So, here we are. Another December in the DII football offseason where we talk about just how good Ferris State football is. For the second time in as many years, the Bulldogs are the national champions and because of that, end the season No. 1 in the final DII football Power 10 rankings of 2022.
Ferris State ends the 2022 season exactly how it began: sitting atop every ranking in the nation. A little pat on the back for myself: four of the top five ranked teams in my annual "way-too early Power 10 rankings" each January (which means a new one is coming soon!) finished this 2022 season in the top five, as projected.
No need for further introduction. Let's get to it.
The final Power 10 rankings of 2022
No. 1 Ferris State | Previous: 3: The Bulldogs have one loss in two years by one point to arguably the second-best team in the country over the same span. Need more reason? They've done it using a steady diet of four different quarterbacks, changing a wide receiver into one of the best running backs this postseason, and a defense that tends to eat offenses alive come November. Yeah... this team is good.
No. 2 Grand Valley State | Previous: 1: The Lakers were one of several victims of Super Region Three, where it truly seemed like whoever came out alive was winning it all. This team was so strong all season long and had so much depth in all three phases of the game, it was impressive. Having to beat the defending champs twice in a season was a daunting task and a three-point loss in the quarterfinals to Ferris State doesn't change one tiny iota the fact that this is one of the best teams from start to finish.
No. 3 Colorado School of Mines | Previous: 6: The national runners-up tested themselves out of the gates and went on the road to Grand Valley State and faced Angelo State to start the season 0-2. The Orediggers then went on a tear, annihilating teams on a 13-game winning streak — including avenging the Angelo State loss in dominating fashion — before losing to Ferris State. Harlon Hill Trophy winner John Matocha and Michael Zeman were fun to watch this year and powered one of the scariest offenses in DII... which also kind of speaks to how great Ferris State's defense was.
HARLON HILL TROPHY: Complete history and everything you need to know about the award
No. 4 West Florida | Previous: 7: The Peter Shinnick era comes to an end in the national semifinals. What a run it was: Since starting the program in 2016, West Florida has a national runner-up, national championship and national semifinals appearance on its resume. Just simply remarkable. How it looks next year with all-world wide receiver David Durden likely NFL bound, and coach Shinnick at Towson will be interesting. But that doesn't take away from what the Argos accomplished this year with a steamroller of an offense.
No. 5 Angelo State | Previous: 2: I liked this Rams' team a lot, but in the end that Mines' offense was a little too much. A 12-1 season in which they topped 30 points in nearly every game is nothing to hang their heads about. Two years in a row, the Rams' season ended in the national quarterfinals, and this will, yet again, be the team to beat in the Lone Star Conference.
No. 6 Pittsburg State | Previous: 5: What a season for the Gorillas. They swept through MIAA play a perfect 11-0, including a thrilling 24-22 win over rival Northwest Missouri State and stomped UIndy in their first postseason game since 2014 by a score of 35-0. Hanging with the repeat champions in a 17-14 second-round loss says all you need to know about whether Pitt State can compete with anyone in DII.
No. 7 Shepherd | Previous: 8: The Tyson Bagent era is all but over as three big-time players (himself, offensive lineman Joey Fisher, and running back Ronnie Brown) have made their NFL intentions public. What a run it has been. Bagent set multiple DII football quarterback records along the way ending with the Rams back-to-back national semifinals runs in 2021 and 2022. Avenging its three-point PSAC Championship game loss to Indiana (PA) in blowout fashion in the playoffs was huge.
No. 8 Delta State | Previous: 9: Here's where it gets tough, because very little separates the next few teams. The Statesmen were so impressive this year because they started the season with five of their first six games on the road, took down an FCS school and two nationally ranked teams, and set the tone for the season. The true 'Road Warriors' of DII football this year, the 11-2 season was quite the turnaround from last year's 5-6 record, especially in the tough GSC. A big reason was dual-threat quarterback Patrick Shegog, who just didn't get enough recognition this year.
No. 9 Northwest Missouri State | Previous: First five out: The Bearcats had an interesting season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. That resulted in a couple of losses in the regular season, the first time that had happened since 2018. Still, what this defense did to Ouachita Baptist's No. 2 scoring offense in the playoffs in a 47-17 rout shows how they still compete with the top teams at an elite level.
No. 10 (tie) Minnesota State, Ouachita Baptist | Previous: First five out, 4 respectively: What a strong return for the Mavericks after one "down" year of retooling. The team closed the year with four wins in their last five games against nationally ranked teams before falling by three points in an exciting shootout by just three points to Colorado School of Mines.
Ouachita Baptist was the same old Tigers. Led by TJ Cole and Kendel Givens, this rushing attack plowed through the GAC and played their annual gritty battles against Harding and Henderson State, which both ended in victories in an undefeated conference run.
First five out (in alphabetical order)
- Ashland: The Eagles came out hot, stunning nationally ranked Notre Dame (OH) on opening day and reeling off seven straight wins. They ended strong with a first-round win in the playoffs before battling IUP to the very end.
- Benedict: How about them Tigers? Benedict owned the SIAC this year with impressive wins against conference heavyweights to end the season a perfect 11-0. Making their playoff debut as the No. 1 seed — in Super Region Two no less — was equally impressive.
- Indiana (PA): Mak Sexton fit in well and Duane Brown was a lightning bolt for the 2022 PSAC champs. It always seems like the Crimson Hawks are in the mix, and this year was no different, reaching the national quarterfinals before bowing out.
- Slippery Rock: As The Rock said, "they don't rebuild, they retool." With so many losses, it was interesting to see how they performed this season, and it was more of the same: Not only reaching the DII football championship but also winning a game.
- Wingate: I actually had a couple other teams considered for this spot, but Wingate's run to the Super Region Two title game cannot be ignored. The Bulldogs utterly dominated both Virginia Union and Benedict before facing West Florida.
Also considered (in alphabetical order): Assumption, Bemidji State, CSU Pueblo, Limestone, Newberry, Notre Dame (OH), Virginia Union, Wayne State (NE), Winona State