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Wayne Cavadi | | September 15, 2023

Ferris State, West Florida games against the FCS highlight Week 3 DII football games to watch

Ferris State wins 2022 DII football championship over Colorado School of Mines

Through two weeks of the 2023 season, six DII football teams have taken down FCS opponents. This week, Ferris State and West Florida look to be the biggest giant slayers yet, taking on nationally ranked FCS foes in what would be a pair of upsets for the ages. 

The Bulldogs head to No. 11 (tied) Montana and West Florida takes on No. 24 Florida A&M. There are a handful of DII football programs that have the potential to win a matchup of this proportion, and Ferris State and the Argos are certainly two of those. 

Oh, and Grand Valley State takes on its third 2022 DII football playoff team in a row to start the season.

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DII football games of the week: Week 3

Note: All games Saturday, Sept. 16

Assumption at Grand Valley State, 1 p.m. ET | WATCH ($)

It's the Brian Kelly Bowl. Kelly, now the head coach of LSU, played his college football at Assumption (where the field is named after him) before going on to coach the Lakers for 13 highly successful years, which includes winning back-to-back DII football national championships in 2002-03. These two not only have the connection of the former coach — both were 2022 DII football playoff teams. 

Assumption's momentum from last season has carried over, and the Greyhounds are scoring points aplenty in their 2-0 start. The damage has been done primarily through the air thanks to quarterback Jake Cady, who has thrown for more than 500 yards and eight touchdowns thus far. The Greyhounds' defense has allowed quite a few points though, and the Lakers are very good at scoring them, averaging 42.5 points per game. Grand Valley State has been involved in two shootouts thus far, so if this defense tightens up at home, Assumption could be in for a long day. This could also be the Lakers' third week in a row where the game is decided on the final drive. 

Pittsburg State at Central Missouri, 2 p.m. ET | WATCH ($)

Pittsburg State hasn't lost a game in the MIAA since Nov. 6, 2021. Central Missouri hasn't beaten Pitt State since 2019. The red-hot Mules are hoping to see both streaks end on Saturday. This is a big battle of undefeateds that would make a huge statement should the Mules win.

Central Missouri has one of the top offenses in the land. The Mules are scoring 43 points a game, and it's been behind the impressive arm of quarterback Zach Zebrowski. Last week's player of the week has been simply remarkable, throwing for 790 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in the first two weeks of the season. However, this Gorillas defense has been quite stingy thus far, allowing just 10.5 points per game. They have also been very good against the pass, allowing just 163.5 yards per game, three touchdowns and three interceptions. This could be a real chess match, but also should be one of the best games of the weekend. 

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West Florida at Florida A&M, 6 p.m. ET | WATCH

The Argos hit the road for the second time this season and it is against nationally ranked Florida A&M. The Rattlers are 1-1 on the season and ranked No. 24 in the FCS Coaches Poll. This defense is pretty quick and can be hard on teams, so is the upset possible?

West Florida — remember, still a very young program — has been traditionally tough on the road, going 34-10 since its first season in 2016. Thus far, the Argos have allowed six points on the season, so we know this team is a nightmare for opposing offenses. They are allowing just 48 yards per game rushing and 103 yards per game passing, showing a balance against both attacks. Offensively, Peewee Jarrett has one of the strongest arms in the division and has made an instant connection with Virginia Union transfer John Jiles. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver has been his weapon of choice and already has three touchdowns on the season. The Argos have depth at each offensive position, so they could stretch that Rattlers defense and surprise them with some quick dinks underneath and big plays stretching the field. Defensively, this team hasn't seen the firepower Florida A&M is capable of, but they are no doubt ready for the challenge. West Florida has defied the odds since the program started many times... Saturday would be another epic chapter in this program's brief but astounding history.

Mississippi Valley State at Delta State, 7 p.m. ET | WATCH ($)

The Statesmen went on the road and took down FCS Mississippi Valley State last year in a tightly contested ball game, winning 24-17. This time, Delta State hosts MVSU, which already lost a game to a DII football team this year, dropping its opener to Central State 24-21.

This obviously has a little more on the line than just DII vs. FCS, as both teams are in-state rivals. Last year, Delta State flew under the radar early in the season, but this time it's much different. The Statesmen are a Power 10 team, and instead of surprising people with an upset, it is somewhat expected. Patrick Shegog has this offense rolling, scoring 90 points in their first two games. Shegog does it all as a weapon on the ground and through the air, where he has thrown for eight touchdowns and no interceptions. This is a good final test before entering the heart of Gulf South play.

WATCHLIST: 22 players that could be the DII football player of the year

Ferris State at Montana, 8 p.m. ET | WATCH ($)

This could be the king of DII football upsets this century. The two-time DII football defending champions head to Montana to take on a top-15 team in the FCS. Montana is an FCS power, appearing in five championship games in the 2000s and seemingly penciled into the FCS bracket every year. This is a battle of two of the top teams in the entire college football landscape, and it should be a good one. 

Both Ferris State and Montana are rolling offensively. The Grizzlies are 2-0, outscoring their opponents 78-33 in those victories. The Bulldogs dropped 92 points in their first two games while taking down nationally ranked Ashland last week. Ferris State, as always, doesn't overpower teams from one strength and is deep and balanced, coming at defenses with multiple quarterbacks who both pass and run the rushing attack efficiently. The Ferris defense is always tough and has handled the top offenses DII football has had to offer on some of DII football's largest stages. You don't have to worry about the lights being too bright for this team — it's just a matter of being able to execute a nearly perfect game plan. It's worth noting that the Bulldogs haven't lost on the road since 2017. Keeping that streak alive Saturday would result in complete pandemonium in Big Rapids, Mich. 

What else we're watching

  • Miles at Arkansas-Pine Bluff: The Golden Bears head to Arkansas sitting at 2-0, fresh off a win over FCS Alabama State. Can they take down another FCS team — an 0-2 FCS team hungry for its first win — one more time?
  • Southern Arkansas at Ouachita Baptist: The Muleriders had an impressive comeback win last week and face one of the toughest teams in DII football right now. Can they carry that momentum into a huge upset?

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