With another football season winding down in Division II football, a clear picture has formed that features the probable teams that have a chance to be selected to compete in the national playoffs that are slated to begin on Nov. 23.
Much different from Division I that only features a four-team playoff format, Division II features 28 teams from across the United States to battle it out in hopes to hoist the national championship trophy.
These 28 teams are put into 4 super regions of 7 teams each, with the top-seeded team in each super region receiving a first-round bye, as well as home field advantage up until the semi-finals, where the representative teams from each region are then reseeded.
With the start of the Division II playoffs just under two weeks away, the No. 8 Slippery Rock football team is primed to make some noise in the postseason for a second consecutive season.
Compiling a 10-0 regular season record, The Rock is off to its best start in its illustrious 121-year history and is firmly entrenched in playoff contention, coming at No. 2 in the third set of NCAA Super Region One rankings.
As it currently stands, five Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference teams are ranked in the top seven in the region. The only team ranked ahead of The Rock is the very one that stands in their way for the right to be called PSAC champion, Kutztown University. Notre Dame college comes in at third, followed by Indiana (Pa.), Shepherd, West Virginia State, and West Chester to round out the teams who currently qualify to make the playoffs in the Super Region One.
With an undefeated regular season under their belt, The Rock has a chance to capture their 12th Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference title as they travel 295 miles away from home to take on the Golden Bears on Saturday at 12:05 p.m.
Besides deciding the champion of the PSAC, Saturday’s game also carries massive playoffs implications both for The Rock and the Golden Bears.
The victor of Saturday’s game will clinch the top spot in the regional rankings and be guaranteed a first-round bye in the national playoffs as well as home field advantage through at least the semi-finals round.
Although the first two seeds in Super Region One are virtually guaranteed to go between Slippery Rock and Kutztown, there is still a lot of room for a potential shakeup in the rankings in advance of the final set of rankings that are set to be released Sunday.
Notre Dame college, who is currently ranked third in the region, faces off against the sixth ranked regional team West Virginia State. With West Virginia State holding two losses to their name and Notre Dame college coming off a bad loss against Glenville Sate, an unranked team, the loser of this game may very well be on the outside looking in when it’s all said and done.
West Chester currently sits at number seven in the regional rankings and draws a tough game against California (Pa.). If the Golden Rams fail to stave off the Vulcans in the regular season finale, the defending PSAC champions will surely miss the final cut.
Ranked eighth through tenth in the Super Region One rankings, Tiffin, Urbana and Ohio Dominican are knocking on the door of the playoffs, anxious for one of the top seven teams to make a mistake ahead of Sunday’s final cut.
Another interesting but potential scenario that can take place within the Super One playoffs is a potential rematch between bitter rivals Slippery Rock and IUP. The scenario in which this would happen isn’t so far fetched, either. The Rock would need to defeat Kutztown and therefore earn the number one seed in the region and IUP would need to take care of a lowly Shippensburg squad to secure the fourth seed and a home game in the first round of the playoffs against the likely five seed in Shepard.
If Indiana were to move on from there, then that would set up a rematch in one of the best rivalries across Division II, as The Green and White would welcome back the Crimson Hawks to Mihalik-Thompson stadium.
However, a lot can change ahead of ahead of the last set of regional rankings, as the games still need to be played. These scenarios aren’t guaranteed to happen by any means, but they offer some interesting insight as to how much is still to be decided in the coming days.
Out of the 57 teams that comprise Super Region One, only seven will emerge from the dust on Sunday with a chance to become the 49th Division II national champion.