The D2 Football season is so, so close. We're are down to the final hours of season previews before we have real product to talk about.
To round out our 2017 D2 football previews, let's focus on the thing every team wants: a national title. Which teams win it? Which teams come close? I've got thoughts and would love to hear yours too.
By no means will this be a final draft of my thoughts, as there will undoubtedly be some twists and turns no one saw coming that forces me to rethink everything. With that said, let's get into the action and dissect the 28 teams you will be seeing in the D2 Playoffs later this year.
Super Region One
|7||Ohio Dominican||Great Midwest|
*Projected Conference Champion
SR1 is extremely competitive this year with the addition of the Great Midwest Conference, which makes four competitive conferences in the region for the first time in a long while. However, my final projections have a lot of roll-over from last season, as Cal, Shepherd, IUP, and Assumption all made it into the final field.
I believe the future holds a showdown between bitter rivals Cal (PA) and Indiana (PA), as those seem like the best teams in the region at this point. We will see that matchup on October 7, so we might get a taste for playoff football early.
As far as who wins this region, I am going to stick with my projected top seed for this region and go with Cal U to reach the National Semifinals. The Vulcans lost out on a chance for glory last season when Shepherd knocked them out on their own turf, but Cal comes back with a lot more pieces that have experienced a deep run and are ready for more.
Predicted Champion: California (PA)
Super Region Two
|1||Valdosta State*||Gulf South|
|2||North Alabama||Gulf South|
The CIAA's move into SR2 makes ranking these great teams even more of a struggle. Without any hyperbole, I think all seven of these teams could win the Super Region and advance into the national semifinals.
I like Winston-Salem and North Alabama to make it to the Super Regional final — two traditional powers, one on its way in (WSSU entering their first year in the region) and one on its way out (UNA making the jump to the FCS).
The Lions have lost a lot of talent from their national runner-up 2016 team, but it's their last shot at a D2 title. I like UNA to advance.
Predicted Champion: North Alabama
Super Region Three
|3||NW Missouri State||MIAA|
|4||Grand Valley State||GLIAC|
|5||Southern Arkansas*||Great American|
The two teams I believe will be there in the end: Ferris State and Emporia State, with Ferris getting the best of the Hornets for a trip into the national semifinals.
This region is the toughest call for me. Not because I don't have faith in Ferris to get the job done — because I do — but because the region is so stacked, anyone can beat anyone when the playoffs arrive.
Make no mistake: whichever team wins this region will become the national champion.
Predicted Champion: Ferris State
Super Region Four
|1||Texas A&M-Commerce*||Lone Star|
|6||Texas A&M-Kingsville||Lone Star|
Texas A&M Commerce brings back an All-American quarterback, offensive lineman, and one of the best defenses in the division. With some regional shakeups, the road is a lot easier for Commerce as well, giving them a fair shot at a national title.
Predicted Champion: Texas A&M-Commerce
I sort of gave this away already if you were paying attention, but I think this is the year Ferris State claims their first national title.
The Bulldogs have a dynamic offense led by former Eastern Michigan product Reggie Bell, and a defense that will go against some of the best competition all year long, preparing them for whatever the country has to offer.
In a very different championship game than we've seen in the recent past, I predict Ferris takes out Texas A&M-Commerce to win it all.
The season is finally here, and we are just months away from seeing a team hoist the national title trophy. Get ready folks, because the bumpy ride is just beginning.