University of Sioux Falls Shutout of NCAA Division II Football Playoffs
USF went 10-1 during the regular season and suffered their only loss to one of the top teams in Division II. Ranked 18th in the country, and with 24 teams getting in, it would be a shoe in for them to get in right? I guess not.
USF suffered its only loss on the road to Minnesota State Mankato, who are in the playoffs and have earned a bye in Region 3. The Cougars have defeated ten teams from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference by 10+ points. So what gives?
The teams of the NSIC only play a conference schedule. They do not elect to take any games from any other conference in the country. On top of that, USF went 10-1 against a combined 54-67 in the NSIC. Not that great of an overall record of teams they played. Add it all together, and the justification could be made as to why they aren't in.
But being ranked 18th in a 24 team playoff system and not getting in? That has no merits to it. The NCAA has essentially threw their entire rankings out the door. There's a reason that the Cougars and head coach Jed Stugart are upset. They have all right to be.
But what about the team that replaced them?
The Cougars were replaced in Region 3 with Harding University. Harding went 9-1 on the year. Harding did not have any games outside of their conference, and the combined win/loss total for the teams they faced is 48-56.
The NSIC played one more regular season game than the Great American Conference. Apparently that has also come back to hurt USF. Crunching all the numbers, it feels like the NCAA more so flipped a coin in terms of deciding who to put in.
Unfortunately, it didn't go the way of USF in terms of the selection committee. Now the Cougars will have the opportunity to play in the Mineral Water Bowl on December 6th and face Central Oklahoma.