OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- In spite of their record, the Pittsburg State Gorillas (7-1, 5-1 MIAA) have their work cut out for them if they want to return to the NCAA Division II Playoffs for the 17th time in 19 seasons.
Though ranked No. 8 in the American Football Coaches Association Division II poll, the Gorillas are ranked ninth in the NCAA Division II Southwest Region ranking. It is the regional ranking that determines whether a team advances to the playoffs, six schools from each region qualify.
It appears for PSU to have a chance to advance, the Gorillas will need to win out the regular season schedule -- that quest begins Saturday when they host upstart Truman (4-4, 4-2 MIAA).
The Bulldogs, ranked 11th in the region this week after three straight wins helped them gain sole possession of fourth place in the conference, will be trying to snap a losing skid of 18 games to PSU.
The string dates back to the Gorillas' debut game in the MIAA in 1989, they played twice in 1990 thanks to a D-II playoff pairing.
Missouri Western (7-1, 5-1 MIAA), ranked No. 16 in the national poll and third in the region, hits the road to face Southwest Baptist (1-7, 1-5 MIAA). The Griffons' No. 3 total defense in the MIAA (297.6 yapg) will try to slow the No. 2 total offense (401.5 ypg) of the Bearcats.
Meanwhile, SBU's defense, last in the MIAA in points (44.1 papg) and yardage allowed (519.6 yapg), will try to keep Western from being the fifth team to surpass 500 yards of offense against the Bearcats this season.
The top-ranked team in the region and No. 2 in the coaches' poll, Northwest Missouri State (8-0, 6-0 MIAA) will revisit the "Road Dog" days of last season's national playoffs.
After playing five straight playoff games away from Bearcat Stadium in 2005, Northwest finishes the 2006 regular season with three in a row away from Maryville, though one is the Fall Classic V at Arrowhead Nov. 4 in Kansas City, starting this Saturday at Central Missouri (4-4, 2-4 MIAA).
The Mules have alternated wins and losses the last four weeks, after starting conference play with back-to-back losses. Both UCM and Northwest average at least 35 points per game for the season, but the Mules have scored just 27.2 ppg in MIAA play compared to the Bearcats' 36.3 average in the conference.
The game will be available as part of the NCAA Division II/College Sports Television Broadband package. Fans can watch the action via the world wide web at www.ncaasports.com/DII.
Washburn (4-4, 3-3 MIAA) hosts interstate foe Emporia State (3-5, 2-4 MIAA) for Homecoming in Yager Stadium at Moore Bowl. The Turnpike Tussle is most-contested rivalry between two current D-II members, with this year marking its 103rd renewal.
The Ichabods are out to snap a three-game skid, while the visiting Hornets are looking for their first win in five games.
After splitting back-to-back home games, the Missouri Southern Lions (4-4, 2-4 MIAA) hits the road to renew acquaintances with former Central States Intercollegiate Conference foe Fort Hays State (0-8, 0-6 MIAA) at Lewis Field Stadium. The Tigers are shooting to snap a 13-game losing streak going back to last season.
NORTHWEST STAYS ATOP REGION; MWSU, PSU SLIP: Two of the three MIAA teams ranked last week on the NCAA Division II Southwest Region list lost ground this week in spite of posting wins.
Northwest Missouri State stayed at No. 1, but Missouri Western slipped to third when Chadron (Neb.) State (8-0) took over the No. 2 spot. Abilene Christian (Texas) (7-0) switched places with West Texas A&M (7-1), with the Wildcats now No. 4 followed by the Buffaloes after a 49-33 win over WTAMU last Thursday (Oct. 19).
Fort Lewis (Colo.) (6-3) remained at No. 6, while both Tarleton (Texas) State (4-3) and Midwestern (Texas) State (6-2) sped past Pittsburg State, dropping the Gorillas from seventh to ninth.
Both Southeastern Oklahoma State (4-3) and Truman entered the Top 12 this week at 10th and 11th, respectively. Central Oklahoma (5-3) tumbled from ninth to 12th after losing for the first time in six weeks. RMAC schools Nebraska-Kearney and Western New Mexico fell from the list.
Only one game between teams ranked in the region takes place this week -- Tarleton State is at Abilene Christian.
The top six teams in the region at the end of the season will advance to the Division II playoffs, but if a conference has a team in the Top 10, but no one in the top six, that team will earn access into the playoffs and bump the No. 6 squad.
RACE REPORT: Pittsburg State senior TB Germaine Race, with three touchdowns against SBU last week, is two points from becoming the first player in NCAA history to score 600 career points, regardless of division.
While Race passed Truman's Jarrett Anderson (1993-96) for eighth on the NCAA D-II list, he's still trailing the 1996 Harlon Hill Award winner for second on the MIAA chart, the MIAA all-games list includes Anderson's postseason efforts, which pull the total to 6,313 (the NCAA began including postseason totals in 2002).
Race also has 33 career 100-yard games, one shy of the D-II career record of 34, set by Damian Beane of Shepherd (W.Va.) from 1996-99.
KORRODI'S STREAKS END IN MSSU LOSS: Central Missouri senior QB Toby Korrodi brought a pair of passing streaks with him to Missouri Southern last Saturday, neither made it out of town intact.
Korrodi completed his first seven passes, added to the 16 in a row he completed the week before against Southwest Baptist, it gave him the MIAA record with 23. Northwest's Travis Miles tossed 18 in a row against Washburn in 2000, which will remain as the single-game record.
When his last pass attempt of the game was tipped and picked off, Korrodi's MIAA-record string of passes without an interception ended at 247. He fell 33 shy of the Division II mark of 280.
IT IS GOOD TO BE THE KING: Two MIAA players pulled double-duty last Saturday (Oct. 21), earning Homecoming King honors and starting in the Homecoming game.
Missouri Western senior TE Gijon Robinson won't likely forget his reign as king at Western, he caught the go-ahead touchdown pass from freshman P Daniel Eidson after a Griffon field goal attempt was blocked by Emporia State, helping his squad to a 24-12 win.
Pittsburg State junior DB Nick Dellasega had four tackles (two solos) as the starting free safety/Homecoming royalty for the Gorillas, breaking up two passes as well.
OTHER NOTES FROM THE RECORD BOOK: PSU senior K Nathan Alleman made nine more point-after kicks in as many tries against SBU, raising his string of consecutive makes to 105 and pulling him to within 13 of setting the NCAA Division II record (117 by North Dakota State's Aaron Pederson, 1998-2001)... Washburn senior WR Sam Sissom did not have a reception in the rain-soaked loss at Truman last week, remaining fifth on MIAA career receiving list with 3,150 yards... Emporia State blocked two field goals against Western, raising their season total to a conference record-tying five -- Northwest blocked five in 1989.