Last week seemed as though every game was either a knockdown drag-out fight to the end or a blowout. The top games in the NAIA proved to be just that while 13 other games ended with the losers scoring 8 points or less. The GPAC/KCAC challenge was that in name and not in substance as the GPAC went 8-1 against their opponents from the south with the lone KCAC win being Kansas Wesleyan over Midland.
Needless to say this week should be a lot different across the country as there are seven featured games.
Morningside answered any questions their might be about their offense not being able to function without newly named Carolina Panther Brandon Wegher by putting up 897 yards of total offense against Sterling. The Mustangs had two rushers over 100 yards in the win.
Carroll College topped Southern Oregon 26-20 and even though the Saints won the game I was impressed by the talent SOU has on roster. The Raiders have a lot of guys who haven’t played together and they will only get stronger throughout the season. Mac Roche threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.
William Penn, also known as “WeOnlyPlayInThrillers University”, beat MidAmerica Nazarene 51-48 in 3OT. Statesmen QB Tyler Hafner was 10-27 on the day which no one will mistake as ultra efficient. However four of his 10 completions were touchdowns and the senior averaged 24.3 yards per completion. (For those of you slow on the math that’s 10-27 for 243 yards.)
SXU picked up a nice win over rival Saint Francis (Ill.) 34-28. The Cougars led 31-14 before giving up 14 points in the final quarter and holding off the Saints. SXU QB John Rhode was 33-55 passing for 416 yards and four touchdowns in the win. I also feel it’s appropriate to mention USF QB Don Butkus was 25-44 for 271 yards and three touchdowns. I mention this because it was a great performance. . .and it’s a Chicago football player named “Butkus.”
Allen Cooks of Lindsey Wilson housed two punt returns last week against Lyon College in LWC’s 76-10 win over the Scots. Cooks’ longest was 92 yards. Georgetown might want to boot it into the front row of the stands this week.
Michael Wheary of Southeastern had 10 receptions last week for 245 yards and two touchdowns in the Fire’s 45-33 loss to Faulkner University. Those are huge numbers and definitely a guy to keep your eye on this season.
Nick Marra of Baker University 13-22 passing for 318 yards. That’s a pretty good day at the office for any QB but you factor in that six of the 13 completions were touchdowns then you can see how good his weekend really was. Marra will have a much bigger test this week against the William Penn defense.
Nolan Saraceni of Montana Tech rushed 13 times for 101 yards in the Orediggers 58-14 win over MSU-Northern. The Billings, Mont. native also crossed the goaline for four touchdowns and average 7.8 yards per carry.
(A) 7 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) @ (H) 11 Georgetown (Ky.): It’s no secret that I have created some great relationships with coaches in the NAIA. Craig Mullins, a former coach and player at Georgetown College was one of them. Craig passed away last spring after battling lung cancer. This week’s game will honor Coach Mullins who the Mid South Conference will name it’s offensive player of the year award after. As for the game, this will be the NAIA’s best this week. GT 42 LWC 38.
(A) 13 Eastern Oregon @ (H) 1 Southern Oregon: Both squads have losses on their record and this week’s game will be to “right the ship” or so they say. SOU showed me they haven’t dropped off much from last season considering they lost in an absolute thriller. EOU has two tough losses but can be electric on offense as show by Jace Billingsley. SOU 28 EOU 21.
(A) 16 Campbellsville (Ky.) @ (H) 24 Webber International (Fla.): You might find two more contrasting offenses matching up this week in the NAIA. WIU can flat out run the football and Campbellsville gets it done through the air. WIU has the advantage at home and should bounce back after last week’s loss to Stetson. WIU 31 CU 24
(A) 19 William Penn (Iowa) @ (H) 15 Baker (Kan.): Second best game of the week in the NAIA but probably the biggest in terms of early season conference implications. WPU has two last minute thrilling victories already this season and Baker beat an extremely talented Grand View in their first game. While the teams are in opposite divisions in the HAAC, this game nonetheless will show us who the front runner in the conference will be. I see Baker with a slight edge at home. BU 24 WPU 21.
(A) 20 Robert Morris (Ill.) @ (H) 17 Valley City State (N.D.): Both teams come into this game undefeated and a chance to move up in the NAIA rankings. This week’s game will tell us a lot more about what these teams actually have and if they will compete for a shot at the postseason. RMU has the edge on athletes and the ability to make big plays. VCSU has a more complete team that might not be as flashy as the Eagles but in the game might prove that slow and steady wins the race. VCSU 35 RMU 28.
(A) 4 Carroll (Mont.) @ (H) Montana Tech: Yeah, you already know what I’m going to say. “There isn’t a better rivalry in the NAIA than Carroll College and Montana Tech.” Go ahead and credit that quote to every Tech/Carroll article I’ve written since experiencing it first hand over a decade ago. Carroll has the more complete team this year but that doesn’t mean Tech isn’t just as talented. After putting up 58 points in their opener this game will show us if Tech is starting to turn the corner. CC 35 Tech 24.
(A) 9 Missouri Valley @ (H) 25 Benedictine (Kan.): With a win, Benedictine will be one of two remaining undefeated teams in the HAAC. This week’s game is a big test for both teams to see where they level up with the rest of the HAAC. Both teams have quality squads but I think MoVal has the edge. MVC 24 BC 17.
The Rest of the NAIA (Winners Selected in Bold:
(A) 10 Faulkner (Ala.) @ (H) Bluefield (Va.)
(A) 12 Northwestern (Iowa) @ (H) Dordt (Iowa)
(A) 18 Langston (Okla.) @ (H) Bethany (Kan.)
(A) 21 Friends (Kan.) @ (H) Southwest Baptist University
(A) 4 Saint Xavier (Ill.) @ (H) Ave Maria (Fla.)
(A) 8 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) @ (H) Graceland (Iowa)
(A) Avila (Mo.) @ (H) Peru State (Neb.)
(A) Bacone (Okla.) @ (H) Texas Southern University
(A) Bethel (Tenn.) @ (H) University of Tennessee-Martin
(A) College of Idaho @ (H) RV Montana Western
(A) Concordia (Mich.) @ (H) Anderson University
(A) Culver-Stockton (Mo.) @ (H) Central Methodist (Mo.)
(A) Cumberland (Tenn.) @ (H) University of West Alabama
(A) Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) @ (H) Briar Cliff (Iowa)
(A) East Texas Baptist University @ (H) Texas College
(A) Edward Waters (Fla.) @ (H) Kennesaw State University
(A) Evangel (Mo.) @ (H) 6 Grand View (Iowa)
(A) Hastings (Neb.) @ (H) Concordia (Neb.)
(A) Jamestown (N.D.) @ (H) Dickinson State (N.D.)
(A) Kentucky Christian @ (H) RV Reinhardt (Ga.)
(A) Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) @ (H) Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)
(A) Lyon (Ark.) @ (H) Hendrix College
(A) Midland (Neb.) @ (H) 22 Doane (Neb.)
(A) Missouri Baptist @ (H) Siena Heights (Mich.)
(A) Montana State-Northern @ (H) Rocky Mountain (Mont.)
(A) Nebraska Wesleyan @ (H) 3 Morningside (Iowa)
(A) Point (Ga.) @ (H) Pikeville (Ky.)
(A) RV Saint Francis (Ind.) @ (H) Taylor (Ind.)
(A) SAGU (Texas) @ (H) Austin College
(A) Southeastern (Fla.) @ (H) Warner (Fla.)
(A) St. Francis (Ill.) @ (H) Lincoln University
(A) Trinity Bible College @ (H) Mayville State (N.D.)
(A) Trinity International (Ill.) @ (H) Wisconsin Lutheran College
(A) University of Indianapolis @ (H) 1 Marian (Ind.)
(A) Waldorf (Iowa) @ (H) Dakota State (S.D.)
(A) Wayland Baptist (Texas) @ (H) Howard Payne University
The Wrap Up
That’s it for this week. I love this time of year where we get to see some great non-conference games and see how certain leagues stack up against the rest of the country. This week I think we will see a lot closer games overall with a few blowouts sprinkled in across the country. Nothing like last week. Until next week. . .enjoy some great NAIA football! If I missed something, shoot me an email via firstname.lastname@example.org or hammer on my twitter account @ JasonDannelly.