*** NAIA PLAYOFFS ***
TEAM OF DESTINY? – The MORNINGSIDE MUSTANGS have come into their own the past two seasons as the new masters of the Great Plains Athletic Conference after the University of Sioux Falls moved over to NCAA Division 2. The 2011 postseason ended with a disappointing early exit from the playoffs for the Mustangs. 2012, however, has found them increasingly referred to as this year’s “Team of Destiny” after a close call against the MONTANA TECH OREDIGGERS last week and a tough Overtime win yesterday against the SOUTHERN OREGON RAIDERS. The final score in this Instant Classic was 47-44.
BACK IN THE FINAL FOUR – The MARIAN UNIVERSITY KNIGHTS continue to make Balladeer’s Blog look like a gridiron Nostradamus for designating them as THE up-and- coming power in NAIA football a few years back. After another stellar season, much of which they spent in the number 1 spot in the rankings, the Knights have made it to the Final Four for the second year in a row. Yesterday Marian advanced with an authoritative 45-34 win over the SAINT FRANCIS (IN) COUGARS.
THE HEART OF A CHAMPION – Chicago’s SAINT XAVIER UNIVERSITY COUGARS, the defending champions of NAIA football, continue their defense of their title. Yesterday the Cougars joined Morningside and Marian in the 2012 Final Four by defeating the powerhouse UNIVERSITY OF THE CUMBERLANDS PATRIOTS by a final score of 35-21.
THE DEFENSIVE EPIC OF THE POSTSEASON – The MISSOURI VALLEY COLLEGE VIKINGS filled the last slot in this season’s Final Four in the NAIA. The Vikings had their hands full with the BETHEL (TN) WILDCATS, who toppled the top-ranked GEORGETOWN (KY) TIGERS last Saturday. MVC avoided being the second victims of a Bethel upset by winning this 10-7 game for the ages.
*** NCAA DIVISION 2 PLAYOFFS ***
REST OR RUST? – In 2010 and 2011 the 8 D2 teams who had a bye in the First Round wound up struggling, with 5 losing in 2010 and 4 in 2011. This year just 3 of the teams who came off a bye wound up losing. The MISSOURI WESTERN GRIFFONS had the most impressive upset win, hammering the (2) HENDERSON STATE UNIVERSITY REDDIES 45-21. ### The IUP CRIMSON HAWKS had the toughest time toppling their upper seed opponent, bringing down the (2) NEW HAVEN CHARGERS in a 17-14 epic. ### … And the ASHLAND EAGLES became the third of the 2 seeds to fall, losing to the WEST TEXAS A&M BUFFALOES by a score of 33-28. Will the Buffaloes be this year’s Wayne State?
MARATHON GAME OF THE DAY – The MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITY MAVERICKS (helmet at left) were the only 1 seed to struggle in 2012’s Second Round. In what turned out to be the longest game of the day the Mavericks held on in Double Overtime to defeat perennial gridiron powers the NORTHWEST MISSOURI STATE BEARCATS 38-35.
HELLO, NEWMAN! – The storied CARSON-NEWMAN EAGLES have returned to prominence this year. Yesterday they were the only 2 seed to advance and they did it in an incredibly exciting nail-biter of a game. The Eagles survived a tight 38-35 game for the ages against the LENOIR-RHYNE BEARS in what apparently should have been called the Hyphenated Bowl.
BLOWOUTS – The remaining games in the D2 playoffs yesterday turned out to be blowouts. The overall 1 seeds, the CSU-PUEBLO THUNDER WOLVES, roughed up the UNIVERSITY OF INDIANAPOLIS GREYHOUNDS 28-7. ### The VALDOSTA STATE BLAZERS torched their Gulf South Conference rivals the WEST ALABAMA TIGERS by a score of 49-21. ### … And the SHIPPENSBURG UNIVERSITY RED RAIDERS got thrashed 37-14 by the HBCU darlings the WINSTON-SALEM STATE RAMS.
*** NCAA DIVISION 3 PLAYOFFS ***
INSTANT CLASSIC – The UNIVERSITY OF SAINT THOMAS TOMMIES (helmet at left) won what turned out to be the only truly close game in the D3 playoffs yesterday. The Tommies had a real fight on their hands against the ELMHURST BLUE JAYS, one of last Saturday’s upset winners. Saint Thomas came out on top in the end with a 24-17 victory to advance to the quarterfinals.
BOORRIING! – Not only were all the other playoff games in D3 yesterday blowouts but all the upper seeds won, contributing no drama to the results. The LINFIELD COLLEGE WILDCATS won what was at least a reasonably close game by defeating the NORTH CENTRAL CARDINALS 30-14. ### The OSHKOSH TITANS destroyed the BETHEL (MN) ROYALS 37-14. ### The HOBART STATESMEN embarrassed the WITTENBERG TIGERS 35-10. ### … And the SALISBURY SEAGULLS got mauled by the WIDENER PRIDE by a score of 28-7.
BEYOND BORING – The WESLEY WOLVERINES (helmet at left) dismembered the CORTLAND STATE RED DRAGONS 56-6. ### The UNIVERSITY OF MARY HARDIN BAYLOR CRUSADERS annihilated the FRANKLIN COLLEGE GRIZZLIES to the tune of 63-17. ### … And the MT UNION PURPLE RAIDERS made the JOHNS HOPKINS BLUE JAYS their prison brides in a 55-13 laugher.
*** CCCAA PLAYOFFS ***
NCFA CHAMPIONSHIP – The CCCAA is divided into the NCFA and SCFA, just like the NFL is divided into the NFC and the AFC. Each year the winners of each division face each other in the CCCAA championship game. The CITY COLLEGE OF SAN FRANCISCO RAMS (helmet at left), the defending champs of BOTH the NCFA AND the CCCAA, successfully defended their title today against the AMERICAN RIVER COLLEGE BEAVERS. The Rams won a tight 41-36 contest. The Beavers made a very game comeback attempt after trailing 34-17 at halftime. The Rams face the SCFA champions in the title game on December 8th.
SCFA CHAMPIONSHIP – The MOUNT SAN ANTONIO COLLEGE MOUNTIES came into yesterday’s game at Hilmer Lodge Stadium as the defending champions of the SCFA. The BAKERSFIELD COLLEGE RENEGADES came in fresh off last week’s upset of the VENTURA PIRATES in the semi-finals. The Renegades prevented a Mt SAC/ CCSF rematch in the title game by upsetting the formidable Mounties in a 30-21 game that the Bakersfield faithful will be talking about for years. It will be Rams vs Renegades for the CCCAA championship on December 8th.
*** KANZA BOWL ***
KANZA BOWL – The 2012 edition of the Kanza Bowl was played today, pitting a team from the Lone Star Conference against a team from the MidAmerica Intercollegiate Athletics Association. The MIAA’s EMPORIA STATE HORNETS emerged with a 45-38 victory over the KINGSVILLE JAVELINAS in a brutal, bone-crushing back-and-forth affair.
Helmets courtesy of the Helmet Project.