from unranked to in the field in the final week of the season.
Fort Valley State (6-1)
Their record is good but the schedule has been weak. They close with Albany State and if they get into the SIAC title game and win it, they’ll be in the conversation.
A two point loss on a muddy field last week dropped them in the list of contenders but if they can win the SIAC they’ll be in the mix. They have a huge meeting with Tuskegee next Saturday.
Mars Hill (5-2)
The Lions aren’t on anyone’s radar right now but a win over Carson-Newman this weekend would change that, and they still have Wingate in the season finale. They’re a longshot, but if they win the rest of the games, they would be worthy of consideration.
Delta State (4-3)
They have a decent chance to win-out. It may not be enough but craziness has been known to happen in the final weeks of the regular season.
As always, you can send questions or comments to me at [email protected] and you can connect with me on Twitter @D2Chuck. Follow my SAC Football photos page for updates and check out games from the past three seasons.