We are slowly creeping up on the most important month of the NAIA football season. The playoff picture is getting clearer, and teams are starting to understand where they stand.
As some may know, there are 12 automatic playoff berths available for teams that win their conference and finish in the top 20. That leaves four at-large berths for the next four highest ranked teams. The latest poll is below:
- The first thing that sticks out is the disparity between No. 11 Saint Xavier and No. 19 St. Thomas. Saint Xavier started out the season 0-2, but is on a six-game winning streak. One of its losses was to St. Thomas, and handily, 31-10. It is hard to envision why one team is eight spots back, with the same record of the team that it beat by three touchdowns.
- One could can make arguments all up and down the top 10 on how certain teams should be ranked. Yet, this could all work itself in the end. Every team listed in the top 10 could potentially make a deep run in the playoffs.
- Watch out for Nos. 26 and 27. Arizona Christian and Kansas Wesleyan are right on track, although they had some stumbles earlier in the season.
- With Langston just defeating Ottawa (Ariz.) this past weekend, and with a better record, one would think it would have been ranked higher.
- At-large contenders should be rooting their hardest for Dickinson State to lose. Currently, Dickinson State is close to becoming a conference champion but still outside of the top 20. At-large hopefuls will be pulling for similar chaos to the Sun Conference where its top two contenders are ranked No. 16 and No. 19.
Photo courtesy of Dickinson State athletics