It’s been one heck of a year again in the NAIA. The unpredictability year after year is what fans longed for from 2000-2010 and never really received. It seemed like at the start of each season you could pick one of four teams and that’s absolutely who would end up in the national title game.
That’s why this season it season quite strange that we have a rematch from last season’s national championship game. At the beginning of the year, Southern Oregon and Marian were tied for fist place in the NAIA. Most people chalked that up to their recent history and a sort of “congrats” on a previous year well done.
As I called around and talked to media members that cover NAIA institutions, coaches and sports information directors the overwhelming consensus was these were two good teams but we would not see them back in the title game.
Well. . .shows what we know. SOU reloaded and developed talent. Marian was even keel and overcame losses again through the season to get back to the title game.
Last decade there was a lot of talk about Carroll College and Sioux Falls being the dynasties in NAIA football. Given the last couple of years, I think you have to seriously start considering Marian and SOU in that argument. Both teams have won titles and are back again for more.
Marian has been been in the conversation every year since 2010 with the exception of a 6-5 season in 2013. Otherwise the Knights have been 12-1, 12-1, 11-3 and 11-2 with three appearances in the title game.
SOU rose quickly last season and showed they were more than just an offensive juggernaut. Throw out 2013 and SOU has been 9-3, 13-2 and 11-2 with last year’s title belt still attached to their waste.
Tomorrow’s game will be as good as ever. It has all the makings of a very memorable title game. The rematch, experience in the title game and the burning desire to get another ring.
With that said, I’m picking Marian to get their second national championship.
Predicted Final score: Marian 35 SOU 31.