The top six teams from each region at the end of the year will be playing in the NCAA Division II Playoffs, starting with the first round on Nov. 23 and the second round on Nov. 30.
The Delta State University Statesmen have made a great push as of late by winning their last three games and pushing their overall record to 6-2. They moved up one spot in the Super Two Region Poll to No. 7 and are tied for first place in the Gulf South Conference with West Alabama and North Alabama.
During their three game winning streak, the Statesmen have two wins over notable opponents as they defeated the Tarleton State University Texans 38-36 three weeks ago in Cleveland and the defending national champion Valdosta State University Blazers 63-55 last week in Cleveland. When DSU beat Tarleton State, the Texans were ranked No. 14 in the American Football Coaches Association Poll. The Blazers were ranked No. 22 in the D2football.com Poll. The Texans have gone on to clinch at least a share of the Lone State Conference Title.
One thing that helps the Statesmen is they are 3-1 against ranked teams in either AFCA Poll or the D2football.com Poll. The Statesmen also hold a 37-34 win over the North Alabama Lions, who was ranked No. 25 in the AFCA Poll, in Florence, Ala. on Sept. 21. DSU lost to the West Alabama Tigers in Livingston 48-14 in Livingston, Ala. on Oct. 3. At the time, West Alabama was ranked No. 14 in the AFCA Poll. On paper, the Statesmen look like they have a top six resume for the region but they still have to beat Concordia in Cleveland on Saturday and West Georgia in Carrollton, Ga. on Nov. 14 to make sure they stay in the hunt. If they can clinch at least a share of the GSC Title, the Statesmen’s chances of going to playoffs will be strengthened.
Three other GSC teams are ranked in the region are North Alabama (6-2, 4-1 GSC, No. 4 Super Two), West Alabama (6-3, 4-1 GSC, No. 6 Super Two) and Valdosta State (5-3, 3-3 GSC, No. 10 Super Two).
The GSC is clearly a conference that has beaten up on each other. North Alabama has moved up in recent weeks by winning its last five games. Among their wins, the Lions have defeated the Blazers 57-7 in Valdosta Ga. and West Alabama 30-27 in overtime last week. West Alabama, after starting the year 5-1, has dropped two of its last three games. North Alabama and West Alabama will each try to clinch shares of the GSC Title this weekend as North Alabama will travel to Melbourne, Fla. to play Florida Tech, while West Alabama will host Shorter on Saturday. West Alabama also has a game remaining against Central State in Livingston, while North Alabama has a game remaining against Tarleton State in Stephenville, Texas on Nov. 16.
The Blazers, who have lost to DSU, North Alabama and West Alabama, will try to keep its slim playoff chances alive as they host the University of North Carolina-Pembroke Braves, an independent school, in Valdosta Ga. on Thursday. Pembroke (7-1 overall) is ranked No. 3 in the Super Two Region Poll. The Pembroke Braves’ only loss was a 24-21 setback at the hands of Newberry on Oct. 26. After Thursday, Valdosta State will close the year out against Texas A&M Kingsville on Nov. 16.
In other games in the region on Saturday, No. 1 Lenoir-Rhyne (8-1), of the South Atlantic Conference, will battle Alderson Broaddus (4-4) in a non conference game, No. 2 Newberry College (8-1) and No. 8 Carson Newman (7-2) will take on each other in a South Atlantic Conference game and No. 5 Tuskegee (8-1) will take on No. 9 Miles College (5-3) in Southern Intercollegiate Athletic showdown.
Looking at the region schedule, nothing is sewn up as far as a playoff spot. Every one is trying to battle for position. There are no automatic playoff berths so every win is very important. As the season winds down, it will be very interesting to see who is left standing and who is left at home come postseason time.
Andy Collier is the sports editor at the Bolivar Commercial. He can be reached at (662)-843-4241 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Super Two Region Poll
RK Team D2 Overall
1 Lenoir-Rhyne 7-1 8-1
2 Newberry 8-1 8-1
3 UNC Pembroke 6-1 7-1
4 North Alabama 6-1 6-2
5 Tuskegee 7-1 8-1
6 West Alabama 5-2 6-3
7 Delta State 5-2 6-2
8 Carson-Newman 7-2 7-2
9 Miles 5-3 5-3
10 Valdosta State 5-3 5-3