I’m going to be completely honest. I hate round two of the NAIA Championship Series. I hate the way it’s put together, I hate when it’s played and I hate that after umpteen years no one has done anything to change it.
Some of my argument for change goes back to what I touched on last week via twitter and the need for the NAIA and its football coaches to consider a major rewrite of the NAIA Championship Series. Just like every other division of college football, things have changed. But the NAIA is the only organization that has not made a major change to its postseason qualification since it adopted its current form in 1997.
And there isn’t a person in the world that can convince me the state of NAIA football is the same now as it was in 1997.
The reason I hate this round of the postseason is because there is typically some sort of travel nightmare that takes away from the ability of one team to focus on what’s important. Flight delays, bad roads and bus windows exploding in North Dakota. Coaches and athletes do their best and typically have the mentality that “we don’t let stuff like that distract us.”
But why not create a system that removes these distractions rather than perpetuate them?
What we have learned this year about the NAIA postseason (and every year) is that you want to play at home. Home teams were 8-0 last weekend. That ups the home record to 192-55 (.777) since 1997. The quarterfinals results are right on par with round one results as the hosts are 51-16 (.761) since 1997.
Carroll College, Grand View and Marian were probably the most impressive in the first round. I felt like Marian and Georgetown were on a pretty even keel but the Knights impressed by blowing out the Tigers. Not only did Carroll College not allow a point to Valley City State last week, they didn’t allow a kickoff (They deferred and then chose the wind).
This week doesn’t have any games that jump off the page but all four are really solid contests and should be great games.
Game 1: Southern Oregon (10-2) at Carroll (Mont.) (10-1): Third time is the charm? It’s not the first time that it has happened in the NAIA postseason but it’s certainly rare and typically happens with teams in the Frontier Conference. These teams know one another inside and out. Advantage leaning to the home team in this game and as long as Carroll stays healthy I’d say they are the team to beat. It’s too bad this game has to happen this week because I still think SOU is a championship caliber team.
Carroll College 31 SOU 24
Game 2: Marian (Ind.) (9-2) at Grand View (Iowa) (10-1): Rematch of the previous two national champions and a rematch from earlier this year when Marian knocked off the defending champions. One of the main issues early in the season for GV was replacing some of the talent they lost on both sides of the ball with inexperience. Marian is a stout team but GV just appears to have things rolling for themselves now.
Grand View 24 Marian 17
Game 3: Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (10-2) at Saint Xavier (Ill.) (9-2): This is a dangerous game for the home team Saint Xavier. Campbellsville put up a lot of points last week and LWC’s offense is every bit as good. I have no doubt that these teams will put up a great deal of points this week. The real question is which team will actually be able to stop the other. My gut has me going with the home team but let it be known this is the one pick this week that I am the least confident about.
SXU 42 LWC 35
Game 4: Missouri Valley (9-2) at Morningside (Iowa) (10-1): Morningside rolled last week against Ottawa while MVC was in a dog fight against Northwestern. The Morningside loss has sharpened the focus of this team and until they get up against a high powered offense I don’t see them struggling again. MVC is a good team but they aren’t a threat on offense to outscore Morningside.
Morningside 42 MoVal 17
So like a chump, I went with the chalk this week. Last week I was 7-1 with Marian being the one team I misjudged. While these will all be exciting games there isn’t one that really has me jumping out of my seat to profess as “the best game on the schedule!” They are all really good quarterfinal games. If you want to see wild and crazy stuff I’d send you to Chicago this weekend. If you want to see a slobber knocker go to Helena. If you want to see two of the best coaches in the NAIA go to Sioux City and if you want to see a bunch of championship rings go to Des Moines. See. . .it’s that easy.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy your weekend, get fat, enjoy your family and friends.