DCTF Small College Review: Diving into playoff scenarios and K.C. Keeler achieves another career milestone

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What makes small college football divisions better than the FBS? An actual playoff system.

With the calendar changing to November and playoffs set to begin in the next two weeks, we turn our attention to the playoff races in NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA, and NJCAA.

Straight Chaos

One word that explains the Southwest Junior College Football Conference ideally is chaos.

Here’s what we know heading into the final week of the regular season, New Mexico Military Institute is in the playoffs. Cisco and Tyler will secure a spot in the SWJCFC semifinals with wins over Navarro and Kilgore, respectively, this week.

Blinn, Trinity Valley, and Kilgore are tied for the fourth and final playoff spot at 3-3, heading into this week. 

Here’s the craziest scenario during another wild SWJCFC season: If Cisco and Tyler lose and Blinn, TVCC, and Kilgore each win, there would be a five-way tie for the final three spots in the semifinals.

A Bit More Clear

The Lone Star Conference race is a bit more straightforward, but many possibilities remain.

Midwestern State can clinch the outright conference title with wins over West Texas A&M and UT Permian Basin in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Texas A&M-Commerce can earn a share of the LSC crown with wins over Angelo State, and Eastern New Mexico combined with at least one MSU loss. The Lions can win the title with two wins and two MSU losses.

Here’s where the LSC gets weird. If MSU loses its final two games, including this week at West Texas A&M, Angelo State wins out, including a win over Texas A&M-Commerce this week, and UTPB wins its final two games, all five teams would finish tied for the LSC title.

But winning the LSC doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot in Super Region Four. The initial regional rankings released last week had MSU at No. 4 and Angelo State at No. 5. However, both teams are likely in the playoffs with two more wins. 

Texas A&M-Commerce and UTPB are on the outside looking in right now but still have a path to the playoffs if the Lions win at Angelo State this week, and the Falcons defeat MSU on the road in the regular season finale.

Nearly Set In Stone

The clearest playoff and conference scenarios are in NCAA Division III, where No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor and No. 19 Trinity will earn an automatic bid to the playoffs with wins in their final two games.

UMHB will secure the American Southwest Conference automatic bid with a win at home against Howard Payne this week, while Trinity will secure the Southern Athletic Association title and automatic bid with a road win over Birmingham Southern on Saturday.

No. 8 Hardin-Simmons will likely receive an at-large bid to the playoffs with two more wins, but we will know more about the Cowboys playoff hopes if the NCAA releases regional rankings as expected this week.

An Incredible Milestone

With Sam Houston’s 45-27 road win over Tarleton last Saturday, Bearkats coach K.C. Keeler won his 250th career game.

Keeler moved past former William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock for 7th place all-time among FCS coaches who spent at least ten years at an FCS school.

A two-time national champion, Keeler is second among active FCS coaches for most career wins behind Al Bagnoli of Columbia and is the fifth fastest and ninth youngest coach to achieve 250 career wins.

After moving past Jim Tressell during the Kats spring national title run, Keeler is the career leader in FCS playoff victories.

No doubt, Keeler will one day become a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Helmet Stickers

Brock Bujnoch, Hardin-Simmons

On a day filled with outstanding quarterback play, the HSU freshman was a quarterback terror with three interceptions in a 38-14 win over Howard Payne. The Hutto, Texas native, ended the Yellow Jackets’ opening drive with an interception in the end zone.

Landry Gilpin, Southwestern

Former Texas Football Player of the Year had one of his best performances as a collegiate athlete in Southwestern’s 45-19 win over Austin College. The Mission Veterans Memorial product completed 18-of-27 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns while adding 112 yards and a touchdown on 17 rushing attempts.

Jordan Barlow, SAGU - 22-38 419 yds 6 TD

The transfer from Lindenwood University had a career day leading SAGU to a massive 54-29 win over rival Wayland Baptist. Barlow completed 22-of-38 passes for 419 yards and six touchdowns in the victory.

Plays of the Week

Each week, we scour social media to find the top plays. However, we are sure to miss some incredible plays from the 35 small college teams in Texas, so we are seeking your assistance. 

If you find a great play worthy of a nomination, use hashtag #dctftopplays to make sure we notice.

Here are the top plays from Week 9:

 

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