Week 1 of the DII football season didn’t see much in the way of upsets, but there were some big Power 10 matchups that filled the bill to make for a thrilling opening weekend. This week, the stakes are even higher with four top-25 matchups. Come Monday, the Power 10 and top 25 could look quite different.
WEEK 1 RUNDOWN: New Power 10, stars of the week, FCS upsets and more
DII football games of the week (all times ET)
Emporia State at Northwest Missouri State, Thursday, Sept. 7, 8 p.m. | WATCH ($)
The MIAA has been Bearcats' country for a long time, and Emporia State knows that better than anyone. If the record books are correct, Emporia State hasn't defeated Northwest Missouri State in the regular season since 1994. This year, the Hornets have the pieces in place — led by last week's NCAA.com player of the week Braden Gleason — to make some noise in the MIAA, but to do so, they need to solve the riddle that is the Bearcats. The Northwest Missouri State offense looked sharp last week; however, the defense did allow more than 300 yards through the air, a feat Gleason is very capable of bettering after throwing for more than 400 yards last week. It's a big early season matchup for both that won't necessarily define either's season... but a win by the Hornets will certainly send a very loud message.
Colorado School of Mines at Angelo State, Saturday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m. | WATCH ($)
This is becoming an annual early and late season matchup for both of these powerhouse programs. In each of the past two seasons, Angelo State and Colorado School of Mines have met in the Super Region Four championship, with the Orediggers advancing to the semifinals each time. Last year, both met in a Week 2 thriller that saw the Rams win in overtime. The Orediggers have plenty of familiar faces and come in with arguably the best quarterback in DII football under center — and John Matocha certainly looked the part in Week 1, going for 300 yards and a couple scores. Opposite them, the Rams have a new quarterback, new backfield, and some new faces on defense, but looked just fine in an opening day 38-14 win. This should be a good battle and add yet another chapter to this awesome rivalry.
Ferris State at Ashland, Saturday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m. | WATCH
This is a big game for Ashland. The Eagles, a 2022 playoff team, lost a heartbreaker to nationally ranked Indiana (PA) last week in the final minutes. A loss against Ferris State, while not necessarily a season killer, will mean that Ashland has to run the G-MAC to have a chance at a return to the postseason. For Ferris State, it is the first of back-to-back tricky road games. A commanding victory — like last week's 54-12 rout — would build a lot of momentum heading into its FCS showdown with Montana in Week 3.
CSU Pueblo at Grand Valley State, Saturday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m. | WATCH ($)
These two schools have met in each of the past two seasons, and the results have been eerily similar. Grand Valley State has won each game in blow-out fashion, winning in 2021 by 20 points and last year by 25. With the Lakers' loss to Colorado School of Mines last week, that kind of big victory is the statement the Lakers need to make in their home opener. This isn't the same Thunderwolves team, however. Chance Fuller came in from Fort Hays State and looked right at home throwing for 276 yards and three touchdowns in his CSU Pueblo debut. He spread the ball out well among a diverse group of veteran and new receivers, so he has plenty of weapons to work with. And the Thunderwolves' defense was impressive, forcing turnovers and limiting yards. CSU Pueblo is quickly climbing the rankings. Grand Valley State doesn't want to fall any further. We are looking at an early must-win game for both teams' playoff resumes.
Wayne State (Neb) at Minnesota State, Saturday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m. | WATCH
There's no love lost here. Wayne State (Neb) had a big 2022, going 9-3 and reached the DII football championship tournament for the first time since 2008. Unfortunately, the Wildcats' season came to an end in the first round... to these same Minnesota State Mavericks (currently No. 6 in the Power 10 rankings). Both teams looked just fine offensively last week — Wayne State scored 31 points and the Mavericks scored 54 — but both defenses let up plenty of points as well, especially through the air. One matchup to watch is how the Wayne State rush defense — which allowed a paltry -3 yards rushing last week — matches up against the Minnesota State rushing attack, which piled up 461 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Even if that battle is won, both of these quarterbacks can air it out, which should make this game fun down to the final drive.
Four more big ones to watch:
- Bowie State at Davenport, Saturday Sept. 9, 12 p.m. Bowie State has momentum after its FCS upset, and Davenport is No. 25 in the D2Football.com poll.
- Central Oklahoma at Central Missouri, Saturday Sept. 9, 2 p.m. (The Battle of the MIAA Centrals). Both teams came off impressive wins last week. Central Missouri dropped 45 points, and the Broncos' defense held TJ Davis in check.
- Lenoir-Rhyne at Fayetteville State, Saturday Sept. 9, 6 p.m. Last year's CIAA champs face off against a Bears' team that pummeled St. Augustine's last week.
- West Chester at Slippery Rock, Saturday Sept. 9, 6 p.m. Who doesn't like a PSAC battle between perennial tournament threats?