The 2013 NAIA Football Landscape
• Rocky Mountain (Mont.) and Jamestown (N.D.) open the NAIA’s 2013 football season with a Friday night non-conference tilt. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. MDT at Connors Stadium in Miles City, Mont.
• Rocky Mountain, who received votes in the preseason coaches’ poll, finished fourth in the Frontier Conference last season with a 6-5 overall record and a 5-5 mark in the league. A member of the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) in football, Jamestown was 4-6 in 2012.
• In last season’s meeting, the Battlin’ Bears jumped out to a 31-7 halftime lead that proved too much for Jamestown to overcome. Rocky Mountain totaled 364 yards of total offense, including 255 through the air. The Jimmies were held to what would prove to be their third lowest offensive output of the season – 245 yards.
• Quarterback Bryce Baker headlines the offensive returners for Rocky Mountain. The junior Fernley, Nev., native looks to build upon a sophomore campaign in which he ranked 15th nationally in total passing (2,384), passing yards per game (238.4) and total offense per game (265).
• A key returner for Jamestown is senior defensive back J.T. Petsch, who led the Jimmies with 83 tackles, including a career-high 15 stops against NCAA Division II Concordia (Minn.) on Sept. 1, 2012.
• Three new programs will make their NAIA varsity debut this season: Oklahoma Baptist, Reinhardt (Ga.) and Warner (Fla.). Oklahoma Baptist, who fields a football team for the first time since 1940, opens action August 31 against Southwestern (Kan.). Warner also beings play August 31 when they travel to NCAA Division II Stetson (Fla.), while Reinhardt goes to NCAA Division I FCS Mercer (Ga.) next Saturday.
• Future NAIA football programs to come online are: College of Idaho (2014), Missouri Baptist (2014), Southeastern (Fla.) (2014) and Lyon (Ark.) (2015). Since 2008, the NAIA has added 16 varsity football programs (Portions of information from the National Football Foundation).
• Next week marks the first full week of football action in the NAIA. Defending national champion Marian (Ind.) begins its national title defense August 31 against Kentucky Christian. The Knights are currently ranked No. 2 in the latest NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll.
• National runner-up and preseason top-ranked Morningside (Iowa) waits an additional week, opening play on Sept. 7 when they host receiving votes Valley City State (N.D.). The Mustangs return nine starters on an offense that ranked amongst the top five nationally in scoring offense (618), pass offense (4,030), total offense per game (483.9), scoring offense per game (44.1), first downs per game (24.4) and third down conversion percentage (49.1 percent). Joel McCabe, who was fourth in the NAIA in receiving (1,284 yards) and fifth in receptions (88) a year ago, headlines the group.
• For a complete look at the NAIA football scoreboard, click here.
This Week Around the Top 25
• Morningside (Iowa) tallied four first-place votes and 280 points to earn its first-ever No. 1 ranking in the NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll (dating back to 1999). Defending national champion Marian (Ind.) and Football Championship Series semifinalist Missouri Valley tied for the No. 2 spot despite the Knights taking home a poll-best eight first-place votes. No. 4 Saint Xavier (Ill.) and No. 5 Saint Francis (Ind.) make up the remainder of the quintet.
• The Heart of America Athletic Conference led all leagues with five programs in the Top 25 this week – Missouri Valley, No. 10 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), No. 15 Baker (Kan.), No. 22 Evangel (Mo.) and No. 24 Benedictine (Kan.).
• No. 12 Carroll (Mont.) made the largest improvement of six spots, while fellow Frontier Conference member Southern Oregon fell the farthest from No. 5 to No. 14.
• Saint Francis boasts the longest consecutive stretch of being named in the Coaches’ Top 25 Poll with 169-straight mentions. Following the Cougars is Carroll with 156, Missouri Valley with 91, MidAmerica Nazarene with 82, Morningside with 75 and Saint Xavier with 64.
• No. 21 Belhaven (Miss.) and No. 23 Langston (Okla.) were the newcomers to the poll. Belhaven was last ranked on Oct. 5, 2004, while Langston previously received mention in the 2012 Preseason Poll.
• No. 19 Grand View (Iowa) and No. 25 Cumberland (Tenn.), who both open the season on August 29, are the first ranked teams to begin play in 2013. The Vikings travel to NCAA Division I FCS Drake (Iowa), while Cumberland goes to NCAA Division I FCS Tennessee Tech.
• To view the complete 2013 NAIA Football Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, click here.
• 2012 Team Offensive Leaders
o Scoring Offense per Game: Southern Oregon – 52.8 points per game
o Total Offense per Game: Southern Oregon – 642.0 yards per game
o Rushing Offense per Game: Tabor (Kan.) – 337.4 yards per game
o Passing Offense per Game: Southern Oregon – 448.8 yards per game
o Turnover Margin per Game: Tabor (Kan.) – 2.90 turnover margin per game
o First Downs per Game: Southern Oregon – 30.2 first downs per game
o Third Down Conversion: Southern Oregon – 52.0 percent (118-of-227)
o Fourth Down Conversion: Cumberland (Tenn.) – 71.4 percent (15-of-21)
• 2012 Team Defensive Leaders
o Scoring Defense per Game: Missouri Valley/Morningside (Iowa) – 13.2 points per game
o Total Defense per Game: Bacone (Okla.) – 243.2 yards per game
o Rushing Defense per Game: Nebraska Wesleyan – 64.0 yards per game
o Passing Defense per Game: MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) – 132.4 yards per game
o Sacks: Missouri Valley – 46.0 sacks
o Opponent Third Down Conversion: Georgetown (Ky.) – 25.7 percent (38-of-148)
o Opponent Fourth Down Conversion: Bacone (Okla.) – 16.7 percent (3-of-18)
• For a complete look at the 2012 NAIA statistical leaders, click here.
Looking Ahead to the National Championship
The 58th annual NAIA Football National Championship will take place at Barron Stadium in Rome, Ga., for the sixth-straight season. The 2013 championship will be contested Dec. 21 at 6:30 p.m. EDT. The NAIA Football Championship Series is scheduled for Nov. 23, 30 and Dec. 7 at campus sites.
NAIA Football National Championship Visitor Information – Click HERE