Conference Races Heat Up

November 09, 2017
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Saturday marks the end of the 2017 NAIA football regular-season, however there is still excitement among many of the conferences as title races and automatic berths to the 2017 NAIA Football Championship Series will be determined this weekend.

The 2017 NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) 16-team field and first round pairings will be announced Sunday at 4 p.m. CST via a video show on the NAIA official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/playnaia). Each conference champion rated in the top 20 (including ties) in the Final Coaches’ Poll on Sunday automatically qualifies for the FCS. The remaining at-large berths are awarded based on the final rating.

Conference Championship Races
Central States Football League – No. 8 Langston (Okla.) rests alone atop the league standings with a 7-0 record. The Lions, who host Wayland Baptist (Texas) on Saturday, have already locked down the CSFL’s automatic berth to the FCS after beating second-place and No. 20 SAGU (Texas), 14-10, last weekend. The key now for Langston is staying ranked within the top eight so the club has a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

Frontier Conference – With a win on Saturday at No. 22 Montana Tech, No. 5 Southern Oregon will lock down its first 10-0 season as a member of the Frontier Conference. The Raiders, who lead the league by three games, have already claimed the conference title and an automatic berth to the playoffs.

Great Plains Athletic Conference – Perennial powerhouse Morningside (Iowa) paces the league with a 7-0 mark, followed by Northwestern (Iowa) at 6-1 and Concordia (Neb.) at 5-2. The Mustangs have already defeated Northwestern this season to claim the league's playoff berth and with a win Saturday against Concordia can claim sole possession of the conference title for the third-straight season.

Heart of America North Division – No. 6 Grand View (Iowa) leads the league with a 4-0 record, followed by No. 15 Benedictine (Kan.) (3-1) and Peru State (Neb.) (3-1). The Vikings defeated both second-place clubs earlier this season to claim the league’s automatic berth. Grand View closes the regular-season Saturday at William Penn (Iowa).

Heart of America South Division – No. 23 Evangel (Mo.) enters the weekend with a 4-0 conference record. The Crusaders are one-game ahead of No. 7 Baker (Kan.) (3-1) and Missouri Valley (3-1). Evangel and Baker play Saturday to decide not only if there will be an outright or shared champion, but the league's automatic playoff spot. According to the Heart football rules, if there is a three-way tie, but only two teams are ranked in the top 20, the winner of the head to head competition will advance.

Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference – There is a tie atop the conference standings, as No. 16 Sterling (Kan.) and No. 17 Tabor (Kan.) are both 7-1. Sterling, who won the head-to-head matchup with Tabor earlier this season, travels to McPherson (Kan.) on Saturday, while Tabor hosts Bethany (Kan.).

Mid-South Conference Appalachian Division – No. 2 Reinhardt (Ga.) locked down the league’s automatic playoff berth with a dominant victory over Bluefield (Va.) last weekend. The Eagles are currently 6-0 in the conference with a game at St. Andrews (N.C.) on Saturday.

Mid-South Conference Bluegrass Division - Arguably the most interesting conference to watch this weekend is the MSC Bluegrass, as No. 4 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and No. 18 Campbellsville (Ky.) square off on Saturday. The Blue Raiders enter the weekend atop the league with a 5-0 record, followed by No. 13 Georgetown (Ky.) and Campbellsville at 4-1. If Campbellsville and Georgetown both win on Saturday, there will be a three-way tie for the conference’s automatic berth. In this scenario, the automatic playoff spot will go to the highest rated team in the final coaches’ poll.

Mid-South Conference Sun Division – No. 10 Southeastern (Fla.) owns the top spot in the league with a 4-0 record, followed by Faulkner (Ala.) at 4-1. The Fire can secure an unbeaten conference season with a win against Ave Maria (Fla.) on Saturday. Southeastern defeated Faulkner, 49-35, earlier this season.

Mid-States Football Association Mideast League – Defending national champion and top-ranked Saint Francis (Ind.) is the conference champion and earns a spot in the FCS after going 6-0 in the league and 10-0 overall. The Cougars are on a bye this weekend.

Mid-States Football Association Midwest League – No. 9 Saint Xavier (Ill.) is the conference’s automatic berth to the FCS, as the Cougars are one-game ahead of second-place St. Francis (Ill.) and own the head to head win over the Saints. Saint Xavier looks to claim sole possession of the conference title Saturday at Robert Morris (Ill.)

North Star Athletic Association – No. 12 Dickinson State (N.D.) is the league champion and the conference’s automatic berth to the FCS. The Blue Hawks host Mayville State (N.D.) on Saturday to close out the regular-season.

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